Like all other nominees for Best Supporting Actor (Drama) in tomorrow’s Golden Globes, Woody Harrelson, who plays an intense, bad-news-bearing Army captain in The Messenger, will probably just have to consider himself lucky enough to lose to Christoph Waltz. And though Harrelson’s Oscars stock has been rising steadily, with the Globes nod and a SAG nomination and a win from the National Board of Review, the reality of the situation does not escape him. “Fortunately, I saw Inglourious Basterds. I saw The Last Station. I have no illusion that I’m going to win anything at this point. So it’s an easy ride for me!” he said, smiling and chomping on vegan risotto at a luncheon for The Messenger at Monkey Bar earlier this week.
Harrelson has done more publicity for The Messenger than he’s done for any other movie in his career, including trekking out to every film festival that’s showed it, from Sarasota to Woodstock. And the pre-premiere rounds have now blended into awards-season campaigning rounds. “I just go where they tell me, the dog and pony show,” he says. “It really is shameless self-promotion. I just try to take it as fun and hanging out with cool folks and old friends and just having a fun time. It’s not like I have this overwhelming desire to win anything and get nominated for anything.” Why, because wanting to win turns good people into monsters? “Really,” he said, “it’s just a matter of dashed hopes that’s the big issue.”
In his effort to make awards season as much fun as possible, Harrelson and his co-star Ben Foster partook in midday Bloody Marys at a luncheon where all other glasses contained water or white wine. The duo, who spend all their time at awards shows hanging out together with the film’s director, Oren Moverman, and producer, Lawrence Inglee, popped out frequently to smoke. (Foster had a pack of Winstons in each of his shirt pockets.) “We shot the film two years ago and we’re like the last kids at the party to leave,” said Foster. “When you find your group, it feels good. Friends like that don’t show up very often, and we know it.” That doesn’t mean Harrelson is going to convince his new pal to turn vegan any time soon, though. “Fuck no!” said Foster. “Get me blood in a bowl and a straw. We tolerate each other’s eccentricities.”
Most of their interactions seemed to shift between deep, philosophical discussions and Foster’s porkpie hat, which, Harrelson announced to Moverman, he planned to steal. “I am a thief,” he said. “I cannot lie.” This was not, apparently, an isolated occurrence. “If you wear a hat around Woody, inevitably he will be wearing it by the end of the night, and then neither of you will ever see it again,” Moverman explained. “We’ve all learned that if you like a hat now, you have to buy two.” Said Harrelson, “I’m a little bit Marxist when it comes to clothes. They’re communal property. I stole this jacket from somebody and somebody will probably steal this jacket from me. And I’m going to steal Ben’s hat before he leaves. He just doesn’t know it yet.” (For the record, Foster still had his hat by the luncheon’s end.)
At the end of this halcyon period of downing hard liquor and chain smoking at awards shows together, if the gang of four walk away with nothing but each other’s clothes, it’s okay. They like working together so much that they’re all planning to do another movie together with the production company Foster and Moverman just started together. (We think, they were all being vague.) Harrelson will star as a policeman in what he said is “probably the best role I’ve ever read. This one [in The Messenger] is going to have to take number two.” Inglee, who’s also producing, said Foster will have a small part, too, but it’s mostly going to be about Harrelson in a “total body transformation.” He didn’t want to say much more for fear of jinxing the movie, but did offer this: “It’ll do for another world of uniformed people what The Messenger did for the soldiers. And you know, it’s funny, Woody said he could do a lot of things acting, but there are two things he could never do. One is to play a soldier, and the other is to play a cop.”