Name:
Woody Harrelson
Birth Date:
July 23, 1961
Birth Place:
Midland, Texas, USA
Height:
5' 11''
Nationality:
American
Famous for:
Oscar nominee for 'The People vs. Larry Flynt' (1996)
Profession:
Actor, Produce, Composer
Education:
Lebanon High School in Lebanon, Ohio
BIOGRAPHY
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Woody Boyd

Background:

"When I let up from the weed, and the drinking too, I cried every day. And I liked that. I like crying. And now I not only wanna cry and show my crying to other people, I wanna just split myself down the middle and open my guts and just throw everything out!" Woody Harrelson.

First noticed while playing the Emmy-winning role of bartender Woody Boyd (1985-1993) on the now classic NBC sitcom "Cheers," Woody Harrelson garnered international attention when he earned Best Actor Oscar nomination for portraying controversial pornographer Larry Flynt in the biopic The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996). He has starred in such films as Doc Hollywood (1991), White Men Can't Jump (1992), Indecent Proposal (1993), Natural Born Killers (1994), The Thin Red Line (1998), Play It to the Bone (1999), After the Sunset (2004) and North Country (2005). Recently seen in A Prairie Home Companion and A Scanner Darkly, Harrelson is set to star in the upcoming films The Grand, The Walker, No Country for Old Men, and Then She Found Me. He is currently on the board of the directors for the Ex'pression Center For New Media, an art school in Emeryville, California.

The 5' 11" tall, blond, blue-eyed and somewhat slack-jawed actor was one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in The World” (1990). He was romantically linked to actresses Glenn Close (had five-month relationship in 1991) and Penelope Ann Miller (dated while appearing on Broadway in “Biloxi Blues”). The ex-husband of Nancy Simon (playwright Neil Simon’s daughter), Harrelson is now married to his former assistant and has three daughters.

Off screen, Harrelson is somewhat controversial. He is an outspoken supporter for the legalization of marijuana (he has been arrested several times for his activities) and hemp in the USA. He is also an antiwar activist and has often spoken publicly against the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“I don't think of myself as a political activist, but an economic activist...Did you know 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... the fuel was to be bio-fuel; you'd get fuel from hemp seeds." Woody Harrelson.


Hitman’s Son

Childhood and Family:

Born in Midland, Texas, on July 23, 1961, Woodrow Tracy Harrelson grew up in Lebanon, Ohio, Ohio with his deeply religious mother, Diane Lou Oswald (born in 1937; was a legal secretary; divorced Woody’s father in 1964). His father, Charles Voyde Harrelson (born July 23, 1938), was a professional hitman and was jailed for performing a hired killing for most of Woody’s childhood. He has been convicted twice for committing paid murders: in 1968 and in 1978, for the murder of Federal Judge John Wood. Woody once believed that his father was a CIA operative and one of "the hobos" taken away from the “grassy knoll” in Dallas, Texas, right after the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. He has also often said that his father's past has colored his own present.

Woody has two brothers: Jordan Harrelson (actor; older) and Brett Harrelson (actor, professional motorcycle racer; younger). A deemed dyslexic, hyperactive and psychologically disturbed as a child, Woody attended Lebanon High School and later studied drama at Hanover College in Indiana on scholarship. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Arts and English in 1983. He was also a member of Sigma Chi fraternity.

On June 29, 1985, Harrelson married playwright Neil Simon’s daughter, Nancy Simon, but they divorced the following year. He then tied the knot with his former assistant, Laura Louie (she also co-founder of Yoganics, an organic food delivery service, and a partner in their production company, Children at Play), on January 11, 1998. The couple, who have been together since 1990, has three daughters: Deni Montana (born March 5, 1993), Zoe Giordano (born September 22, 1996), and Makani Ravello (born June 3, 2006). They referred to their three daughters as their "goddess trilogy." As of 2004, Harrelson lives with his wife and children in Costa Rica.

A good friend of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Harrelson also moonlights as the lead singer in the band Manly Moondog and the Three Kool Hats. His friends from the rock band Hootie & The Blowfish wrote the song "Woody" about him. The song is featured on the group's eponymous 2003-album.


The People vs. Larry Flynt

Career:

Aspiring actor Woody Harrelson began performing in high school plays and made his TV debut appearance in the comedy starring Barbara Eden, Harper Valley P.T.A. in 1978. After graduating from college, he moved to New York City. In 1985, he understudied two roles, Roy Selridge and Joseph Wykowski, in the Broadway production of Neil Simon's "Biloxi Blues." That same year, his big break arrived as he won the role of charming, naïve bartender Woody Boyd on the NBC sitcom “Cheers.” The notable role earned Harrelson five consecutive Emmy Award nominations (1987-1991) and won him one in 1989, for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He also won the "Funniest Newcomer" at the American Comedy Awards. Harrelson continued to stay on the long-running show until its conclusion in 1993.

Meanwhile, Harrelson got his first film speaking role, only one line, as a high school football player whose coach is Goldie Hawn, in Michael Ritchie's 1986 football comedy Wildcats. It also featured Wesley Snipes in his first feature appearance. Afterward, Harrelson acted mostly on the small screen, on NBC made-for-TV melodramas Bay Coven (1987) and Killer Instinct (1988) as well as Cheers: 200th Anniversary Special (1990) and Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme (1990). He also starred in the direct-to-video romantic comedy Cool Blue/Creative Detour (1990) and played bit parts in 1991 films Ted and Venus and L.A. Story. On stage, he appeared off-Broadway in a production of "The Boys Next Door" in 1988. Harrelson formed his own production company, Shepwood Productions, in 1990.

Harrelson eventually revived when director Michael Caton-Jones handed him the role of Hank Gordon, a small-town insurance salesman who is also Michael J Fox's romantic rival, in 1991's romantic comedy Doc Hollywood, based on the book "What? Dead again?" by Neil Shulman M.D. The next year, he nabbed his first leading role in a major motion picture, in Ron Shelton's White Men Can't Jump, alongside Wesley Snipes. The basketball comedy movie proved to be one of the surprise box-office hits that year. Harrelson followed it up with another memorable role, as Demi Moore’s jealous yuppie husband who let his wife sleeping with another man to get one million dollars, in Adrian Lyne's fanciful romantic drama inspired by Jack Engelhard's novel, Indecent Proposal (1993; also starring Robert Redford). Also in that year, Harrelson wrote, directed and acted in Los Angeles stage production, “Furthest From the Sun.”

The next years saw Harrelson teamed with Juliette Lewis as lovers and psychopathic serial murderers in Oliver Stone's controversial Natural Born Killers (1994) and reunited with Snipes as two foster brothers in Joseph Ruben's disappointing movie Money Train (1995; also with Jennifer Lopez; Harrelson played a vengeful New York transit cop who steals a trainload of subway fares). He also garnered international attention in 1996 when he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his brilliant turn as controversial pornography publisher Larry Flynt in Milos Forman's biographical drama The People vs. Larry Flynt.

During the rest of the 1990s, Harrelson had supporting roles in 1997’s Welcome to Sarajevo and Wag the Dog, a high-profile cameo as Sergeant Keck in Terrence Malick's 1998 WW II film adapted from the James Jones novel of the same name, The Thin Red Line (had previously been adapted in 1964) and played a 1940s rancher opposite Billy Crudup in Stephen Frears' take on Max Evans' novel, the contemporary Western The Hi-Lo Country (1998). He played Matthew McConaughey's rakehell brother in Ron Howard's EDtv and reteamed with writer-director Ron Shelton to star opposite Antonio Banderas, as two best friends and former boxers trying to resurrect their careers in Las Vegas, in Play It to the Bone (both in 1999). In an episode of "Frasier," Harrelson reprised his Woody Boyd character and earned Emmy nomination as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. As for his stage work, Harrelson directed a revival of his stage play "Furthest From the Sun," starring Steve Guttenberg, and returned to Broadway as star of a revival of "The Rainmaker."

In the new millennium, Harrelson performed on stage in a production of "The Late Henry Moss," written by Sam Shepard, opposite Nick Nolte and Sean Penn. He then played a love interest for Debra Messing's Grace, Nathan, on several episodes of the NBC sitcom "Will & Grace" before appearing with Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson in Peter Segal's comedy Anger Management (2003), as Galaxia/Garry the Guard. Subsequently, he was cast in Spike Lee’s comedy She Hate Me and in Brett Ratner's thriller After the Sunset, as an FBI agent who caught in a cat-and-mouse game with a master thief (played by Pierce Brosnan).

In 2005, Harrelson became Julianne Moore's alcoholic husband in Jane Anderson's biopic based on the book by Terry Ryan, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, and played an idealistic attorney in director Niki Caro's Oscar-nominated film North Country, based on the case Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co. brought by Lois Jenso, alongside Oscar nominees Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand. More recently, he appeared as singing cowboy Dusty in Robert Altman's comedy A Prairie Home Companion (Meryl Streep, Lindsay Lohan and Tommy Lee Jones), based on Garrison Keilor's long-lived radio program with the same name, and appeared in Richard Linklater's rotoscoped film A Scanner Darkly (costarring with Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder), based on the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name. Harrelson is set to star in the upcoming films The Grand, The Walker, No Country for Old Men, and Then She Found Me.


Awards:

  • Woodstock Film Festival: Honorary Maverick Award, 2003

  • Western Heritage Awards: Theatrical Motion Picture, The Hi-Lo Country, 1999

  • MTV Movie Awards: Best Kiss, Indecent Proposal, 1994

  • Razzie: Worst Supporting Actor, Indecent Proposal, 1994

  • Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, “Cheers,” 1989

  • American Comedy Awards: Funniest Newcomer - Male or Female, “Cheers,” 1987

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