Following memorable roles in the military action-adventures Pearl Harbor (2001) and Black Hawk Down (2001), young actor Josh Hartnett is propelled to romantic leading man status with this semi-autobiographical comedy from screenwriter Rob Perez. Hartnett stars as Matt Sullivan, a young man smarting over the bitter breakup of his most recent relationship. With Lent approaching, Matt decides to observe the 40-day tradition by abstaining from all sexual contact, including self-gratification. Once his odyssey of discipline has begun, he meets the girl of his dreams, while his ex begins campaigning to get him back. Co-starring Shannyn Sossamon, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Vinessa Shaw, 40 Days and 40 Nights inspired another round of controversy between distributor Miramax and the Catholic League, which accused the film of being a "vulgar parody" of Lent. The League previously protested the company's releases of Priest (1994) and Dogma (1999).