If you own a TV or have seen a movie, then you know who Woody Harrelson is. It's hard not to know the ubiquitous tough guy who was the drunken mentor to the Mocking Jay in the Hunger Games franchise, and the drunken Twinkie hunting mentor to several zombie-killing young people in Zombieland. Naturally, if you've been around a while like we have, then you'll remember a time when he was busy being a modern Clyde with his Bonnie in Natural Born Killers, or even a jovial patron at a little bar called Cheers. There's been a lot of liquor and even more murder in his filmography, but in real life, Woody is a laid back, mostly sober, introspective person. Did he make his millions just from being in the spotlight? Here's how Woody Harrelson achieved a net worth of $65 Million.
Everyone Starts Somewhere
Woody Harrelson didn't have it easy growing up. He and his two brothers Brett and Jordan, were raised by their mother. Their religion (Presbyterian) was a big part of their life. Sadly their father wasn't. In 1978, when he was about seventeen, Woody got his first role on screen. He played an uncredited extra in Harper Valley P.T.A.
Then in 1979, when Woody was around eighteen, his father Charles was sentenced to life in prison for killing a federal judge. Regardless of his absent father's choices and consequences thereof, he graduated high school. That same year Harrelson spent the summer working at Kings Island Amusement Park and moved on to attend Hanover College in Indiana, where he met the future Vice President Mike Pence. For a while, he considered becoming a member of the clergy, but instead, Woody ended up pledging Sigma Chi and getting his BA in English and Theater.
Paths Not Taken
There was a time when Woody even considered becoming a police officer. Although he's played one more than once, Harrelson admits he wouldn't have been the right choice for that role in the real world. His only significant off-screen legal experience has been three or four legal run-ins where he was on the other side of the handcuffs.
Things certainly would have been very different if Woody had gone down another path. We can't imagine who would have filled the void where his incredible filmography is now. We never wish anyone ill, but it's hard to avoid noticing that many of the most incredible actors, and other artists, come from a difficult background. Something about having to fight for what you have, or against what you once were limited by makes for incredible and very driven talents.
The year was 1985, and the episode was Birth, Death, Love, and Rice. Although Cheers had been on for three years already, it wasn't until September of '85 that Woody joined the cast as ... Woody. Sam goes to get Diane from the convent, where Frasier told him she was after fleeing her own wedding. Meanwhile, Coach, the original bartender, gets a replacement, and Harrelson's career gets its true beginning.
Cheers helped shape more than one generation of TV watching, and Woody was a big part of that from 1985 until the show finally aired its last episode, One For The Road, in 1993. Of course, even while he was bartending the infamous Cheers, Woody was also doing plenty of work on the side as it were.
From Wildcats (1986) to Killer instinct (1988), all the way through White Men Can't Jump (1992) and Indecent Proposal (1993), two things are certain. First, Woody is sickeningly talented and fun to watch. Second and just as vital, that laid back, grounded, real-world attitude is a front for a serious workaholic. There aren't many actors who can claim over a hundred credits to their name.
Acting isn't all Woody does with his time. He's been incredibly active in advocating for numerous causes he considers essential. Harrelson has served on NORML's board since 2003 for one thing and works for drug policy reform. He also works for UNICEF and environmental causes. Moreover, Woody has been outspoken on the issue of politics, especially in recent years.
Harrelson has met more than the Vice President. He went to supper with Donald and the future FLOTUS before they were married. The description he gave was colorful, describing the experience as 'brutal.' He says he had to 'escape' and smoke a joint to make it through the experience. Moreover, he was blown away by how egotistical the future president is.
Beyond his advocacy and politics, Woody also co-owns a company that's geared toward helping reduce the environmental impact the paper industry has on trees. Along with business partner Jeff Golfman, he creates tree-friendly paper that only uses about 20% wood.
Their low impact paper is sold at Staples and saves a whole tree for every two boxes purchased. The company significantly reduces the carbon footprint of using paper. Prairie Pulp and Paper company uses straw instead of wood pulp to create a more sustainable paper.
Given the environmental issues in the world today, opening any business that helps reduce carbon emissions, and deforestation is likely to make you a fair bit of money, even if you're not a Hollywood star. Doubtless, a chunk of his income is from Prarie Pulp. Additionally, his estate in Maui, (next door to Willie Nelson) is part of Harrelson's overall net worth.
Most of Woody's money obviously comes from his work in over a hundred films and shows over the last several decades. Net worth includes business investments and property, among other things, like stocks and bonds. Though we're not sure if Harrelson has any of the latter, it wouldn't surprise us. Regardless, he worked hard for every penny, and we can certainly admire that. Better still, we can binge-watch his shows and movies. Which role was your all-time favorite Woody Harrelson part? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee