Anti-authority role was no struggle for bad boy Woody Harrelson
Woody Harrelson does not shy away from tough roles.
Among other leads, the 50 year-old actor has played a seedy magazine magnet in ‘The People versus Larry Flint’, a conflicted serviceman in director Oren Moverman’s ‘The Messenger’ and a psychotic killer in Oliver Stone’s ultra-violent masterpiece ‘Natural Born Killers’.
In ‘Rampart’ Harrelson is back working with Moverman and plays a veteran Los Angeles cop called Dave Brown - a renegade who sees it as his role to do “the people’s dirty work” - asserting his own code of justice.
As one of Hollywood’s go-to-guys for quirky characters and often seen as a bit of a bad boy, Harrelson readily admits that he is not a fan of authority.
“I’m definitely anti-authority,” says the actor.
He grew very close to the long arm of the law though when riding along with LA’s finest in preparation for his role. Harrelson said: “I spent a lot of time on ride-alongs with these cops in LA, agents Bob and Jerry - but they call Bob “Boston” ‘cause he’s from Boston and he has this great accent. That helped really more than anything ‘cause I was having trouble believing that I could be a cop. I just couldn’t see it, so it helped to spend time with those guys and find the humanity in them.”
Harrelson had to tread carefully because ‘Rampart’ revisits a dark time for the LA Police Department - the Rampart Scandal, one of the most widely cases of documented of police misconduct in US history.
“I was told we would be going by the name ‘End Of Watch’ and I was not supposed to say anything about ‘Rampart’,” he says. After a few ride-alongs though he let the film’s real title slip.
“It was kind of weird for a minute but then these guys are really cool and they were just totally cool with it. I told them it’s not a historical account of Rampart.”
Not all of Harrelson’s research for the role was as tense - as a non-smoker he sought advice from another top actor on how to look like an authentic smoker.
He said: “I got a tutorial from Jack Nicholson which helped me. He showed me about holding the cigarette and tapping of the pack, several little things that I needed to try to absorb.”