NPR did an interview with Woody Harrelson in anticipation of the release of “The Messenger”, a movie about soldiers assigned to inform designated Next of Kin that their loved ones have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
In the first part of the interview, they discuss the film and his preparation for it. In the second interview, they discuss his earlier career.
Here were a couple of highlights that stuck out for me:
And yeah, he asked me to shave my head. So, yeah, I did that. And, I mean, just
did the most – in reading a book, Tim O’Briens The Things They Carry, really helped. And, you know,
there were a lot of things, but nothing really helped as much as just spending time with the soldiers. I
felt like that really helped me humanize them in such a way that I felt like, oh, you know, they’re not
that much different from me, you know.
Harrelson describes the most important part of his preparation as the part that forged a bond of identification between him and the people he was to portray.
But certainly, I remember standing back offstage, waiting for that red light to go on and, you know, I
could hear the dialogue and I could tell I was getting closer. And then, boom, the red light goes on
and I’m entering into the bar, in front of a live audience, and obviously a show thats going to be seen
by a lot of people. So it was pretty I was nervous, I got to say. But thankfully, you know, I’d done
enough theater in college that I think it really helped me get through that.
Harrelson credits his experience acting in theater as preparing him for the high stress of making his first entrance on a popular national TV show.
Worth a listen.