|Born||Woodrow Tracy Harrelson
July 23, 1961
Midland, Texas, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Nancy Simon (1985–1986)
Laura Louie (2008–present)
Diane Lou (née Oswald)
His breakout role came in 1985, joining the television sitcom Cheers as bartender Woody Boyd, for which he earned five Emmy Award nominations (one win). Some notable film characters include basketball hustler Billy Hoyle in White Men Can't Jump, one-handed bowler Roy Munson in Kingpin, serial killer Mickey Knox in Natural Born Killers, magazine publisher Larry Flynt in The People vs. Larry Flynt, and country singer Dusty in A Prairie Home Companion.
For The People vs. Larry Flynt and The Messenger, Harrelson earned Academy Award nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively. In 2014, he starred in the HBO crime drama True Detective with Matthew McConaughey.
Harrelson was born in Midland, Texas, the son of Diane Lou (née Oswald) and Charles Voyde Harrelson , who divorced in 1964; he has two brothers, Jordan and Brett. Harrelson's father, who was a hitman, was arrested in 1979 for killing Federal Judge John H. Wood, Jr. in San Antonio, Texas. His father was convicted and eventually died during his life sentence in the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility. In 1973, Harrelson moved to his mother's native city, Lebanon, Ohio, where he was raised. Harrelson attended Lebanon High School, working through much of high school as a woodcarver at Kings Island amusement park.
He attended Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana, where he joined the Sigma Chi fraternity. He received a Bachelor of Arts in theater and English in 1983. He told Playboy in October 2009: "I was getting into theology and studying the roots of the Bible, but then I started to discover the man-made nature of it. I started seeing things that made me ask, 'Is God really speaking through this instrument?' My eyes opened to the reality of the Bible being just a document to control people. At the time I was a real mama's boy and deeply mesmerized by the church."
Harrelson is widely known for his work on the NBC sitcom Cheers. He played bartender Woody Boyd, who replaced Coach (played by Nicholas Colasanto, who died in February 1985). He joined the cast in 1985 for season four and lasted eight seasons (1985–1993) on the show. For this role, Harrelson was nominated for five Emmy Awards, winning once in 1989. His character of Boyd was from Hanover, Indiana, the town where Harrelson attended college. In 1999, Harrelson guest-starred in the Cheers spin-off success Frasier, in which he reprised the role of Woody Boyd. Harrelson was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for this performance. He appeared in several 2001 episodes of Will & Grace as Grace's new boyfriend Nathan. On the November 12, 2009 episode of the Comedy Central show The Colbert Report, Harrelson was interviewed by Stephen Colbert to promote his movie The Messenger. In response to Colbert's questioning of his support for the troops, Harrelson agreed to let Colbert shave his head on camera. Harrelson returned to television in 2014, starring along Matthew McConaughey in the first season of a new HBO's crime series, True Detective, where he plays Marty Hart, a Louisiana cop investigating murders that took place over a timespan of 17 years.
On June 6, 2010, Harrelson took part playing in Soccer Aid 2010 for UNICEF UK at Old Trafford in Manchester, UK. The match was broadcast live on UK's ITV television. After being brought on as a substitute for Gordon Ramsay, Harrelson took the final penalty in the penalty shootout, following a 2–2 draw after 91 minutes. Despite being initially unaware of exactly from where his kick had to be taken, Harrelson scored to win the game for "The Rest of the World" team, beating England for the first time since the tournament began. When later interviewed he claimed that he "didn't even remember the moment of scoring". Harrelson also took part in Soccer Aid 2012 on May 27, 2012. The match ended 3-1 in favor of England.
While still working on Cheers, Harrelson reawakened his film career. His first movie had been Wildcats, a football comedy in 1986 with Goldie Hawn. Harrelson reunited and became friends with Wesley Snipes and starred with him in the box-office hit White Men Can't Jump and the box office bomb Money Train. In 1993 he had a starring role opposite Robert Redford and Demi Moore in the drama Indecent Proposal, which was a box office success, earning a worldwide total of over $265,000,000. Harrelson then played Mickey Knox in Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers and Dr. Michael Raynolds in the Michael Cimino film The Sunchaser. In 1996, he starred in the comedy Kingpin alongside Randy Quaid and Vanessa Angel.
Harrelson's career gained momentum when he starred in the Miloš Forman film The People vs. Larry Flynt, in which he played Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine. The film was a success and Harrelson's performance was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award for Best Actor. After that, Harrelson was cast in more serious film roles. He starred in the 1997 war film Welcome to Sarajevo and in 1997 had a featured role as Sergeant Schumann in Wag the Dog. In 1998, Harrelson starred in the thriller Palmetto and played Sergeant Keck in The Thin Red Line, a war film nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1999.
Harrelson made other films such as The Hi-Lo Country and portrayed Ray Pekurny in the comedy EDtv. Also in 1999, he appeared as boxer Vince Boudreau in the Ron Shelton film Play It to the Bone. Harrelson did not appear in movies again until 2003, when he co-starred as Galaxia in the comedy film Anger Management. He appeared in the action film After the Sunset and the Spike Lee film She Hate Me. In 2005, Harrelson was in The Big White and North Country. Also in 2005 he appeared as Kelly Ryan, husband of a contest-obsessed woman in the film The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. Harrelson made two films in 2006, the animated film version of Free Jimmy and also A Scanner Darkly. In 2007 he played Carter Page III, gay escort of privileged Washington D.C. women, in the film The Walker.
In the Oscar-winning 2007 crime thriller No Country for Old Men, Harrelson had a key role as Carson Wells, a bounty hunter. The film won Best Picture and Best Director for Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. Harrelson also won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast, along with Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Kelly Macdonald.
Also in a movie released in 2007, Battle in Seattle, Harrelson played another key role of a Seattle police officer whose pregnant wife loses her baby during the World Trade Organization protests in 1999. In 2008, Harrelson appeared in several films, among them the Will Ferrell basketball comedy Semi-Pro and the Will Smith stark drama Seven Pounds. In 2009, Harrelson received significant praise for his performance as Captain Tony Stone in The Messenger. In what many critics considered to be his best role, Harrelson was nominated for a Satellite Award, an Independent Spirit Award, a Golden Globe Award a Screen Actors Guild Award, and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Harrelson has also won the Best Supporting Actor award in the 2009 National Board of Review award ceremonies and received accolades from various critics' societies.
In 2009, he co-starred in the horror comedy Zombieland, followed by Roland Emmerich's 2012 where he played Charlie Frost, a man who warns of the end of the world. In 2010 he starred as a bartender and mentor in the futuristic western martial arts film Bunraku. In 2011, he starred as Tommy in the movie Friends with Benefits. He was cast as Haymitch Abernathy in 2012's The Hunger Games. On February 3, 2012, he participated in an "Ask Me Anything" session on the social media website Reddit. The AMA turned into a PR disaster when Harrelson failed to make meaningful responses to any questions and soon specifically refused to respond to anything not directly related to the then-upcoming worldwide release of the movie Rampart, in which he starred.
In 1999 Harrelson directed his own play, Furthest from the Sun, at the Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis. He followed next in Roundabout's Broadway revival of the N. Richard Nash play The Rainmaker in 2000, Sam Shepard's The Late Henry Moss in 2001, John Kolvenbach's On an Average Day opposite Kyle MacLachlan in London's West End in the fall of 2002, and in the summer of 2003, Harrelson directed the Toronto premiere of Kenneth Lonergan's This is Our Youth at the Berkley Street Theater. In the winter of 2005/2006 Harrelson returned to London's West End, starring in Tennessee Williams' Night of the Iguana at the Lyric Theater. Harrelson directed Bullet for Adolf (a play written by himself in collaboration with Frankie Hyman) at the esteemed Hart House Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, which ran from April 21 to May 7, 2011. Bullet for Adolf is set to open Off-Broadway (New world Stages) with previews beginning July 19, 2012 and running through September 9, 2012.
Marriages and family
In 1985, Harrelson married Nancy Simon, daughter of playwright Neil Simon, in Tijuana. The two intended to divorce the following day, but the storefront marriage/divorce parlor was closed when they had returned to it, and the two remained married for ten months.
On December 28, 2008, Harrelson married Laura Louie, his girlfriend since 1987. The couple have three daughters, Deni Montana (born February 28, 1993), Zoe Giordano (born September 22, 1996), and Makani Ravello (born June 3, 2006). When announcing Makani's birth, the couple referred to the three as their "goddess trilogy". Laura is his former assistant and a co-founder of Yoganics, an organic food delivery service.
Harrelson was arrested in Columbus, Ohio in 1982 for disorderly conduct after he was found dancing in the middle of the street. He was also charged with resisting arrest after he ran from the police. Harrelson avoided jail time by paying a fine.
On June 1, 1996, Harrelson was arrested in Lee County, Kentucky, after he symbolically planted four hemp seeds to challenge the state law which did not distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana. Harrelson was acquitted of these charges in 2000.
In 2002, Harrelson was arrested in London after an incident in a taxi that ended in a police chase. Harrelson was taken to a London police station and later released on bail. The case was later dismissed after Harrelson paid the taxi driver involved in the incident £550 ($844).
In 2008, TMZ photographer Josh Levine filed a lawsuit against Harrelson for an alleged attack outside a Hollywood nightclub in 2006. A video of the incident appeared to show Harrelson grabbing a camera and clashing with the photographer. Los Angeles prosecutors declined to press charges against the actor, but Levine filed a suit that summer asking for $2.5 million in damages. The case was dismissed in April 2010.
Drug reform/green industry
Harrelson is an enthusiast and supporter for the legalization of marijuana and hemp. Harrelson was a guest on Ziggy Marley's track "Wild And Free", a song advocating the growing of cannabis. Since 2003, Harrelson has served as a member on NORML's advisory board.
Harrelson is also an environmental activist. He has attended environmental events such as the PICNIC'07 festival that was held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, for three days in September 2007. PICNIC describes its annual festival as "three intensive days [when] we mix creativity, science, technology, media and business to explore new solutions in the spirit of co-creation". He once scaled the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco with members of North Coast Earth First! group to unfurl a banner that read, "Hurwitz, Aren't ancient redwoods more precious than gold?" in protest of Maxxam Inc/PALCO CEO Charles Hurwitz, who once stated, "He who has the gold, makes the rules."
He once traveled to the west coast in the U.S. on a bike and a domino caravan with a hemp oil-fueled biodiesel bus with The Spitfire Agency (the subject of the independent documentary, Go Further) and narrated the documentary Grass. Harrelson briefly owned an oxygen bar in West Hollywood called "O2". He is a peace activist, and has often spoken publicly against the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In October 2009, he was conferred an honorary degree by York University for his contributions in the fields of environmental education, sustainability, and activism.
"I was on a bus and some girl sees me blowing my nose," Harrelson is saying of his early years trying to make it as an actor in New York. "I had acne all over my face, which I'd had for years and years. And she's like: 'Hey, you're lactose intolerant. If you quit dairy, all these symptoms you got will be gone in three days.' I was like twenty-four. And I was like, No way. But three days later: gone."
Along with not eating meat or dairy, Harrelson also does not eat sugar or flour. In Zombieland, in which he plays a character with an affinity for Twinkies, he did not eat the confectionery, replacing them with vegan faux-Twinkies made from cornmeal.
In June 2010, Harrelson took part in Soccer Aid at Old Trafford to raise money for UNICEF. Harrelson played for the "Rest of the World" team, playing in the last 15 minutes, and scored the winning goal in the penalty shootout following a 2–2 draw during normal time. He played in the UNICEF game 2012, playing the last 10 minutes of the game for the "Rest of the World" team, losing 3–1 to England.
Harrelson is a supporter of the 9/11 Truth movement and has supported reopening an investigation into the September 11 attacks. Along with other "truthers", including Martin Sheen and Ed Asner, he will be appearing in a movie, September Morn, that will promote such views. Harrelson identifies as an anarchist.
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