skip navigation
Woody Harrelson

Woody Harrelson

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

Battle in Seattle ... Actor Stuart Townsend (HEAD IN THE CLOUDS) makes an accomplished writing and... more info $10.95was $14.98 Buy Now

Now You See Me 4K ... In this visually spectacular blend of astonishing illusions and exhilarating... more info $17.95was $22.99 Buy Now

The Duel ... A Texas ranger (Liam Hemsworth) investigates a series of murders in a small town... more info $13.95was $19.98 Buy Now

The Duel ... A Texas ranger (Liam Hemsworth) investigates a series of murders in a small town... more info $18.95was $24.99 Buy Now

Now You See Me 2 ... In this sequel, the illusionists known as the Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg,... more info $22.46was $29.95 Buy Now

Now You See Me 2 ... In this sequel, the illusionists known as the Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg,... more info $29.96was $39.99 Buy Now

Also Known As: Woodrow Tracy Harrelson Died:
Born: July 23, 1961 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Midland, Texas, USA Profession: actor, musician, playwright, singer, activist, entrepreneur

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

nifer Lawrence), a 16-year-old who volunteers for the deadly battle in order to replace her younger sister. That year also saw Harrelson deliver an exceptionally adroit performance as Steve Schmidt, senior strategist for Senator John McCain (Ed Harris) during the 2008 presidential campaign in "Game Change" (HBO, 2012). Based on the political tell-all of the same name by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, it focused on the selection of and consequent disillusionment with vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) in the months leading up to the McCain-Palin ticketâ¿¿s election loss. Harrelson's turn as Schmidt was hailed by critics and earned him an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. That year he also appeared in Martin McDonagh's raucous "Seven Psychopaths" as a ruthless dog-loving criminal desperate to get his kidnapped pooch back. The amiable actor had another busy year in 2013, appearing in the sly heist movie "Now You See Me" and voicing a tough-guy turkey in the underwhelming animated film "Free Birds." After reprising his role as Haymitch in the hit sequel "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," Harrelson was featured as a fearsome backwoods...

nifer Lawrence), a 16-year-old who volunteers for the deadly battle in order to replace her younger sister. That year also saw Harrelson deliver an exceptionally adroit performance as Steve Schmidt, senior strategist for Senator John McCain (Ed Harris) during the 2008 presidential campaign in "Game Change" (HBO, 2012). Based on the political tell-all of the same name by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, it focused on the selection of and consequent disillusionment with vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) in the months leading up to the McCain-Palin ticketâ¿¿s election loss. Harrelson's turn as Schmidt was hailed by critics and earned him an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. That year he also appeared in Martin McDonagh's raucous "Seven Psychopaths" as a ruthless dog-loving criminal desperate to get his kidnapped pooch back.

The amiable actor had another busy year in 2013, appearing in the sly heist movie "Now You See Me" and voicing a tough-guy turkey in the underwhelming animated film "Free Birds." After reprising his role as Haymitch in the hit sequel "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," Harrelson was featured as a fearsome backwoods criminal in the gritty thriller "Out of the Furnace," also starring Casey Affleck and Christian Bale. Harrelson made an unexpected return to TV opposite longtime friend Matthew McConaughey in the acclaimed cable drama "True Detective" (HBO 2014- ). The duo's single-season exploration of murder and morality made for one of the year's most talked-about series.

arrelson was entirely convincing as the Hustler founder whose routine court battles over the First Amendment conversely landed him in a wheel chair and in the public consciousness. Despite critical raves, the film failed to do well at the box office, perhaps partly due to the public frowning at the notion of Larry Flynt being portrayed as a champion of civil rights. Though Courtney Love's portrayal of Flynt's doomed wife Althea earned the lion's share of critical attention, an increasingly versatile Harrelson was perfect as the mercurial scumbag and earned his first Oscar nomination.

Continuing to maintain a steady feature career, Harrelson delivered a flamboyant performance in the relatively small role of a spaced-out U.S. journalist in "Welcome to Sarajevo" (1997), a portrayal that gained layers of depth as the picture progressed, notably in scenes following his return from discovering Serbian concentration camps. He was suitably heroic as "good old shoe" Sergeant William Schumann in Barry Levinson's political satire, "Wag the Dog" (1997). In "Palmetto" (1998), he played a reporter released from prison after new evidence surfaces proclaiming his innocence, only to be lured by the bewitching wife (Elizabeth Shue) of a dying millionaire into a kidnapping scheme involving her stepdaughter (Chloe Sevigny). Next, he delivered an outstanding performance as the larger-than-life hellraiser Big Boy Matson in "The Hi-Lo Country" (1998), fleshing out the powerful life force provided by screenwriter Walon Green. In this underrated, hard-edged romance, his Big Boy personified the dying breed of rugged individualists unable to compete against corporate farming taking root in the post-World War II west. After delivering a memorable cameo in Terrence Malick's elegiac war opus "The Thin Red Line" (1998), he returned to his comic roots as Matthew McConaughey's rakehell brother in Ron Howard's "EDtv" (1999).

Switching gears again, Harrelson reunited with Ron Shelton to star alongside Antonio Banderas as a pair of washed-up boxers attempting to rejuvenate their careers in Las Vegas in "Play It to the Bone" (2000). Aside from a starring role in the little-seen caper comedy "Scorched" (2003), Harrelson appeared primarily in cameo or supporting roles in films such as "Anger Management" (2003) and "She Hate Me" (2003), preferring instead to make news in his offscreen life as a proponent of vegan diets, the co-owner of a San Francisco oxygen bar and as an outspoken hemp activist and environmentalist. In 2004, the actor returned to the big screen in the amiable caper film "After the Sunset" (2004), playing an obsessed FBI agent trying to goad his retired jewel thief rival (Pierce Brosnan) into one more big score. In "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" (2005), he played the drunken bum husband of a housewife (Julianne Moore) who keeps her impoverished family afloat winning jingle contests while he drinks away the meager wages from his grueling job. After a supporting turn as a one-time local hockey hero-turned-big city lawyer in "North Country" (2005), Harrelson joined the ensemble cast for Robert Altman's fictional take on Garrison Keillor's long-running radio show, "A Prairie Home Companion" (2006), a loose anthology depicting the program on its final broadcast and populated by its usual strange cast of performing talent.

After spending several years largely out of the public eye, Harrelson reemerged with a string of supporting roles in several high-profile films. After playing the drugged-out friend of an undercover narcotics cop (Keanu Reeves) in "A Scanner Darkly" (2006), he delivered a brief, but memorable performance as a self-assured bounty hunter who crosses paths with a down-and-out Vietnam veteran (Josh Brolin) on the run with $2 million in drug money belonging to a ruthless killer (Javier Bardem) in "No Country For Old Men" (2007). Harrelson next played a poker player entering a tournament in hopes of saving his grandfather's casino in "The Grand" (2007), then portrayed the flamboyantly gay son of a Virginia senator who moonlights as a paid escort for middle-aged women and gets embroiled in a murder scandal in "The Walker" (2007). After co-starring alongside Will Ferrell in the goofball comedy "Semi-Pro" (2008), Harrelson starred opposite Emily Mortimer in the international thriller "Transsiberian" (2008) before bringing his activist nature to the screen in "Battle in Seattle" (2008), a dramatic look back at the 1999 protest against the World Trade Organization that went from a peaceful demonstration to a full-scale riot.

Harrelson continued his hot streak into the new year, starring in the hit horror comedy, "Zombieland" (2009), in which he played, Tallahassee, hunter of the undead, who leads a group of zombie neophytes through a post-apocalyptic America. In "2012" (2009), director Roland Emmerich's massive CGI epic about the end of the world based on the ancient Mayan calendar, he was a whacked-out conspiracy theorist whose prophesies about the world's demise are ignored by everyone. Following a supporting turn in the ensemble dramedy, "Management" (2009), he delivered a winning performance in "The Messenger" (2009), which starred Ben Foster as an Army sergeant returned home from Iraq who is assigned to the Army's Casualty Notification service. Harrelson's portrayal of his partner, Captain Tony Stone, earned the actor Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, Independent Spirit and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor. After a low-key 2010, Harrelson returned the following year with another Oscar-worthy performance in "Rampart" (2011), this time playing a hard-drinking, racist LAPD cop whose harsh methods jeopardize his career and the relationship with his dysfunctional family. The role created more Academy Award buzz for the actor, which started when he was nominated for another Independent Spirit Award.

Harrelson went from low-budget indie to one of the most anticipated blockbusters of the year with a supporting turn in "The Hunger Games" (2012), a futuristic sci-fi adventure where American adolescents are forced to participate in televised battles to the death that are part entertainment and part government intimidation. Harrelson portrayed Haymitch Abernathy, a former winner of the Games-turned-middle-aged alcoholic who serves as a mentor for Katniss Everdeen (Jen

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

3.
 Wilson (2016)
4.
 Besties (2016)
5.
 LBJ (2016)
6.
 Triple Nine (2016)
8.
 By Way of Helena (2015)
10.
 Free Birds (2013) Jake
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Born in Midland, TX
:
Deemed dyslexic, hyperactive and psychologically disturbed as a child
1968:
Father sent to prison for a contract killing
:
Placed in a school for children with behavioral problems; became deeply religious like his mother
:
Moved with mother and brothers to Lebanon, OH
:
Father released after his sentence was reduced
:
Appeared in more than 25 plays at Hanover College
:
Father sentenced to life imprisonment for the contract killing of a federal judge while Harrelson was in college
:
Began drinking heavily and getting into fights
1983:
Moved to NYC after graduating from college
:
Reportedly had 17 jobs in one year
:
Dropped by agent after becoming belligerent following an unsuccessful soap opera audition
1985:
Understudied two roles, Roy Selridge and Joseph Wykowski, in the Broadway production of Neil Simon's "Biloxi Blues"
1985:
TV series debut as Woody Boyd on "Cheers" (NBC); received five consecutive Emmy Award nominations (1987-1991) and won in 1989
1986:
Film debut, "Wildcats" opposite Goldie Hawn; first film with Wesley Snipes who also made his film debut
1987:
TV-movie debut, "Bay Coven" (NBC)
1988:
Appeared off-Broadway in "The Boys Next Door"
:
Mounted his own play "2 on 2" (on the subject of basketball) with Edward Albee's "The Zoo Story" in Hollywood
1990:
Formed own production company, Shepwood Productions
1991:
First notable role in a theatrical feature, "Doc Hollywood"
1991:
Dropped as grand marshall of the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade and canned as a spokesman for the Miller Brewing Company for speaking out against the Gulf War
1992:
Starred opposite Snipes in Ron Shelton's "White Men Can't Jump"
1993:
Co-starred with Demi Moore and Robert Redford in "Indecent Proposal"
1993:
Wrote, directed and acted in Los Angeles stage production "Furthest From the Sun"
1994:
Cast as one half of the murderous honeymoon team (with Juliette Lewis) in Oliver Stone's controversial "Natural Born Killers"
1995:
Reteamed with Snipes for the disappointing "Money Train"
1996:
Earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his superb turn as magazine publisher Larry Flynt in "The People vs. Larry Flynt"; Stone was one of the producers
1997:
Had supporting roles in "Welcome to Sarajevo" and "Wag the Dog"
1998:
Portrayed a 1940s rancher in the contemporary Western "The Hi-Lo Country"
1998:
Had a high-profile cameo as Sergeant Keck in Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line"
1999:
Reprised character of Woody Boyd on an episode of "Frasier"; earned Emmy nomination as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
1999:
Directed a revival of his stage play "Furthest From the Sun," starring Steve Guttenberg
1999:
Returned to Broadway as star of a revival of "The Rainmaker"
2000:
Acted on stage opposite Nick Nolte and Sean Penn in "The Late Henry Moss" written by Sam Shepard
2001:
Acted in a four-episode story arc on "Will & Grace" (NBC), playing a love interest for Debra Messing's Grace
2003:
Appeared opposite Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson in "Anger Management" as Galaxia/Garry the Guard
2004:
Cast in the Spike Lee comedy "She Hate Me"
2004:
Co-starred with Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek in "After the Sunset"
2005:
Cast opposite Julianne Moore in "The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio," about a single mom who enters a commercial jingle-writing contest to support her ten children
2005:
Played an idealistic lawyer in "North Country," a fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States
2006:
Cast in Robert Altman's ensemble feature "A Prairie Home Companion," based on Garrison Keilor's radio program
2006:
Starred in "A Scanner Darkly" a rotoscoped film by director Richard Linklater; adapted from the novel by Philip K. Dick
2007:
Co-starred with Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem in the Coen brothers' "No Country for Old Men"
2008:
Cast opposite Will Ferrell in the 1970s-era sports comedy "Semi-Pro"
2008:
Appeared as a blind pianist who befriends Will Smith's character in "Seven Pounds"
2009:
Played Jennifer Aniston's yogurt mogul ex-boyfriend in the comedy "Management"
2009:
Co-starred in Roland Emmerich's disaster film "2012"
2009:
Co-starred in the action comedy "Zombieland"
2009:
Co-starred with Ben Foster and Samantha Morton in the drama "The Messenger"; earned Golden Globe, SAG and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor
2009:
Nominated for the 2009 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture ("The Messenger")
2009:
Nominated for the 2009 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role ("The Messenger")
2009:
Nominated for the 2009 Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male ("The Messenger")
2009:
Nominated for the 2009 Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role ("The Messenger")
2012:
Starred as a Los Angeles veteran police officer in the action drama "Rampart"; script co-written by James Ellroy
2012:
Cast as former Tribute Haymitch Abernathy in feature adaptation of popular novel "The Hunger Games"
2012:
Cast in ensemble crime comedy "Seven Psychopaths"
2013:
Featured in the heist hit "Now You See Me"
2013:
Reprised his role as Haymitch in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
2013:
Played the lead antagonist in "Out of the Furnace"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Lebanon High School: Lebanon , Ohio -
Hanover College: Hanover , Indiana - 1983
Hanover College: Hanover , Indiana - 1983

Notes

Harrelson moonlighted as the lead singer and composer for a ten-piece "blues-a-billy" band, Manly Moondog and the Three Kool Kats, during the early 1990s.

Harrelson has been a partner in Sun International, a merchandizing company specializing in beach accessories.

"Even now, ten years into his career, Woody Harrelson comes with a good deal less packaging than the average multimillion-a-picture movie star. When he spoke out against the Gulf War in 1991, he not only got dropped as the grand marshal of the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade but was canned as a spokesman for the Miller Brewing Company. Now, with his advocacy of industrial hemp and his embrace of New Age spiritualism, there's a very real possibility that he'll inherit the title of Ultimate Hollywood Flake from Shirley MacLaine. The question is, who's handling this guy?"---From "Karma Chameleon" by Rob Buchanan, Premiere, October 1995.

In 1996, he withheld $10,000 of his 1995 federal income taxes to protest the government's environmental policies that use tax dollars "to desecrate nature."

Harrelson is an investor in the Hempstead Company of Costa Mesa, California, which promotes the use of industrial hemp for the manufacture of clothing, luggage, etc. He also ingests a daily dose of hemp oil for medicinal purposes, in addition to still puffing on the "ganja," although he has said "I don't like to push it so hard. I still like to have a rockin' good time, but I don't like to inflict permanent damage." Chicago Sun-Times, January 10, 1999.

In June 1996, Harrelson planted four seeds (five seeds would have turned a misdemeanor charge into a felony) of industrial hemp, challenging the constitutionality of a Kentucky state law that lumps industrial hemp with marijuana; since then, two court cases have deemed the law unconstitutional; Harrelson is actively involved in the effort to legalize the growing of industrial hemp, an environmentally-friendly cash crop which could take the pressure off American forests providing paper, as well as being a source for high-protein food, clothing, machine oils, etc.; In March 2000, however, the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned the lower court findings meaning that the actor would have to stand trial. A jury dismissed the charges in August.

In November 1996, along with eight other environmental activists, Harrelson scaled San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge to hang a banner protesting the logging of the ancient redwood wilderness at the Headwaters Complex. Arrested and charged with one misdemeanor count of tresspassing and one misdemeaner count of failing to respond to a peace officer's request, he received a sentence of 25 hours of community service teaching youngsters about environmental hazards.

"I don't think of myself as a political activist, but an economic activist. Get off those things economic that are wreaking havoc on the earth, and at the same time taking a lot of our tax dollars.

If you have an industry that you have to dump all kinds of toxic sludge into a river every day, who says that's OK? It's pretty basic to me.

Did you know that 95 percent of the world's paper was made from hemp? That everything from a hydrocarbon can be made from a carbohydrate? So why are we making plastic from petroleum? That's what I'm interested in.

Taking this country back and giving it to the farmer. That's what Henry Ford was about. That first Model T car was jute and hemp, and it had flexibility stronger than metal.

I've seen tapes of Ford hitting that car with a sledgehammer and it didn't dent the car. And the fuel was to be bio-fuel; you'd get fuel from hemp seeds."---Harrelson, quoted to the BOSTON HERALD, January 24, 1999.

"I just want to keep going around and telling people about these things," he said. "Looking at what's going on in the world, the nuclear, timber, the petroleum industries, we're seeing these things are not sustainable. What we need is a progressive leader."---Woody Harrelson quoted to Herald Tribune, January 30. 2004.

"I wasn't appreciating... being an actor," says harrelson. "And... that's a dangerous place to be because it's a job almost everyone in the world would want."---Harrelson on why he took a break from acting to EW, November 5, 2004.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Penelope Ann Miller. Actor. Dated while appearing on Broadway in "Biloxi Blues".
wife:
Nancy Simon. Daughter of playwright Neil Simon; whimsically married in Tijuana in 1985 intending to divorce the following day, but when the couple returned to the storefront marriage/divorce parlor, they found it closed because it was Sunday; marriage lasted 10 months; Harrelson would later tell USA TODAY's Tom Green, "We had to get a summary dissolution through Jacoby and Meyers. I think at the time Neil was a little bit worried I might try to go after her money.".
companion:
Glenn Close. Actor. Had five-month relationship in 1991.
wife:
Laura Louie. Born c. 1965; co-founded Yoganics, an organic food home delivery service in 1996; worked as Harrelson's assistant for over two years (1987 to c. 1990), before becoming romantically involved; partner in their production company, Children at Play; mother of Harrelson's two children; married in Costa Rica on January 11, 1998.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Charles Voyde Harrelson. Professional gambler. Born on July 23, c. 1939; jailed for a hired killing for much of Harrelson's childhood; currently serving time in a federal penitentiary for the contract killing of federal judge John Wood; believed by Harrelson to be a CIA operative; long thought to be one of "the hobos" taken away from the grassy knoll right after the shooting of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
mother:
Diane Harrelson. Legal secretary. Born c. 1937; deeply religious; divorced Harrelson's father c. 1964.
brother:
Jordan Harrelson. Actor. Older.
brother:
Brett Harrelson. Actor, personal trainer. Younger; professional motorcycle racer; co-starred in "People vs. Larry Flynt".
daughter:
Deni Montana Harrelson. Born on March 5, 1993; mother, Laura Louie.
daughter:
Zoe Harrelson. Born on September 22, 1996 in Costa Rica; mother, Laura Louie.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute