Saturday, 7 April 2012
WOODY HARRELSON-CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
Cheers to him.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
There are those leading men in Hollywood. The Clooney's and Pitt's. The best actors around who seem to do no wrong, commanding respect and scripts by the filmography load. Then there are the character actors. You know the kind, you see they're faces, always playing worn out cops or bitter lovers. Those who are constantly cast in cinema because they fit the bill perfectly of a specific motion picture player that a director wants to send out. Somewhere however, in between like the hour between day and night lies the magic. Those real actors that are willing to take on any challenge or role, purely because its in the nature of the greatest thespians to do this. The guys that like a challenge, a gift to their legacy but a curse to their legend.
Today, whether it be sports, music or this movie game those versatile ones that do everything seem to be underrated. Its that whole 'a jack of all trades is an expert at nothing' cliche or that notion of 'spreading yourself too thin' that really isn't true. Some of the greatest actors this industry have ever produced in Hollywood are the outsiders with the inside knowledge to stay in circles whilst remaining their own individual with their original talent. Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jnr anyone? Somewhere between character and leading acting lies the silver line of the silver screen stars and that's the Gold, Academy Oscar or not.
A long way from Hollywood down in Hawaii you may find the greatest example of this sitting in the boat and swaying through another lazy Sunday, with nothing round him but natural beauty, his friends and family, the cool, clean air and the faint sound of a telephone in a house nearby that just won't stop ringing. They're all calling for Woody Harrelson.
Woody has been a fond favourite for years, ever since playing the lovable fool pulling pints in everyone's favourite pub in Boston drawing more 'Cheers' than Norm with Ted Danson and Kelsey Grammer, all whilst becoming a household name from families in America to the rest of the sitcom loving world. Even when a 'Frasier' spin-off and all the shows that resulted in his new 'CSI' gig gave Grammer and Danson big respective futures, no one has quite taken off as favourably as Harrelson. From the legend of 'The People vs. Larry Flynt' to the iconic turn in the controversial classic 'Natural Born Killers' Woody already did it all in the youth of his career, but the nominations and the numbers of film a year keep coming today in middle age.
Now still in his prime from the T.V. to the theatre he's garnered some Emmy and Oscar consideration in some perfect portrayals of introspection of real life individuals of influence over the last decades. From stealing the show from Julianne Moore's heralded Sara Palin and Ed Harris' talented take on John McCain as behind the scenes strategist Steve Schimdt in the serious classic cable T.V. special 'Game Change' to bringing the raw and real as corrupt cop 'Rampart' in a siren loud, urban underground hit, statement film of the year Harrelson has no fear and limits to his range when dealing with the toughest parts. The awards should be his.
One of the nicest guys in Hollywood (he goes on holiday with Owen Wilson what more do you want from a guy?) and the same man who almost stole the show in last years funniest comedy 'Friends With Benefits' (a film that really showed us just how talented an actor singer Justin Timberlake is) as a lovable gay journalist (with a performance so hilarious even the deleted scene stealer's shouldn't have been left on the cutting room floor) showed just how great he really is. Playing two unsettling, unlikeable characters and ultimately making the audience root for them is no easy task, but Woody owned and walked it even when he didn't need to.
Now after a great last year in 2011 and a new year that has had two resolute hits under his belt before April you would think that would be enough right? Well we forgot to mention that Woody has joined another ageless 50 year old with no limits to his talent in rock God Lenny Kravitz in acting like a young starving actor. With another breakthrough performance in the latest book turned movie, everyone is talking about nothing but 'The Hunger Games' and Woody's performance as the games legend Haymich is garnering a cult following to go next to his critical acclaim. With all these perfect performances this year we may all be talking about the actor of the year and the most underrated actor of our generation. Just wait until he catches fire.
Early in his career Woody caught a 'Moneytrain' with Wesley Snipes and showed us that white men actually could jump in one of basketball's highest scoring movies. He bowled us over in 'Kingpin' and even kissed Demi Moore after an 'Indecent Proposal'. He's wowed the Academy as of late with the mesmerising 'The Messenger' and in the past given us fits of laughter in a cross-dressing character changing cameo in Adam Sandler movie 'Anger Management' and more recently returned to the big leagues of blockbuster screens from the silly to the serious.
Woody went to Frasier's town for the thoughtful 'Battle In Seattle' teaming up with talented rapper turned actor Andre 3000. He illustrated a complex part in the real life, experimental animated 'Sin City' style 'A Scanner Darkly', before moving us beyond word with a thoughtful and tender performance as a blind man in Will Smith's 'Seven Pounds'. The star really has opened our eyes to the depths of his talents when reigning in all the ranges of human emotion. From the laughter and emotional tears, to the chuckles and dramatically critical praised cheers there is no one quite like Woody. Whether it be playing a clinically cold bounty hunter in 'No Country For Old Men' or a teasingly talented, frowning funnyman, Zombie killer in 'Zombieland', this Texas born star has worn his stetson with pride, tipping between the genres but never falling over himself, walking the line until cash played like Johnny. Respect has been paid in full to this man that is well and truly back.
Whether he's appearing in 'Will & Grace', or calling it crazy in apocalypse movie '2012'. Whether he's thinking about the environment, or talking about the Bible. Playing Basketball in his movies (the hilarious 'Semi-Pro' is another example), or soccer with chef Gordon Ramsey for charity (he kicked the winning penalty by the way). Whether donning an equally trademark Scoody Doo Shaggy long hair or shaved, crew cut (thanks Stephen Colbert), Woody is Woody. Woodrown Tracy Harrelson one of the worlds greatest and most loved people and actors. After all this time, through his body of work, wealth of talent and the fact that he is the same nice guy he's always been, people are finally beginning to get this man and see him for who he really is. Its been long overdue time for everyone to raise their glasses to this man, so after all that has been said and done over his astonishingly phenomenal 30 year career and the last 12 months (let alone 30 days), how about a toast and another round if we can?