Woody Harrelson Adds Playwright-Director to His List of Life's Roles

By Stuart Miller
14 Jul 2012

Harrelson at a recent press event
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
The duo's Furthest From the Sun debuted in 1993 in Los Angeles and Woody directed a re-written version in 1999. That play's characters are around in Bullet for Adolf but "it is so different you can't even call it the same play," Woody says. "That one didn't even really have a plot."

Two years ago, they introduced one new character — their former boss Jurgen — as the catalyst, hosting a dinner party in which a "World War II artifact" disappears (both authors prefer maintaining some mystery); Bullet for Adolf finally took shape. (Hyman and others involved hated that name initially but Woody won them over.)

Even then, they only had the show "three-quarters finished — and it's generous to say that," Woody chuckles, until he found a theatre in Toronto to stage it last year. The deadline forced them to finish, though that led Woody to believe that the New York version would be a simple reproduction. "Nothing works like that," he laughs about the changes in lines, props, and blocking.

Woody has final say as director — and as the marquee name and the one with theatre experience — but he says "we get along best when we're writing together. Everything is fluid and we finish each other's sentences."

"The play is really good but there's always room for improvement," he says. "It's all about nuance — making moments a little richer, developing characters a little more or building the laughs."

While the play started as autobiography, it has become increasingly fictionalized, and Woody says, "the characters stand on their own now," allowing them to be ruthless about changes. He and Hyman added about three pages worth of new material but with three weeks to go he cut an entire scene. He's still looking to trim the two-hour play but that, he acknowledges, is mostly force of Hollywood habit, where comedies shouldn't stray beyond 90 minutes.

After this? Well, hard to say. Numerous films, of course, including "Hunger Games" sequels. He'd love to act on stage again but after an unsatisfying London experience with Night of the Iguana, it would have to be a comedy, "the right play, with the right director and the right cast."

Whatever the medium or his role, Woody wants more funny stuff. "The thing that makes me happiest in life is making people laugh."

He has discovered he loves writing and directing. "As an actor, even on a good project with a good director it's someone else's vision," he says. "I've always wanted to present what I think is funny and see if people laugh. I have twisted sense of humor — some might find it offensive."

The problem isn't conceiving projects, it's finishing them. "They say 'Hunger is the best sauce when it comes to eating,' and it's true for writers but I'm not hungry, I have too easy a life," he says. "I love just hanging out with my family in Maui. I'm doing nothing in the sense of not completing projects — I'm not getting work done, I'm getting life done."

He and Hyman are working two more plays, one a Bullet sequel, though that one is barely a scene so far ("three-quarters of one," he admits). And he has three screenplays that are "three-quarters written," he says, before confessing that one is "half-written. Okay, maybe a quarter."

But after a busy 2012, shifting from movies to theatre, acting to directing, he feels like he's on a roll. "Right now I'm in the mode of getting things done," he says.