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5 Indelible Performances by Woody Harrelson; Plus a Look at His Possible 6th in ‘The Duel’

woody-harrelson

It’s been over thirty years since Woody Harrelson first appeared as flakey bartender Woody Boyd on Cheers, a role which for many years seemed to encapsulate his personality and his range.

Not long after the series had ended, audiences started to see Mr. Harrelson’s startling range and talent.  With a broad filmography, Harrelson has delivered one startling performance after another.  Let’s take a look at five of his most unforgettable as well as take a look at an upcoming performance that might joing that list.

Natural Born Killers

Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Oliver Stone, Natural Born Killers was extremely controversial for it’s time, but also featured one of the most eclectic casts assembled on film including Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Downey Jr., Tommy Lee Jones, Edie McClurg, Steven Wright and Mark Harmon.  Harrelson played Mickey Knox, who with his bride Mallory (Juliette Lewis), go on a road trip killing spree, killing virtually everyone in their path.  A post-modern mixed-media blood bath.

The Hunger Games Series

Woody Harrelson played Haymitch Abernathy in all four films of The Hunger Games series.  As the mentor to Katniss Everdeen, Haymitch starts the series as a raging alcoholic, an indifferent and apathetic mentor.  Yet, thanks to Harrelson’s performance, the character is not only instantly likable, but also sympathetic.  In the world of Panem, Haymitch is the only individual of equal strength and resolve as Katniss, and with a lifetime of loss behind him, perhaps the most interesting character in the series.

The People Vs Larry Flynt

You could argue that this is Harrelson’s best performance playing Larry Flynt, the founder and publisher of Hustler magazine.  The role earned him an Academy Award, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nomination and featured Harrelson’s brother, Brett, as Flint’s brother, Jimmy.  In the film, Harrelson plays Flynt who goes from running strip clubs, to launching Hustler, to a destructive marriage with former stripper Althea Leasure, becoming born again, through an assassination attempt (leaving him paralyzed), renouncing God, to a number of lawsuits defending smut as his first amendment right, ultimately finding him alone in a wheelchair watching videos of Althea before her AIDS related death.  The film has an amazing cast including Edward Norton,  Courtney Love, James Cromwell, Crispin Glover and Vincent Schiavelli, but Harrelson’s performance is the one you can’t turn your eyes away from.

No Country For Old Men

As bounty hunter Carson Wells, Harrelson plays a small, supporting role in this Coen Brothers masterpiece.  With less than twenty minutes of screen time, Harrelson serves some much needed exposition shortly before his unexpected death at the hands of the film’s killer, his acquaintance Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem).

True Detective

From creator Nic Pizzolatto and director Cary Fukunaga, the first season of True Detective focused on former detective partners Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Harrelson) in in 2012, recapping a case they worked on together investigating a serial killer in 1995. There’s no doubt that McConaughey’s Cohle has the more dynamic part, but it’s Harrelson’s more subtle performance (especially as the viewer contrasts the character across the almost twenty year storyline) that anchors the more far-fetched conspiracies that abound in the series. Harrelson’s role as a cop, a partner, a husband and a father are often at odds with one another, making both the performance and character unpredictable.

On June 24th, Harrelson might be adding another indelible performance in The Duel, costarring his Hunger Games collaborator Liam Hemsworth, which will be playing in theaters and On Demand! June 24th!

THEDUELfinalposter

The Duel follows Texas Ranger (Hemsworth) who investigates a series of murders in a small town led by a charismatic preacher (Harrelson). However, the routine undercover investigation soon turns personal for the ranger who must solve the case before he loses everything to the mysterious town.

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