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Woody Harrelson is riding high with "Zombieland," opening Oct. 2
He's had his ups, his downs, his ins and outs. But it's all coming back, now. Seriously, is there a cooler guy in the movies this minute than Woody Harrelson?
"Hang on. Let me tape that. My kids have GOT to hear that one!"
The cocky, funny-but-doomed cowboy hit-man in No Country for Old Men defied expectations and sent the Wood-man on a roll. He followed it with a riveting turn as a tourist caught up in murder and intrigue behind the old Iron Curtain in Transsiberian.
This November, he's the online loon who accurately predicts the Apocalypse in the disaster movie 2012.
"I love that, that idea of a guy who's the only one to see the truth," says an actor who might have lost some career steam due to his lonely but loud advocacy for the hemp plant. "And if you want to know what the end of the world looks like, go to a Roland Emmerich movie."
But the film that has fan buzz, the one that could truly make Harrelson "money" again at the ripe old age of 48, is Zombieland, opening Friday. He's the swaggering redneck survivor of zombie Armageddon, a gun-toting good ol' boy who has given up names since civilization ended. Call him Tallahassee -- and call him one bad hombre.
"Harrelson again proves himself an actor willing to go out on any limb for goofy effect," Variety enthuses.
"This one was kind of a shot in the dark," Harrelson says in that West Texas drawl. "But then I saw what Ruben [Fleisher], the director, was doing, and I realized 'This could be good.'." How DO you play a bad-eyed zombie killer?
"I tried to get into a guy's mind set, you know, think about what's he's been through -- losing everyone. And then your REAL imagination kicks in. 'What if the world had been over-run by zombies?'
"I never worked so long and hard on an outfit in my life," he says about an important aspect of the character. "What this guy wears is who he is. You want to get a sense of this guy as soon as you see him. So I pick out the necklaces, the sunglasses. But the hat? The minute you see that on Tallahassee, you buy him. He's real. And he's got a real cool hat," a Real Deal Brazil recycled tarp hat.
Just don't confuse Tallahassee with Woody -- not that there's much danger of that.
"I don't like Twinkies, I don't carry guns and I would never drive a Humvee," says the actor whose environmentalism is as well-known as his efforts to win the legalization of marijuana.
"Everybody paints him as this good-time Charlie. But he has a lot of integrity," says John C. Reilly, who co-starred with Harrelson in The Thin Red Line and A Prairie Home Companion. "I like how he sticks to his principles, in spite of what it might sometimes cost him. And he works a lot."
"I'm in the middle of a pretty good run now," Harrelson admits. "The good offers are coming my way again. I've been pretty happy with most of the parts, and that hasn't always been the case." But an end of the world prophet and a one-liner-slinging zombie-killer?
"I don't really see it, but if they cast me, I'll cash the checks."
Roger Moore can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-5369.