When I interviewed Woody Harrelson, this great democracy had not yet re-elected it’s 43rd president nor had the first man who put a computer in a pair of shoes been honored by Time magazine, nor had two magnificent fall holidays passed us by.
The air was still warm and, though pensive about his future and the future of his fellow U.S. residents, Woody spoke to me not about his time with "Cheers" or the real scoops behind his new rock star of a film "After the Sunset," not of his house in Maui and what’s growing out back, nor the stunt with the hemp seeds in my home state of Kentucky. Woody Outside of PSU’s Smith Center, Harrelson sat quietly, contemplating where the closest juice bar was, and planning a better future for himself and the rest of us.
Even after "Cheers" aired its final episode, the show’s finest characters (who would probably prefer that people stop referring to them as that) are still making an important impact on the world today.
"It was Ted Danson who really gave me a push to get started doing activism," Harrelson said. So Danson is the man that gets credit for jump-starting one of the most prevalent personalities in environmental consciousness, Woody Harrelson.
Eric Macey: You’ve been involved actively for some time, promoting a sustainable way of living that leaves little impact on the earth. What is your advice for a city such as Portland? What would you have us do?
Woody Harrelson: The place you hope you would start is a place where the politicians care more about the people then their own self interests, but I’m not sure you can count on that. I think a good place to start is to look at the way we fuel ourselves, our bodies, as well as looking at the macro, which is the way we fuel our cars and everything else we’ve created. It’s really all about the fuel. We fight wars for it when there are hundreds of other ways rather than fossil fuels, which is lethal shit.
E.M: Tell me how easy it is to convert a bus to run on bio-diesel or hemp seed oil.
W.H: Well it couldn’t be easier because the diesel engine built by Rudolf Diesel was originally made to run on vegetable oil. I have an old Volkswagen with a diesel engine and I run it on bio-diesel and didn’t have to make any adjustments to the engine at all. It’s very, very simple to accomplish.
E.M: That’s interesting. What do you think of Schwarzenegger as governor?
W.H: I haven’t been following that much on how he’s been doing. There are some things I actually like about him. He has a lot of charisma, I mean a lot of charisma, and he’s kind of a prankster. I would rather have a guy like that in there than someone who’s pretending to be progressive.
E.M: Do you foresee, or have any thoughts about, your desire and draw towards activism taking over your acting career?
W.H: Actually I’m acting more now than I am having the time to do the activism. But you know, I feel a sort of responsibility for the state of the world, and my own footprint, I want it to be as light as possible. In terms of my own personal thing, I’ll talk to as many people as I can about it because I care about my mother (Earth), and I care about her being raped on a daily basis by multinational corporations that aren’t humans, because all they think about is money. They are more like calculators.
E.M: Are you forced to separate acting and activism very much?
W.H: Well, yeah. The other movie that was coming out the same day as "Go Further," was "After the Sunset," with Salma Hayek and Pierce Brosnan. It’s a heist movie that’s fun and really a great ride, but there’s no real message in it.
E.M: Do your values cause you to have moral problems with the way that large Hollywood productions like that operate?
W.H: I’ve been working with this producer friend of mine on a plan to try to get "greening of the set" guidelines in place. There are obvious things you can always do to help, like making recycling readily available, but you’re right. Generally, sets are extremely wasteful and take up a lot of energy.
E.M: In your film, "Go Further," you state that the one big change everyone should make is dietary.
W.H: That statement is about evolution. You need to look at the fuel you put into your own body, because, these days, personal needs lead to planetary transformation. I really do believe that. Ultimately, it’s a revolution of the heart, and I need my heart to be as loving as it was when I was a kid, and open like that. This is all just a love revolution. That’s what it is. Because you can’t win a revolution any other way.
You can contact Woody Harrelson and his wife, Laura Louie, through their web site, www.voiceyourself.com, which connects people to sustainable living and organic products.