HOLLYWOOD, CA — Thank God this white man can jump – from near obscurity to filming, “Friends with Benefits” starring Justin Timberlake, SNL’s Andy Samberg and “That ‘70s Show” hottie Mila Kunis to an upcoming “Zombieland” sequel. Harrelson is back with a perma-grin.
“Do you want to get the first question in while I’m still coherent?” Harrelson asks.
These days, the film star and “Cheers” Emmy winner is as busy as Jonas Hill at a Cypress Hill concert, recently joining an all-star cast in the soon-to-film Will Gluck directed “Friends with Benefits,” which begins shooting in August. The story depicts Timberlake as a headhunter attempting a no-strings-attached affair with a female magazine editor friend, played by cutie Kunis. He soon falls for her, despite the fact she’s dating someone else. The film also stars Patricia Clarkson and A-Rod in his acting debut.
An avid industrial hemp activist (known to some as Doobyville), Harrelson has acquired a loyal following both in the environmental movement, where he pioneered legalizing marijuana before Jordan Catalano made it cool, and in Hollywood. He’s been nominated for an Oscar (portraying porn king Larry Flynt and this year for “The Messenger”) a Golden Globe, a SAG Award, five MTV Movie Awards – one for “Best Kiss” opposite Juliette Lewis and even a Razzie. His roles careen from comedic to more incendiary turns.
“And why Oliver having seen only “Cheers” and “White Men Can’t Jump” – how he could possibly think I would be the right guy, I don’t know,” Harrelson says.
Tales of underdogs banding together to win the money and the girl in “Kingpin” and “White Men Can’t Jump” lent way to more provocative territory. Harrelson surprised critics and right wing conservatives as the vengeful but impossibly loveable mass-murderer Mickey Knox in Oliver Stone’s misinterpreted ‘94 sleeper “Natural Born Killers.”
Though he admits he wouldn’t accept the part if it were offered today, he doesn’t regret doing such a controversial flick.
Then came “Indecent Proposal.” Harrelson and Demi Moore pushed the boundaries of social norms and every freaked-out married person’s buttons, adding a new twist in pop culture’s lexicon with a term as unforgettable as O.P.P.
Undoubtedly, all of this Texas-native’s films vary thematically, but are interlaced with one common factor – they are stained with rebellion.
Harrelson’s father Charles was a convicted freelance contract killer, who later died in a maximum security prison. (He shares his father’s birthday) Even with this potentially genetic disposition to violence, the avid Radiohead fan rose to an uncertain fame as the friendly neighborhood bartender from Hanover with deep dimples. The last person on Earth you’d fear in a dark downtown alleyway.
He has lived in eco-communities in Costa Rica and Maui, where he currently resides with his wife Laura and their three daughters, ages 3, 13 and 16, whom he coined “The Goddess Trilogy.” Makani Ravello, his 3-year old, means Rebel Wind.
“They’re not communes,” he says, leaning back into the plush gray couch in his room on the 5th floor at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. “They are like…farmhouses. There’s no main current. Everything is sustainable. But it’s all separate.”
Still, living like the Amish in a place where cockroaches are known to fly, sounds like hitchhiking naked on Santa Monica Boulevard to most Angelenos.
As an environmental advocate Harrelson has gone so far as to scale the Golden Gate Bridge – an act he now says didn’t amount to much – protesting against deforestation. Promoting a vegan, mostly raw diet, he admits to gardening naked and recently endured a 40-day fast. He and his wife erected VoiceYourself.com, a portal to educate and inspire eco-activists, which he often blogs on. Despite these efforts, and a cameo in last year’s Sundance-winning biodiesel sweetheart, “Fuel” Harrelson says he “lacks leadership skills” and “could do more” to aid the planet.
“Because you can really feel like you’re just putting out fires in the environmental movement,” Harrelson admits. “If you stop them from drilling here, they go drill somewhere else. If you tell them they can’t cut down this forest, they go somewhere and cut just to build their…” “Parking lots,” I interrupt then stare at Woody, who seems to be waiting for the perfect time to interject, “golf courses.”
“My suggestion is that we don’t wait for politicians and industries to change the way things are… I have always believed that personal transformation equals planetary transformation,” Harrelson writes on his Voice Yourself site. He reiterates this in person, when asked of his wish for President Obama and the First Lady. “Everything seems to be in the grip of the industry in this country. You gotta be able to stand up to that.”
With his trademark ability to run the gamut from political to Peter Pan boyishness, Woody lingers halfway between elaborating on his previous point and uncorking with clever laughter. Instead, he bolts up to call Room Service for more wine. “Hey bra. Can I get another bottle of Pinot Noir…” the room goes silent. “What? Valet?” By Darrah Le Montre. Source.