In Rampart, his second film with director Oren Moverman, Woody Harrelson again appears as an authority figure, something that Harrelson is never completely comfortable with.
After receiving an Oscar nominated for his role as an Army captain in his first film with Moverman (The Messenger), Harrelson plays Dave Brown, a corrupt Los Angeles police officer. However, as he tells the Wall Street Journal, it wasn’t easy for Harrelson to get in the mindset of a cop… and he even had to turn to a three-time Academy Award winner to learn the finer points of smoking cigarettes!
It certainly is quite a stretch for the laid-back, drug legalization advocate, peace activist Harrelson to be playing a cop. He admits, “I had to really focus because it’s hard to imagine myself as a cop. It really is, I am a happy hippy from Hawaii and here I am. I had to spend a lot of time with the cops and just try to saturate myself in that mentality for a while.”
However, of all the mentality and personality Harrelson had to adopt for the role he reveals that the hardest part was smoking. He says, “It was also hard to imagine myself as a cigarette smoker. I loathe cigarettes.” In fact, Harrelson had to ask one of his famous friends to help him get the convincing mannerisms of a smoker. He explains, “I hang out sometimes with Jack Nicholson and I went over to his house one day and I was sitting there talking and prepping for this movie and I told him I was doing this movie and I told him what you could really help me with is cigarettes. I don’t know how people hold cigarettes; it always looks fake, if someone doesn’t know how. He really took me through and how you tap the thing with cigarettes and he went through when you smoke. You smoke after you eat, after sex, when you are tense and he kept going and I realized, hold it, you smoke all the time if you are a smoker. There are so many reasons.”