Woody Harrelson: “A drama has all these modes of emotionality that I spend my life working to avoid”

Woody Harrelson is best known for comedic roles (Kingpin, Zombieland), savage dramas (Natural Born Killers, No Country For Old Men), and of course, playing Woody Boyd on the long-running sitcom Cheers.

But the prolific actor (he has appeared in at least four films a year since 2007) opened the eyes of many in the role of Army Captain Tony Stone in The Messenger, which even nabbed him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.

Surprisingly, also nominated for The Messenger (for co-writing the screenplay) was first-time director Oren Moverman.  After that successful pairing, it’s no surprise that Harrelson and Moverman got together again with Rampart, which premiered during the Toronto Film Festival.

Rampart is another drama about the even dirtier Dirty Harry-ish LAPD cop “Date Rape” Dave Brown whose long history of ethics violation comes back to haunt him during the LAPD Rampart scandals of the late 1990s.  Yet despite being the second heavy drama for Harrelson, he admits to the Los Angeles Times that his true passion is for comedies, which he feels more natural about.  He explains, “Frankly I prefer doing comedies. A drama has all these modes of emotionality that I spend my life working to avoid.”  So why do dramas?  The outspoken Harrelson seems an unlikely choice to play regimented characters in the military or police department — even the bad ones — and Harrelson agrees, admitting, “There are two things I never thought I’d play: a cop and a soldier. It’s just my anti-authority mindset. But Oren makes everything an almost personal experience. There’s just so much going on in a given scene.”  I guess we can credit Moverman with shifting Harrelson toward dramas, and based on what they’ve done so far, there’s no reason not to welcome future collaborations.

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