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Josh Hartnett has an apology to make.

"I'm going to get shot for saying this, but I've never really read a lot of comic books," said Harnett, who plays Sheriff Eben Oleson in 30 Days of Night, the comic turned movie that opens on Friday. "I'm sorry."

And, after appearing at Comic-Con International last summer to promote the film, and seeing throngs of fans, Hartnett couldn't help but feel a little sheepish.

But that's not to say Hartnett isn't impressed by the art form. When approached by director David Slade for the film, Harnett, 29, said he read the 30 Days of Nights comics and the film's script at around the same time.

"I saw that the visuals were astounding and I thought with the combination of David and those original visuals, it was going to be a spectacular-looking film," Hartnett said. "And I also thought there was room for a good character in there."

Hartnett met with Slade at a bar in his native Minnesota. During the conversation, Slade took a few digital photos and later worked some magic and e-mailed Hartnett the results.

"I didn't recognize the place," Hartnett said. "Because he'd graded it in such a way and he fooled around with it and manipulated it to the point where the whole place -- it was the middle of a bright sunny summer day -- and it looked haunted. And I was like, this guy has got the right mentality for this film."

The film is set in Barrow, Alaska, and as the town goes through 30 days without sunlight, a group of vampires attack. Eben leads a small band of survivors, including his brother and estranged wife, who must hide from the killing machines for a month.

"The script as written was great," Hartnett said. "I mean, it had all the elements of a really interesting, thoughtful film about what it would be like to be stuck in a situation where you have no escape and you're being hunted.

"And the idea of being hunted and not being able to just go out and kick some ass, I thought was different from most of your average action films or suspense films or horror films."

"Josh's take on the character is just right," Slade said. "Though he's by nature playing a romantic lead, he's playing a fragmented hero, which I think is always more interesting

"He's a flawed character, a person who loses his temper, a person who¹s like you and me -- and not an invincible strongman who goes around cutting vampires' heads off."

Hartnett said Eben is a character who simply refuses to surrender.

"He's the kind of guy that he needs an answer and, if he doesn't have one, he's going to make one," he said. "And that's a good person to have in a position where everybody could throw their hands up and go, 'We're screwed,' and curl up an die. He won't allow that to happen."

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