Academy Award-nominated actor Woody Harrelson
(“People vs. Larry Flynt”) plays non-conformist men in back-to-back post-apocalyptic films. In Roland Emmerich’s epic “2012
,” he plays a radio talk show host who warns of the impending end of the world, while in the action comedy “Zombieland
,” he’s the zombie-slaying badass whose single determination is to get the last Twinkie on earth.
Why does he think audiences are drawn to such tales of impending doom? “I think it’s probably some ingrained thing where we feel like we’re in those times,” he says. “Certainly a case could be made that ecologically things are pretty extreme.”
For Harrelson, the chance to play these characters was an opportunity too good to miss. “I read the script and I just thought to myself, ‘if they can pull this off it will be the most amazing movie,’” the actor says of “2012.”
Indeed, the first time Harrelson saw a finished version of “2012” he was awed. “I was completely shocked, but in a good way. Man, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing up there on the screen. It’s incredible.”
“2012” is set in the very near future when seismic shifts in the planet’s tectonic plates cause earthquakes and floods and threaten mankind’s very existence. “I had no idea it would turn out as good as it has. The effects were incredible, better than I could have imagined. Roland is a genius with that stuff,” says Harrelson.
In the film, his character, Charlie Frost, is derided as an eccentric because he tells his listeners that the ancient Mayan Prophecies, which predicted that the world would face a cataclysmic upheaval in 2012, when the 13th cycle of Mayan calendar ends, are about to come true.
“Yes, my guy tries to warn everyone but no one takes any notice and they kind of regard him as a bit of a crank,” he says. “And I think that’s probably what would happen if you had someone telling you something you don’t want to hear, people would ignore you. But they sure find out that he was telling the truth.”
Harrelson is a committed environmentalist who has warned for years that our planet is facing ecological disaster – a theme that Emmerich tackled in an earlier film, “The Day After Tomorrow,” and is part of the subtext of “2012,” too.
“I have been talking about a lot of things, a lot of which I’ve been proven right on the money,” he says. “But it doesn’t really give me much satisfaction to say, ‘I told you so.’ And my friends, a lot of them tolerate me, but you can feel their eyes roll back when I get in my soapbox and start a diatribe.”
Both distributed by Columbia Pictures, “2012” opened across the Philippines November 13, while “Zombieland” follows on January 2010. Columbia Pictures is the local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.