By People Staff
May 13, 2002 12:00 PM

As the dashing dog-tagged star of Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down, Josh Hartnett gave us a whole new reason to love a man in uniform. But when he’s on leave from military blockbusters, the 6’3″ bushy-browed ex-model likes to work his little-boy-lost maneuvers. “He has a certain expression when he looks slightly confused, but his eyes are smiling,” says Shannyn Sossamon, his costar in the comedy 40 Days and 40 Nights. “Then he giggles nervously and gets embarrassed. He seems to do this all at once, which is totally charming.” It’s precisely that befuddled look that Hartnett, 23, assumes when asked to name his best feature: “I don’t know … my ankles?” he says, flashing a sheepish grin. “I have really nice ankles.” Given his whirlwind rise to fame, the Minnesota native has reason to be dazed. Since the release of Pearl Harbor a year ago, the actor has advanced from obscure indies and teen-horror fare (The Faculty, Halloween: H20) to omnipresent cover boy. “I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather look at onscreen,” says Sofia Coppola, who directed him in The Virgin Suicides. Hartnett’s unassuming manner—down to his scruffy wardrobe and dilapidated hats—heightens his mystique. When he’s not working, he retreats to his rental house in Minneapolis a few miles from his father, Daniel, a commercial-building manager, and stepmother, Molly, an artist. Says Sossamon: “I think the attention bugs him. He’s got his girlfriend back home in Minnesota [high school sweetheart Ellen Fenster, an actress] and he just wants to have a beer and hang out.”