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INT: Woody Harrelson

After a long layoff, enigmatic actor Woody Harrelson returns to the world of film this Friday with the heist flick AFTER THE SUNSET, directed by Brett Ratner. Set in the Caribbean, it features Woody as an FBI agent determined to track down an elusive jewel thief (Pierce Brosnan) who is now retired and living the good life in the Bahamas with his girlfriend/partner in crime (Salma Hayek). Convinced that he’s planning another heist, Woody travels to the island in a bid to finally catch his long-time adversary.

It’s understandable that Harrelson, who took some time off to focus on stage work, would choose this project to end his layoff with. Who wouldn’t want to spend a few months in an island paradise, working alongside hotties like Salma Hayek and Naomie Harris? Nice work if you can get it. Woody stopped by the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills last week to talk about his return to film acting. He was pretty laid-back, which isn’t entirely unexpected given his famous penchant for a certain herb. Very cool, though. Check it out.

WOODY HARRELSON

What was it about this film that brought you out of the theatre and onto the big screen again?

I had been wanting to get back into the game. I’d been out of it for, I don’t know, five years or something, at least. I had been doing theatre…back to my roots. I guess I’d been wanting to work for about a year, year and a half, but I didn’t want to start working on just anything, you know? And there were a lot of good offers, probably some things I should have done, but this particular thing…I wanted to do it from the minute I read it. You know, in terms of movies that people like, some people like the comedy, the drama, whatever, but everybody likes a good heist movie. I’m no exception; I love a good heist movie. Ok, which one of you guys doesn’t like a good heist movie? Huh? You? (laughs) Anyway, I thought it was great. All the twists and turns and the way that the relationship works between my character and Pierce, I really loved that. I don’t know, I’m just privileged to be a part of this.

I honestly think that this heist movie is unique unto itself. I’ve never seen anything like it. It doesn’t fall into all of the stereotypical things you might expect. I love the fact that the…most times you have: this character’s good, this character’s bad, and there’s a lot of animosity between them and, you know, the only time they come together is to fight – the final fight. That kind of thing. This I love (because) me and Pierce start with this acrimony and I love the way that we befriend each other. But still, I’m pursuing him. (whispers: “Not that way, though.”) I think Brett Ratner is a really first-rate director and I think he really delivered on this one. 

It probably didn’t hurt that you guys got to shoot down in the Bahamas.

Yeah, well that never hurts.

It was weird to see you as a law enforcement officer. Was it fun to take on that kind of a role?

You know, it really was. I’ve always been of the mind that…I have that statement by Abraham Lincoln in my mind: “I destroy my enemies by making them my friends.” And in some ways, I have to say, I’ve regarded the FBI as an enemy. Certainly, they haven’t done well for certain members of my family. I was really intrigued by the concept because of that, in a way. I wanted to go meet some FBI agents and see if they were human, because I have a very stereotypical image – probably most of us do – you know, the suit and the glasses, very serious and stern.

And yet I went and met some who I just thought were really cool guys, just regular guys in almost every other way, other than the job.  But particularly I met one guy named Warren Flagg, who they call the “Flagg-Man.” He’s kind of a legendary New York FBI agent who (has spent) 25 years doing the job. And this guy is like this rogue FBI agent who never did anything by the book. And it was hanging out with the Flagg-Man that made me believe I could do this. It made me believe that I could be believable at it because it didn’t have to be such a strict, confined thing. And the Flagg-Man has a sense of humor. And I’d like to think Stanley Lloyd does too.

What about the story that you got frustrated with Ratner and jumped off the boat and threw a punch? What really happened?

Where’d you hear that?

New York Post

.

(Woody laughs hysterically) No, we did fake a fight. Yeah, we did. Just for fun.

Did people believe it?

Everybody believed it. 

Are there a lot of practical jokes on a Brett Ratner set?

There were. It was a very familial kind of set. That’s always the best experience. You go and do a project and you hope for it to turn into a family, which is what it did. So, it was a good experience.

What was it like working with Salma?

Salma is just one of the great goddesses put on this earth, who actually every year gets more beautiful. She’s like…what’s the story of…the book, you know? Where the guy…

Dorian Grey?

Dorian Grey. Yeah, I read it not that long ago. It is exactly that. It’s the portrait of Dorian Grey, man. It’s like, how is she doing it? It’s impossible that she’s getting more beautiful every year. And yet she is. As a person, she’s also…you know, she’s one of those people who truly cares about her friends, always making sure that everyone’s ok. Like, when she used to go out with my buddy Ed, she had a dinner party – probably about this many people. For every single person, she got these plate, these blank plates, and painted for every plate, painted these images on all the plates, every one unique. There’s just something extraordinary about that Salma Hayek. I’ve known her many, many years. She’s like my sister in a way. You know, the kinda sister at two o’clock in the morning, you start to think, “Hmmm…”  (laughs)

What was it like shooting the scene where you’re in bed with Pierce?

The thing about Pierce, in bed he’s gentle, thoughtful, patient…and aggressive. (laughs) I don’t know.  It was fun. I enjoyed it. We actually did a lot of laughing that day, because you put two guys in bed with each other who are completely secure with their femininity and it’s a lot of hijinks.

What do you have coming up next?

Ok, here’s the interesting thing. On the same day that this movie is coming out, which is November 12th, there’s this other little movie called GO FURTHER, which is a documentary I did. It is fantastic. It was done by Ron Mann, the same guy who did Grass, and he’s a wonderful documentarian. And it documents me and my buddy’s biking from Seattle to Santa Barbara – about 1500 miles – and talking to people about things that we care about. And he turned out this amazing, fun, refreshing movie that, although it does have a message, it doesn’t like preach to you. It’s just one of the most entertaining movies that I’ve done.

So that is coming out at the same time. If you mention it, that would be great. On the other hand, after I shot After the Sunset, I did this movie, THE BIG WHITE. I play this small part – but fun part – as a psycho brother of Robin Williams. Holly Hunter’s in that. And Giovanni Ribisi. Then after that I did a little part – but again, a fun part – in this movie called A SCANNER DARKLY, based on the Phillip K. Dick Novel. And it’s Rick Linklater who directed it. And he’s gonna direct it in the same style as WAKING LIFE – you know, where he films it digitally – and now they’re painting in each frame. That I think is gonna be great. Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr. and Wynnona Ryder are in that, and I think it’s gonna be really good. I just have a little fun part.

And then the last movie that I just finished a couple weeks ago…it was in Toronto…It’s called THE PRIZEWINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO. That’s with Julianne Moore. It’s based on this book. Jane Anderson directed it. And I play her (Julianne’s) husband, an alcoholic, somewhat abusive husband. And that was a unique role. I think that’s gonna be a fantastic movie. Bob Zemeckis is one of the producers…and Jack Rapke, they feel the same way about it. I haven’t done anything since then. I’m hoping to just take some time – I went back for 10 days to home in Hawaii and had a blast with my family. But then I had to come hang with you guys. And then I’m gonna go back and take a couple, three months off, and then I got a lotta stuff lined up for 2005. And I’m just gonna work really hard for at least two more years, and then I’m gonna be that lazy little Life of Reilly guy I was before.

Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at [email protected].

Source: JoBlo.com

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