Interview: Woody Harrelson of 'Seven Psychopaths'
'It is ultimately a movie about peace, promoting peace ...'
Laid-back and smiling, Woody Harrelson is the exact opposite of the snarling, bullet-headed criminal he plays in Martin McDonagh's "Seven Psychopaths," Charlie. It's Charlie's shih-tsu dog that Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken kidnap ... with dire results. Considering his early work in "Natural Born Killers," though, this is hardly the first time he's done violence to better examine it... We spoke with Harrelson on the fine line between violence and comedy, working with McDonagh and the mood on-set.
MSN Movies: You play Charlie, a mobster, gangster ...and also dedicated dog owner. Was that the joy of the part? Figuring out how to reconcile this horrible human being with a great love for his dog Bonnie ?
Woody Harrelson: Yeah. I mean, that definitely makes the character more interesting to me. Charlie's not just a cold-blooded killer; he's a real dog lover.
But he's nicer to his dog than he is to many people in the course of this film. Is that hypocrisy, or just human nature?
There are people like that.
Yes. They say Hitler was a vegetarian.
And he loved his dogs.
Yes. They say a lot of things about him…
Couple parallels here.
Other people in this cast have had the pleasure of working with Mr. McDonagh before -- Mr. Rockwell, Mr. Walken, Mr. Farrell -- but you have not. When you read this script, were you prepared for just how insane it was?
Well, I mean on the page there's quite a lot to indicate that there's some insanity, but in fact I really could've worked with Martin before. I got offered this role in "Pillowman," this play that he did on Broadway a few years back, and I really thought in reading the play that it was one example where Martin's one of those guys where the darkness and the light are just giving each other the right amount of room to laugh hysterically. And I had thought in "Pillowman" that the darkness outshone the light, and I didn't do it. Then I went and watched it with Billy Crudup, and it was phenomenal. It was one of the greatest things I have ever saw on Broadway.
I mean he's got a great sense of timing and language and he managed to bring that to film. I mean was that a concern? "Oh, this guy's a play director"? Had you seen "In Bruges"?
No, I saw "In Bruges." I know. He knew what he was doing.
How immensely satisfying is it to be in a film that is insanely violent yet also a commentary on violence in entertainment? It's certainly not new territory for you, now that I think about it.
Right. Yeah. I think it's really cool because yeah you have a lot of violent psychopaths but it is ultimately a movie about peace and promoting peace in a way. So just like his characters, you know, there's always this wild dichotomy. Nothing is just simple black and white.
Is it great to play a character who finds out the hard way that he's not as tough as he thinks he is?
(Laughs) Yeah, yeah. I really loved playing the character. Being on that set with all these great actors and this immensely talented writer director Martin, I feel really lucky.
For more from "Seven Psychopaths," here's our on-camera interview with Harrelson, Martin McDonagh, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Colin Farrell.