Woody Harrelson Compares Cletus Kasady From Venom: Let There Be Carnage To His Natural Born Killers Character

Natural Born Killers

This sounds weird to say, but there was a time in Woody Harrelson’s career when he feared he might only be known as “the dopey guy from Cheers,” the sitcom that put him on almost every audience member’s maps. And perhaps it was this concern that prompted the actor to take a few big swings earlier in his film career, hoping to possibly distance himself as a performer from Woody Boyd. One of those choices would have been Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, where Harrelson and Juliette Lewis played the maniacal Mickey and Mallory Knox. So when Harrelson stepped back into the role of a serial killer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage, I was curious if he related the two at all.

It’s not that Venom: Let There Be Carnage is anything like Natural Born Killers. It’s not. It’s still very much a superhero movie, though one that takes its cues a little bit more from horror than mainstream fans might expect. But during the film (not a spoiler), Harrelson’s character Cletus Kasady pairs up with Naomie Harris’ Frances Barrison, and it made me think of them as a Mickey and Mallory riff, only in a comic book sense. So I posed the comparison to Harrelson when he sat down with CinemaBlend for an exclusive interview on behalf of Let There Be Carnage, he told us:

I see them as distinctive characters, but I do feel like, with any character of this nature, they’ve become deranged for a reason. And that reason usually lies in their childhood. I mean, even people less deranged, but just kind of weird socially, they’ve had a very difficult childhood. … So there’s that similarity, there’s that thing to pursue, in the character.

Without getting too deep into the backstory of Cletus Kasady, there are some tragedies in his past that certainly have turned him into the brutal serial killer that he is in Venom and its sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage. So when he’s paired with a symbiote, like the one that bonds with Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), it brings out the darkest aspects of his soul, the ones that have been soiled by misfortune. The movie doesn’t dig nearly as deep as Natural Born Killers does… and doesn’t have an axe to grind with the media. But it’s impossible to see Woody Harrelson playing a killer and not think of Stone’s vicious satire.

Woody Harrelson showed up in the end-credits scene of Venom, teasing the popular character Carnage from the Spider-Man comics. We’ll soon get to see the payoff of that scene when Cletus Kasady becomes a main character in the new sequel, opening in theaters on October 1. And if you want some Spider-Man action to go with your Venom sequels, prepare for the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home, which will be in theaters on December 17.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.