In his new, critically-lauded (though thusfar award snubbed) movie Rampart that opens next Friday, Woody Harrelson plays a dirty cop — a role about as far from real guy as possible. He told us why:
Was it hard to put on the uniform?
“I’m a happy hippie from Hawaii, so my biggest hurdle was believing I could be a cop. If I didn’t believe it, I couldn’t make anyone else believe it. When I was younger, I wanted to be a cop. Then I watched The Wild Wild West, and so I wanted to be in the Secret Service like James West. At some point I realized, ‘That guy is not in the Secret Service. He’s an actor.’ That sounds like a good idea too.”
Did you like being an authority figure?
“I’m not a big rule enforcer. When I was shooting The Hunger Games in North Carolina, a group of us — Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, the director Gary Ross, a few others and I — were in a hotel room, and I heard a knock at the door. It was security saying, ‘We’ve had complaints about the noise.’ I told everybody, (he whispers) ‘We need to use our inside voice.’ They said, ‘Hold it. Is this Woody telling us to be quiet?’ It didn’t make any sense to them.”
Your character disrespects women. Are you a pushover with women?
“I really do love women, and I have a lot of respect, particularly as relates to Laura, my wife. I feel whatever she wants is good by me. I’m a pushover in that I don’t argue with her. I remember meeting this guy at the airport in San Francisco. He was about 75, and he said he was having his 50th wedding anniversary. I said, ‘50! What’s the secret?’ He said, ‘Three things: yes, yes and yes.’”
With three daughters and a wife, do you ever feel outnumbered?
“There’s a lot of yin energy in the household. We also have a female dog. But it works for me. I’m nuts about all of them. Me and the wifey are still getting along great. Dropping Deni (17) at college and being expected to then drive away was the most difficult thing I experienced in the past year. I used to work on a horse ranch in Edmond, Oklahoma, and I was involved in weaning some colts and fillies off their mothers. It was very difficult. They really fight it. It was like that feeling. But I’ve got Zoe and Makani at home.”
Would you like to have a son?
“No. The goddess trilogy is just enough. I don’t need more kids.”
What's your workout routine?
“If I’m in Maui, I play soccer and tennis and go kite-surfing. I prefer doing a sport as opposed to going to a gym. I’m not big on gyms. When I did Rampart, I lost 30 pounds because I felt it was better for the character. I worked out constantly, maybe twice a day, and minimized caloric intake.”
What key life lesson did you teach your daughters?
“I think I’m a phenomenal role model for what not to do. One thing I do hopefully pass along is ‘Keep an open mind.’”
“Sometimes I wish I hadn’t been so harsh on someone in an argument. I wish I’d done Dumb and Dumber. I was offered the part, but I don’t think I’d have been better than Jeff Daniels was. Another film I wish I’d done was Jerry Maguire. I try not to spend too much time with regret, although I wish I’d had more hang time with my dad.”
How did you celebrate your 50th birthday?
“I definitely was feeling the approach of it, but the day was really fun. I played soccer and did some stand-up paddle with my buddy Owen and some friends in Maui. Games and sports--that’s what I did the whole day. Now I’m kind of delighted to know that I’m not getting old. I’m just old.”