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Two Major Roles Woody Harrelson Turned Down Before Changing His Mind

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch

Casting major blockbusters is no easy feat. There are lengthy contracts and logistics to deal with, as well as the task of wooing the actors you want to join the project. The latter can sometimes be the most difficult, as most actors are very particular about which films they take on, and must be cognizant of being type cast. This is apparently the case with Woody Harrelson, who originally turned down his iconic roles in both The Hunger Games franchise and the untitled Han Solo standalone film.

Woody Harrelson recently did a long interview with THR about his career, and various acting projects past and present. It's in this conversation that he reveals how certain producers have had to strong arm him into doing major blockbusters, and how he's thoroughly happy they did. He said,

I turned down Hunger Games twice. I didn't have any idea it would be that big, but I didn't think it was a good part. I was wrong. It was a terrific part, and it was a terrific thing, but thank God [director] Gary Ross called me. And [executive] Alli Shearmur, too. I turned [the Han Solo movie] down twice, too, and the same person, Alli, wouldn't take no for an answer.

Looks like we need to send Alli Shearmur a muffin basket, because The Hunger Games franchise just wouldn't have been the same without Woody Harrelson's chronically buzzed Haymitch Abernathy. And while his role in the Han Solo movie is still a mystery, he's got the perfect sense of cockiness and bravado that will likely lend itself well as Solo's mentor.

It's a bit surprising that Woody Harrelson would have to be convinced to do these high profile projects, especially considering how beloved the characters are. Given the iconography of both The Hunger Games and Star Wars, the films were basically guaranteed to be a financial success.

The role of Haymitch is perhaps the fourth largest character in the entire Hunger Games franchise, after the three leads involved in the love triangle. And although Woody Harrelson likely isn't a big fan of young adult novels, one would assume that Haymitch's appeal was on the page of the first film's script. While originally appearing to be just a drunken a-hole, Haymitch soon proves himself as the most capable mentor in The Games. And while some of the other supporting characters were killed off in the process of the following three films, Haymitch's part just became more important.

Regardless, I'm glad that Woody Harrelson was convinced to do both projects. While details regarding the still untitled Han Solo standalone film are few and far between, I'm eager to see the actor step into a galaxy far, far away- especially in such an impressive cast.

You can catch Woody Harrelson in War for the Planet of the Apes on July 14th, 2017. In the meantime, check out our summer premiere list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.