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Woody Harrelson at festival for documentary on eco-journey

Posted on January 30, 2004

Woody Harrelson finally got to be himself.

The 42-year-old actor has run the gamut of roles since his teens, from serial killer to pornography mogul to drag queen.

It wasn’t until the comedic documentary Go Further last year that Woody Harrelson had a chance to reveal his core.

In 2001, documentary filmmaker Ron Mann followed Harrelson from Seattle to Los Angeles on his monthlong Simple Organic Living Tour. The cycling excursion carried Harrelson’s message about progressive politics, economic growth and eco-friendly living to college campuses.

On a solar-paneled Chicago transit bus fueled by hemp oil, Mann and his crew followed, shooting footage of what the filmmaker has called an “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test on Tofu.”

“I see a lot of different things written that wouldn’t be a fair representation of how I think or feel, but this is it,” Harrelson said in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “I think Ron just did an amazing job with this film — it has a lot of heart and a great message.”

On Saturday, Harrelson is flying to Sarasota, where he shot the movie Palmetto in 1998. Go Further will be shown as part of the Sarasota Film Festival today at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at 9:45 p.m. at Hollywood 20 on Main Street.

Harrelson has taken heat for his devotion tocauses. In 1996, he was arrested on charges of harvesting hemp seeds in Kentucky to challenge state laws restricting use of the plant and to show it can be used a fuel and paper alternative. He was later acquitted.

He has lobbied for animal rights and to save Headwaters Forest, the country’s last unprotected growth of redwoods.

“I just want to keep going around and telling people about these things,” he said. “Looking at what’s going on in the world — the nuclear, timber, the petroleum industries — we’re seeing these things are not sustainable. What we need is a progressive leader.”

The Emmy Award-winning Harrelson, who grew up in Ohio, gained exposure on Cheers as Woody the bartender. He’s also known for his roles in Natural Born Killers (1994) and The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996).

But secretly, Harrelson doesn’t like being filmed.

“I hate cameras around,” he said with a laugh. “I generally shun the camera.”

The laid-back actor, once vegan, has recently gone “raw” — meaning he doesn’t eat any cooked food. He lives in Hawaii with his former assistant, Laura Louie, and their two daughters.

Copyright © 2004, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. All rights reserved.