I was with Woody at our friend Michael Franti’s wedding in San Francisco last fall. I was moved by him and his wife—their warmth, laughter, and gentleness. What a freakin’ inspiration and an all-around great guy.
Interview: Maranda Pleasant
Maranda Pleasant: What’s the thing that excites you most in your life? The reason you really want to wake up in the morning and live and bring beauty to this planet?
Woody Harrelson: Well, talking to my kids more than anything. That gets me happy and excited. Everything in my life is better because of them. I don’t know if that explains getting up in the morning.
MP: What is the thing that drives you?
WH: Well, it depends. If I’m working, I want it to be as good as it can be, so I guess that’s what drives me there. I love life. I feel like I have the most incredible life. This life, it’s almost its own form of inspiration. However I came to be living this life, I feel a very high level of gratitude for this life. Something about the way it’s set up gets me jazzed to participate in it every day.
MP: What is it that makes you the most vulnerable?
WH: I’m most vulnerable with my own children and with my wife particularly. But what makes me vulnerable? I think I probably could be more vulnerable. A lot of times I feel a little bit guarded. Another person’s vulnerability makes me a little more prone to sharing things I wouldn’t share.
MP: How do you transform your pain? What do you do with it?
WH: What a trip. Well, wow, are you serious? I generally just do my best to suppress it ‘cause I don’t really feel like dealing with that kind of stuff. So I suppress it.
MP: That sounds really honest and really unhealthy. [Laughs]
WH: You’re talking about emotional pain, I’m assuming. If I’m feeling that way, I tend to sit with it. That kind of connects to the vulnerability thing. I’ve got some friends who don’t hesitate to let you know what’s going on, and they talk it through, but I tend not to. Somehow, I’ve been raised some way—probably a common way in America—where you just kind of deal with it and keep it to yourself and express it that way. But now, if something’s really heavy, I just say talk to the wifey. She helps me.
MP: [Laughs] You’re sounding like a Texan now.
WH: [Laughs] Oh yeah, maybe it’s a Texas thing.
MP: It’s a Southern thing for sure. What is it that breaks your heart?
WH: Our government’s foreign policy breaks my heart. All the giant subsidies to the giant industries that I call The Beast, all the industries that control our economy and control the body politic—that breaks my heart.
MP: How do you let go?
WH: Yoga helps more than anything. If you store something heavy emotionally in the mind, it stores as well in the body. So the reverse is true—if you’re able to release whatever it is from the body, you can release it from the mind.
MP: How long have you been practicing?
WH: A good twenty years, probably.
MP: Awesome. Do you have a particular style?
WH: Fairly eclectic, but Ashtanga-based.
MP: Are you a vegan?
WH: I’m certainly a raw foodist in my belief system. I am mostly raw, but I do allow cooked food sometimes. I used to be pretty hardcore about that, but now I let myself eat cooked food sometimes. I don’t get too uptight.
Probably 95% raw.
MP: Holy. What are some of the biggest eco concerns that you have on the planet?
WH: Probably the biggest concern for me right now is mountaintop removal. They’ve leveled over 700 mountains in West Virginia and Kentucky—the Appalachian area, the Appalachian Mountains. I think it’s really one of the most horrendous things you can imagine. If you’d seen the pictures, it’s just devastating—these once beautiful pristine natural environments are destroyed.