Woody Harrelson can be forgiven for being a little bit different. After all, this Midland, Texas, native is the son of a contract killer1 who once murdered a federal judge2. Fortunately, Harrelson was removed from his father’s criminal influence3 in 1964 when his parents divorced4 and his mother moved Woody and his two brothers to the sleepy town of Lebanon, Ohio. It was there that Harrelson first discovered a passion for drama and he starred in numerous high school plays before graduating from Indiana’s Hanover College in 1983 with a degree in English and theater arts.
Woody Harrelson wasted little time in abandoning Indiana for the bright lights of New York City, where he auditioned5 feverishly6 and briefly worked as an understudy7 in a Broadway production of Biloxi Blues. His hard work paid off8 in 1985, when he was cast as bumbling9 bartender10 Woody Boyd in Cheers11. The role transformed him into an overnight12 sensation and he was nominated for a pair of Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in 1987 and 1988 before finally winning the honor in 1989.
Harrelson cashed in13 on his new-found notoriety14 in 1991 with roles in the big screen comedies Doc Hollywood and Ted & Venus. He then graduated to leading man15 the following year when he starred in White Men Can’t Jump, a comedy about a pair of interracial16 basketball hustlers17. The film grossed18 a respectable19 $90 million at the box office and earned Harrelson and his costar, Wesley Snipes, a pair of nominations from the MTV Movie Awards.
By the time Cheers filmed its final episode in 1993, Harrelson had been nominated for two more Emmy Awards and was well on his way to becoming a major box office draw.
Woody Harrelson picked up right where he left off in 1994 with starring roles in three films including I’ll Do Anything, The Cowboy Way and Natural Born Killers. Although the first two films received little attention, Natural Born Killers became an international phenomenon20, thanks to its use of gratuitous21 violence and its biting22 condemnation23 of mass media. Harrelson returned to more standard fare24 over the next two years in the entertaining buddy25 comedies Money Train (1995) and Kingpin (1996) before breaking the mold26 yet again in 1996 as the titular porn magnate in The People vs. Larry Flynt. The provocative film was a huge hit with critics and earned Harrelson his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Woody Harrelson rounded out the decade with performances in a dizzying27 array of films. He played an emotionally disturbed28 military prisoner in Wag the Dog (1997), an unlucky ex-con29 in Palmetto (1998), a battle-hardened30 sergeant in The Thin Red Line (1998), an opportunistic31 screw-up in Edtv (1999) and an aging boxer in Play it to the Bone (1999). He also picked up his sixth Emmy Award nomination in 1999 after reuniting32 with his Cheers cast mate Kelsey Grammer for a hilarious episode of Frasier. In fact, Harrelson enjoyed his brief return to the small screen so much that he signed on to play Debra Messing’s boyfriend, Nathan, in seven episodes of Will and Grace in 2001.
Woody Harrelson returned to the silver screen in 2003 with a supporting role in Anger Management opposite Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson. The outrageous comedy grossed over $195 million at the box office and led to subsequent supporting roles in 2005 in the award-winning dramas North Country starring Charlize Theron and The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio featuring Julianne Moore.
Woody Harrelson has continued to show off his versatility in recent years by playing a lasso-swinging cowboy in A Prairie Home Companion (2006), an ambitionless33 junkie34 in A Scanner Darkly (2006), a prim male escort in The Walker (2007), a washed-up35 basketball player in Semi-Pro (2008), a blind piano player in Seven Pounds (2008), a hunter in No Country for Old Men (2007), and an enthusiastic slayer36 of the undead37 in the surprise hit Zombieland (2009).
As impressive as those roles were, many pundits38 believe Harrelson turned in his best performance to date in The Messenger, a shrewdly perceptive39 film about a pair of American soldiers assigned to the Army’s Casualty Notification service. Hailed by The New Yorker as “a fully felt, morally alert, marvelously40 acted piece of work,” The Messenger has earned Harrelson nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role from the Academy Awards, The Golden Globes, The Independent Spirit Awards, the Satellite Awards, and The National Board of Review.
Harrelson is currently working on two new films including the drama Bunraku starring Josh Hartnett, and the fantasy flick The Other Side, featuring Jason Lee. Rumor has it he has also signed on to star in a sequel to Zombieland. The eagerly anticipated41 film is currently in development.
1 contract killer – наемный убийца
2 federal judge – федеральный судья
3 influence - влияние
4 divorce - развод
5 audition – прослушивание кандидатов на роль
6 feverishly – лихорадочно, возбужденно
7 understudy – дублер актера
8 pay off – рассчитываться, давать результат
9 bumbling – неуклюжий, неповоротливый
10 bartender - бармен
11 cheers - аплодисменты
12 overnight – внезапный, мгновенный
13 cash in – воспользоваться чем-либо
14 notoriety - общеизвестность
15 leadingman – исполнитель главной муж. роли
16 interracial - межрасовые
17 hustler – энергичный, предприимчивый человек
18 gross – кассовые сборы
19 respectable – внушительный, приличный
20 phenomenon - феномен
21 gratuitous – ничем не мотивированный
22 biting – резкий, язвительный
23 condemnation – осуждение, порицание
24 fare - режим
25 buddy - дружелюбные
26 breaking the mold – разрушение стереотипов, общепризнанных норм
27 dizzying – большое количество
28 emotionally disturbed – эмоционально неуравновешенный
29 ex-con – бывший заключенный
30 battle-hardened – закаленный в боях
31 opportunistic – беспринципный, меркантильный
32 reuniting – воссоединение
33 ambitionless - нечестолюбивый
34 junkie - наркоман
35 washed-up – никому не нужный
36 slayer - убийца
37 undead – восставший их мертвых
38 pundit – ученый, мудрец
39 shrewdly perceptive – дальновидный, проницательный
40 marvelously – великолепный, превосходный
41 eagerly anticipated – весьма ожидаемый
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