I used to be a huge Woody Harrelson fan. I’ve seen almost all of his films and agree with many of his views on politics and culture. So it is with great sadness that I must tell the world he is a complete and total asshole. I made this discovery last Friday, during a press junket for his new movie, Rampart (which is pretty good, by the way). The guy setting up the interviews gave me 20 minutes to shoot the shit with Woody. And while I still think he’s a damn good actor, our short interaction left me traumatised and feeling like a piece of meat.
Combine this with the fact that the interview before mine consisted of Reddit-user-submitted questions (aka an "AMA" – Ask Me Anything) during which Woody only wanted to answer questions related to Rampart. This, of course, meant he didn't take kindly to someone asking him about crashing a prom afterparty in LA, at which he reportedly took some poor girl's virginity and – gasp – NEVER CALLED HER AFTERWARD! (More on this later.)
Even if Woody turned out to be the coolest guy on Earth, the interview would’ve been a goddamn train wreck for a number of reasons I will elaborate on later. In the meantime here is how I had imagined an interview with Woody would have gone before I actually had to live through one.
VICE: Hey Mr. Harrelson, how are things?
Woody Harrelson: Things are great. I’m excited to be in New York promoting my new film, Rampart. I also really like VICE; you guys are doing some really great stuff right now. I’m feelin’ it. Happy to be talking to you today, really sorry you had to wait an hour and a half…
Aw shucks, it’s no big thing. Thanks for the kind words Woody – is it OK if I call you Woody?
We’re all friends here. I’d be offended if you didn’t.
Great, Woody it is. So let’s talk about your movie. I saw it last night and it’s really great. In once sentence tell me what you would say to someone who hasn’t seen the film in order to get them to go check it out?
Rampart is the best fucking movie in the entire world.
Sold! Now tell me a little bit more.
In the movie I play Dave Brown, a Vietnam Vet who works as a corrupt cop for the LAPD. My character has some serious anger-management issues, and he's not the most morally sound man on the force. He makes a number of bad decisions and subsequently spends a lot of time trying to cover his ass and keep his family from falling apart.
A perfect summary! I’d love to know more about these morally unjust decisions of his. What kind of dirt does he get into? Sex? Drugs? Parties? Enquiring minds want to know.
All of the above! There is actually a really good party scene in the film where I go to a rave. I get a little fucked up and end up stuffing my face with food until I puke.
What’s the craziest party you’ve ever been to?
[**Insert long, winding, hilariously debaucherous tale of what sounds like the best party in the history of parties**]
Holy shit. I can’t believe you did that. Did you ever find your clothes?
Nah! I was so high I didn’t even care!
Best. Story. Ever. You’re a badass on screen and in real life. Now that it's 2012, if things go down the tubes on an apocalyptic level, how would Woody Harrelson, the man, hold up?
I’d be running things for sure! I can kick ass in real life too, so I am in no way worried. Bring it on; I’m ready to save some lives.
I think I’d probably feel pretty safe with you at my side holding it down with a crossbow. Mickey Knox is not the kind of man you want to fuck with, unless of course you are a rattlesnake.
I’ll protect them too. I’m a vegan so I don’t believe in killing animals.
You sure do love your greenery. I respect that you’re very open about advocating the legalisation of marijuana. What’s your favourite type of weed?
I shit you not.
Wow, I never would have guessed. On the topic of favourites, what’s your favourite film that you’ve done?
Kingpin. I LOVE Bill Murray. He’s my brother.
Well thank you so much for hanging out with me. I hope the rest of your interviews go well. I brought you a joint just in case you need a break from all of this bullshit.
This was the most enjoyable interview I’ve ever done in my life. You are awesome. Thank you and have a great weekend.
No… Thank YOU!
Now for the real story, which is really awful and depressing: I showed up at the hotel with a photographer to take a quick snapshot of Woody to accompany the interview. After being stalled for 20 minutes, our request to photograph Woody was denied (even though the guy who arranged the interview told me it wouldn't be a problem). So the photographer left, and I continued to sit around in a room full of uneaten sandwiches and Hollywood press agents all dressed in black as they complained and said asinine things like, “When is Woody going to eat his lunch?!” and “Oh my God! I ate, like, eight plates of salad. Stop me!”
The amount of legwork that went into a shitty press junket blew my mind. Finally it was nearly my turn. One of Woody's handlers had briefly mentioned to me that there was just one interview before mine – a Reddit AMA – and that it might run a little long, but I was still promised my full allotted interview time.
Before they went into Woody's hotel suite, I met the girls who were conducting the AMA. They seemed sweet, so I didn't mind the additional wait – imagining that they might butter him up with a light-hearted Q&A before Woody and I got down to business.
Ten minutes later, a stampede charged the waiting room, each person whispering furiously and cupping their mouths in horror. I didn’t hear everything but I knew it wasn’t good. The only fragments I could make out were something about “de-virginising a high schooler” and “really angry”. I immediately broke out in hives and my mind went blank. Seconds later I was called into the next room to chat with a visibly irritated Woody Harrelson.
Unlike the interviews before mine, his publicist wasn’t present for whatever reason; it was just the two of us. I shook his hand and introduced myself and before I could settle in he asked what VICE was. I gave him a quick rundown of the particulars, but he seemed completely unimpressed and instead fired back by asking, "What's the raciest thing you guys have ever done?"
By this point he was towering over me, sitting on the back of the couch in front of mine and making me extremely uncomfortable. For whatever reason, the first thing that came out of my mouth was "The Sex Issue." Maybe it was because I stupidly uttered the S-word to a man who I was unaware is (or was) an admitted sex addict (he later denied it) but his attitude quickly changed. He alternated between zoning out while typing on his phone, looking me up and down, and staring right though me.
Given the strange tension in the room, I felt it necessary to break the ice and mention to him that I was a big fan and, in fact, a little nervous. He said, “don’t be” and jumped off the edge of the couch, placing himself on the seat, removing his slippers and stretching his legs out across the table in front of me – gyrating and rubbing his socked feet mere centimetres from my knees as he glared. After a minute or two of fumbling with my iPhone recorder, I finally managed to start the interview.
VICE: What is your favourite movie that you’ve worked on?
Woody Harrelson: Well I liked Larry Flynt. I liked The Messenger. I liked this one.
OK, what’s the most fun you've had on set?
White Men Can’t Jump was really fun.
And Kingpin was really fun. Natural Born Killers… There were a lot of festivities but it was very intense. So I couldn’t say that one was quite as fun.
You tend to take on a lot of "tough motherfucker" roles. Now that it’s 2012, and people are saying shit is going to hit the fan in a Biblical way, how would the real Woody Harrelson hold up?
You mean if it became a desperate situation? I’d fight for survival; I’d hold up good.
What would you do?
Well the first thing I’d do is retreat.
Uh… ya know… I live in Hawaii. So… that’s where I would go, where I’d retreat with my family.
One of the reasons I wanted to interview you is because I like the fact that you’re an advocate for marijuana.
That’s not necessarily true.
No, in fact, I’m an advocate for the straight edge. I don’t live it, but I advocate it. So I don’t encourage anyone to do any drugs, but on the other hand I believe in freedom.
But you do smoke?
What’s your favourite type of weed?
I don’t want to sit and talk about pot.
You don’t? Alright. What’s the craziest party you’ve ever been to?
[extremely long and awkward silence]
Uh… I don’t know. I’ve been to a lot of crazy parties. It’d be hard to pick one.
Nothing in particular sticks out in your mind. What’s been your most memorable experience so far?
[silence, heavy breathing, acts as if I haven’t said a word]
[I awkwardly try to ask anything I can to wrap up the interview] Are there any particularly great perks about being a movie star?
[more of the same]
[Woody continues to stare me up and down in total silence.]
Alright, well… sorry. I don’t know what else to ask you. I uh… yeah…
Well, alright then.
And that was it. Five minutes of uncomfortable laughter and lame responses quickly turned to questionable silence and flat-out disdain. I left the room, and seconds later he dashed out to go eat lunch. As I slid past his publicists to exit the building, Woody attempted to save face by saying, "Good luck with everything." But at that point it made no difference. Perhaps he truly meant to wish me well and he felt sorry for being such a creep behind closed doors, but still it wasn’t enough for me to forgive him for being so rude just because he couldn't wait to wrap his mouth around some "raw food".
The moral of the story: Don’t waste your time admiring famous people, because in reality they don’t give a damn about their fans; they are sleazy and act like dicks for no reason at all, just like you and I.