Woody Harrelson – or Woodrow Tracy Harrelson, if you prefer – is one of those actors who seems to have been around forever despite not being all that old (although he’s 60 at the time of writing, which might make some people feel rather old). Having broken onto the scene in the late 1980s when he portrayed bartender Woody Boyd in the hit sitcom Cheers, he’s since appeared in numerous TV shows, Hollywood movies and a handful of theatre productions. We’ll get into his acting career in a little more detail shortly, but first let’s answer the question that is undoubtedly on everyone’s lips: is Woody Harrelson vegan?
The good news, for both fellow vegans and indeed animals of the world, is that yes, Woody Harrelson is indeed vegan, and has been for around 30 years. Unlike some vegan celebs who have joined the vegan party in just the last few years, Harrelson was something of a trailblazer when it came to Hollywood stars following a plant-based diet. In fact, he apparently mainly follows a raw vegan diet and eschews most processed foods.
But his vegan credentials don’t just stop at what he puts in his body, he has also been a strong advocate for animal rights (as well as various environmental concerns) and has apparently been pivotal in encouraging some of his co-stars to embrace veganism.
Has Woody Harrelson Helped the Veganism Cause?
As with fellow actors Leonardo DiCaprio and, in particular, Joaquin Phoenix, Harrelson is not afraid to talk about his beliefs when it comes to how animals are treated by humans. As with many other high-profile vegans, Harrelson has worked with PETA to promote animal rights and, specifically, to protest against Texas Ham Rodeos (yep, they are a thing!) in which pigs are often mistreated (to put it mildly).
Harrelson has also written the foreword to The Wicked Healthy Cookbook, which is well worth checking out if you are seeking some imaginative and very tasty vegan cuisine. He’s also put his money where his vegan mouth is by investing in the vegan “seafood” brand Good Catch that produces various vegan fish and seafood alternative products.
As mentioned above, Harrelson seems rather keen on persuading others to turn towards veganism. For instance, in a joint interview promoting Solo, Harrelson’s co-star Thandiwe (formerly Thandie) Newton stated that she had been vegan “since working with Woody”. It had only been four months at the time of the interview (see clip below), but Newton suggested it “hasn’t done anything to my brain”, a quip about the erroneous suggestion that veganism shrinks people’s brains (it doesn’t!).
He also apparently encouraged Hunger Games co-star, Liam Hemsworth, to go vegan too, and apparently there are many others Harrelson has worked with who have been inspired to transition to a plant-based diet by the excellent example he sets.
Veganism Doesn’t Equal Universal Wisdom
Though we are clearly all in favour of Woody’s veganism and his stance on many issues relating to animals and the environment, we are not quite so convinced he’s on the money when it comes to some other issues. For instance, in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, Harrelson appeared to give credence to the rather nonsensical idea that 5G mobile technology has something to do with the pandemic and he even shared a report that talked about the negative effects of 5G in relation to COVID. But hey, no one’s right about everything!
Woody Harrelson’s Top 10 Greatest Films
Here we run through some of Harrelson’s movie highlights, in chronological order (rather than quality). As you will see, he has shown a fair degree of versatility over the years, though he is often at his best when blowing things (or zombies) to smithereens. Despite some big hits and a good mix of critical and box office success, he’s never quite broken through to the point at which he’s considered one of the great actors of his generation.
But he’s certainly considered very capable and has garnered plenty of fans over the years among the general public and critics alike. As with any Top 10 list, you may not agree with our selection of his best films, but it’s just a bit of fun so it’s probably not worth going to the trouble of sending us a postcard with your choices (unless you really, really want to).
1. Indecent Proposal (1993)
One of Harrelson’s early breakthrough movies, he starred alongside Demi Moore and Robert Redford. The premise of the film was that Redford’s character, John Gage, offered Moore and Harrelson’s married characters (Diana and David Murphy) a cool million dollars for Diana to spend a night with him. The couple (eventually) go for the offer, which – predictably – leads to all kinds of trouble for the couple’s relationship. Harrelson showed a tender and emotional side to his acting palette in the film.
2. Natural Born Killers (1994)
Harrelson wasn’t quite so tender in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (that was based on a story by Quentin Tarantino). Harrelson starred as Mickey Knox alongside the brilliant Juliette Lewis who played his wife Mallory. The film is about the couple’s murder spree across New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada and how the media appears to glorify their crimes. It came in for a lot of criticism at the time for what was seen as excessive violence, but Harrelson and Lewis both put in solid performances.
3. The People vs Larry Flint (1996)
Directed by the cinematic legend Miloš Forman, The People vs Larry Flint earned Harrelson a nomination for the Best Actor Oscar. In the film, he portrays the pornographer Larry Flint’s life, successes and legal battles. The performance, alongside Courtney Love and Edward Norton, was perhaps Harrelson’s most nuanced of his career and he was widely praised by critics.
4. The Thin Red Line (1998)
This World War II epic was directed by another master of cinema, Terrence Malick, and features a quite fantastic cast that includes Sean Penn, George Clooney, John Cusack, John C Reilly, John Travolta, Adrien Brody and Harrelson himself. Though Harrelson is not the main man in the film by any means, he plays a significant role and the film is just too darn good to miss off this list.
5. No Country For Old Men (2007)
Harrelson has managed to work with some great filmmakers over the years and here he worked under the stewardship of Joel and Ethan Coen for the Oscar-winning modern classic that is No Country For Old Men. Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel, the film centres around a Vietnam War veteran (played by Josh Brolin) who finds $2 million in the desert and the subsequent attempts of a hitman (brilliantly and menacingly played by Javier Bardem) to recover the cash and a sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) trying to unravel what’s going on. Harrelson plays a bounty hunter who is also trying to recover the cash in this dark and atmospheric masterpiece.
6. Zombieland (2009)
In this zombie comedy movie, Harrelson plays Tallahassee, one of a group of survivors looking to avoid becoming zombie fodder and find their way to a place of safety. Harrelson’s character is particularly fond of killing zombies but also of Twinkies… but such was Harrelson’s commitment to veganism while making the film, he requested that vegan-friendly Twinkies were made for him, a request the production team duly fulfilled.
7. 2012 (2009)
From a zombie apocalypse to a geological apocalypse, and Harrelson plays a conspiracy theorist talk-show host who gives himself a ringside seat for a massive eruption in Yellowstone National Park (spoiler alert: he gets obliterated). Though it doesn’t have the quality of some of the films mentioned above, it’s a thrilling watch and Harrelson’s performance is well-rounded.
8. The Hunger Games (2012)
The dystopian action movie series that began with The Hunger Games in 2012 has been a box office smash with teens and adults alike. Harrelson plays the tongue-twisting Haymitch Abernathy, a former Hunger Games victor who acts as a mentor (of sorts, given his alcoholism) to Katniss (played by Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (played by Josh Hutcherson) who face the prospect of trying to survive the 74th Hunger Games.
Suffice to say, the film (and indeed the series) is full of big-budget action sequences and plenty of thrills and spills. Harrelson puts in a solid performance, especially in the opening film of the series, and for those who fear we’re already living in a dystopian world, the film reminds us that it could get a whole lot worse!
9. Now You See Me (2013)
On a slightly cheerier note, Now You See Me follows a group of accomplished magicians as they use their skills to rob banks. Alongside Harrelson, the all-star cast includes Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo. The film was a box office hit, which was something of a surprise to many critics who deemed the ending to be a disappointment. But moviegoers loved it so much that a sequel was made (again featuring Harrelson), with a third film in its early stages at the time of writing.
10. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
One of the many Star Wars spinoff movies that have been made in recent years (or that’s in the pipeline) and one in which Harrelson plays a significant role as none other than Han Solo’s mentor Tobias Beckett. Apparently the character was based on Long John Silver from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and Harrelson certainly embraces the pirate vibe in his performance. Though not generally as well-received as another recent spinoff, Rogue One, fans of Star Wars were not too disappointed and it filled in various gaps with Han Solo’s back story that fans of the series loved to learn about.
Woody Harrelson & Veganism: Conclusion
It is plain to see that Woody Harrelson is not only vegan, he is an excellent advocate for veganism. As well as standing up for animal rights and investing his time or cash in vegan-friendly projects, he also appears to have a habit of persuading other high-profile figures to go vegan too. The ripple effect of convincing other Hollywood stars to go plant-based could be significant as many will have a large number of social media followers who will see them as role models and might at least investigate veganism on the back of what they say about it.