Actor of the Week: Woody Harrelson
With Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri out in the UK recently, as well as the recent release of this year’s Oscar nominations, it seemed like an easy choice for this week’s Actor of the Week; the one and only Mr Woody Harrelson.
Unlike most people who were introduced to Harrelson through the iconic 80’s hit TV show Cheers, I first saw Woody Harrelson in 1996’s Kingpin. This film was a favourite of my brother’s so was on at home repeatedly growing up, instantly making Harrelson a familiar face. Harrelson plays Roy Munson, an ex-pro bowler, who coaches a new bowling prodigy to success. I have to say this certainly isn’t my favourite film of Harrelson’s but I respect its cult following.
A few years later, I saw Harrelson’s first movie, White Men Can’t Jump, watching him star alongside Wesley Snipes as the pair come together to double their chances of winning money on the street by hustling people at Basketball. To be honest, I caught on to this, and many other films of his, a few years later, given I was so young when he was on the rise.
The film which made Harrelson a favourite of mine was his role as Tallahassee in the brilliant Zombieland, which also saw our Actor of the Week star alongside another, the lovely Emma Stone. Even though Harrelson is the supporting actor within this film, he certainly stole the show, playing a character who is tough on the outside but mourning on the inside, due to certain tragic events that happen to him during the uprising of the zombies. Zombieland is a fresh take on the zombie genre, where even though there is a zombie apocalypse, the story focuses more on a bunch of unlikely people becoming family during the end of the world.
From that point on, Harrelson really started to gain momentum, seeing him star in the hugely successful Hunger Games series, playing Haymitch, the mentor of Katniss and Peeta, the two Hunger Game contenders. Harrelson went on to play this role in the in the next two films, being a major part in its incredible success and following. For me Harrelson was the selling point in these films, with him playing an alcoholic that becomes a sort-of father figure for the two contenders.
Now that Woody Harrelson had cemented himself as a favourite actor of mine, I didn’t think I could go on to like him anymore until I saw him in Seven Psychopaths, the 2nd film of one of my favorite directors, Martin McDonagh. Seven Psychopaths sees gangster Charlie, played by Harrelson, have his dog stolen by three unlikely characters. Marty, a writer, trying to come up with a new script for a film, played by Colin Farrell. Billy, Marty’s best friend, played by another of this year’s oscar nominees, Sam Rockwell, who is trying to get a quick buck by stealing dogs and given them back to the owner so that he can get the reward money. And Hans, played by Christopher Walken, a guy who teams up with Billy so that he can make money to pay for his wife’s chemotherapy. With Harrelson’s character chasing down the guys who stole his dog, each character goes on a journey of self discovery.
Seven Psychopaths may have been the first time Harrelson worked with McDonagh but it wasn’t the last, as he stars in the recent Oscar nominated film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, acting alongside his Seven Psychopaths co-star Sam Rockwell, with both of them going on to get a 2018 Oscar Nomination for Best Supporting Actor. This is the 3rd Academy Award nomination for our Actor of the Week, which really highlights Harrelson’s talent.
I could be here all day talking about the incredible successes Harrelson has had in his career, such as his recent role in the War for the Planet of the Apes, or his return to TV, where he starred alongside former AotW Matthew McConaughey in the award-winning True Detective, but the bottom line is that anything Harrelson stars in is going to be a success, as his talent will always shine through. Keep up the good work Woody!