Josh Hartnett nabs a scoop in ‘Champ’

Tackling the role of a father and sports reporter in “Resurrecting the Champ” not only gave Josh Hartnett insight about parenting, he also has a newfound appreciation for journalists.

“This is my first time ever playing a dad,” said Hartnett, 29, in a recent interview to promote the movie at a Los Angeles hotel.

“I’m definitely quite a few years away from fatherhood in real life,” says the actor, who admittedly loves being a bachelor. “Still, I was surprisedat how easy and natural it was for me to sink into the whole father and family role. Maybe it was because I knew, too, that on screen I could always just give the kid back to his mother if he acted up. But that may be what real dads do, too. I don’t know. Then again, it also could have been all those years I spent babysitting that helped to make everything seem like second nature to me.”

The film, which opens Friday, is inspired by a real-life news story written by Los Angeles-based sports writer J.R. Moehringer about a heavyweight champion who ended up homeless.

Hartnett, whose credits include “Pearl Harbor,” “Black Hawk Down,” “Sin City” and “Lucky Number Slevin,” plays a young, opportunistic sports reporter trying to fill the big shoes of his father, a famous radio broadcaster.

“As an actor, you enjoy roles like this because Erik is really a flawed individual,” Hartnett says. “There’s so much going on with this guy. He starts to doubt his worth as a reporter. But he really believes that he’ll make a name for himself after he meets this former boxer [Samuel L. Jackson] who’s now homeless and who claims to be the legendary Battling Bob Satterfield. If he gets this story, it would make Erik not only worthy to his wife … who he’s separated from, and his young son who he lies to in order to make himself look bigger, but especially to his boss [Alan Alda] who complains that he forgets his stories while reading them.”

Until he made this movie, Hartnett never quite understood the pressures journalists face to “get the story.”

“It changed my perspective about their profession,” he says. “Honestly, my dealings have been with celebrity gossip journalists. And at least 95 percent of the stories written about me are usually inaccurate. I always felt that recently there has been a blur between gossip and news. It’s a strange world for journalists right now. There’s the competition from the Internet and bloggers and all that. And it’s easy to see how facts can get screwed up because that information is constantly changing and there’s little accountability for it. Newspapers and magazines have to stay competitive, maintain their integrity and still keep people’s attention. That’s tougher than ever now. And my character in the film learns this lesson the hard way.”

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