Woody Harrelson Has '92% Chance' of Oscars Loss
By Ben Trivett Posted Feb 26th 2010 09:35AM
Faster then a speeding bullet? We think not. 'Defendor' is the tale of an everyday Joe who, well, just got a little too angry. Arthur Poppington, played by Woody Harrelson, dives headfirst into the underworld, but quickly learns that he can't dodge bullets and real life criminals hit a lot harder than in the comics. PopEater was able to catch up with Woody recently to talk about his time as Defendor, the upcoming Oscars and his take on his intense role in 'The Messenger.' Hear what Woody had to say after the jump.
Can you tell me a little bit about your character Arthur Poppington in your new film 'Defendor'? He seems very much like an unsung hero or superhero minus the super powers.
(Laughs) That's really the best way to put it. I wish I'd heard that before, because really he's just this guy who is borderline retarded and thinks he's a superhero and goes out to fight crime, but finds out that bullets don't bounce off and he gets beat up all the time. Then he falls in love with the character played by Kat Dennings, who's a crack whore. But that's an unrequited thing. I just think that it's a wonderful film.
We're all very excited to see it. What about the villain of the film, played by Elias Koteas?
It just seems to me that if they didn't have a great actor like Elias in that role, the film wouldn't hold together. Elias is just great and plays the role of a corrupt cop who becomes the focus of my character's attempt to fight crime.
Do you think that there are any other actors who resemble each other as much as Elias and Christopher Meloni?
(Laughs) I never really thought of that; I'm not sure. I do think he's an amazing actor though. That man is 100% on set. A truly great actor.
So, along with 'Defendor,' there are several other non-traditional superhero films coming out around the same time, like 'Kick Ass' and 'Bitch Slap.' What do you think will set 'Defendor' apart from those films?
The biggest thing that is going to set them apart is that they are going to make a lot of money. (Laughs) This film isn't going to make anything. It's a terrific movie; it's just that Sony didn't get behind it. I think it's only being released in one theater. I suppose that if it found an audience, then maybe they'd get behind it.
What's your experience been like over the last year with three major features being released – '2012,' 'Zombieland' and 'The Messenger'?
Ironically, it's been almost a year since I've worked. I haven't shot anything since we finished 'Defendor' or rather since I shot 'Zombieland.' But I've been doing tons of press, which is a lot like working. Well, actually the shooting part is play, this is the work part. But it's been going great. I feel so lucky. It's one thing to say that you can't really concern yourself with money and just make as good of a movie as possible, but on the other hand, as an actor or anyone in this profession, we definitely want people to see what we do. It's very nice to have that happen.
What was it like to play the father figure or mentor to your younger co-stars -- like Jesse Eisenberg, Ben Foster and Kat Dennings?
(Laughs) Well, I don't see it as mentoring really, because I don't think I'm the kind of guy who should be mentoring anybody. They're all a little more savvy already than it's taken me 20 years to be. If I were to pass something on to them it would be something that my agent Brian Lord says to his younger agents at CAA: 'Careers are made not by how many times you say yes, but by how many times you say no.' I think in my case, I wish I'd said no a little more often. (Laughs)
One last question about 'Defendor.' What would be your all-time favorite superhero film?
That's really a tough one ... I'd have to say 'Sherlock Holmes.'
As far as the Oscars go, I was just curious about your emotions around the nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Are you excited or do you have any big plans leading up to the show?
My plans really are to just have as much fun as possible. I have to go into this whole thing looking at it like I have a 92% chance of losing, so just having as much fun as possible is the way I end up winning. It's like the advice I give to my kids, it's not about winning or losing, it's about having fun.
How does it feel being grouped in with the great performances of Christoph Waltz and the other nominees?
It's just great to get nominated beside these guys, because they are all phenomenal. All those actors are great. The big thing really is hopefully it will bring more attention and more people will go see 'The Messenger.'
Speaking of 'The Messenger,' can you tell me a little bit about what it was like to play that role? 'The Messenger' was a very tense film from start to finish, especially your role. What was it like to transform into that character?
It was a very powerful, emotional time for me when we shot that. I really came to care about the soldiers, not that I didn't care about them before, but I guess because of the fact that we were always asked to support our troops and I recognize that as the administration saying, 'Support our war,' I didn't really invest myself. So, probably the best thing about shooting this was getting to have that time with the soldiers and seeing that they are terrific people.
Do you prefer shooting something like 'The Messenger,' which is a non-traditional war/military film, over doing a more traditional combat-style film?
Most any of these films have a certain philosophy on whether they are pro-war or anti-war. The thing I liked about 'The Messenger' was that it doesn't come down as pro or anti, but it does come down as pro-soldier. And there was something very specific that I liked about that, where a combat film would be a much different thing. I'm pretty open-minded; I just thought this script was phenomenal. Alesandro (Camon) and Oren (Moverman) did a great job.
That's great. Do you have anything coming up in the future that you can tell us about?
Yeah, I have a film coming up called 'Bunraku,' which is kind a martial arts film. I'm not sure how that one turned out yet. I'm not sure if it's any good, but there were lots of great fight scenes that they did, and they were really innovative. I wasn't doing much fighting, but anyways -- I think that one will be cool too.
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