Woody Harrelson and I don’t discuss “Now You See Me 2.” This is odd, since it's why we’ve been thrown into the same room. Actors spend entire junkets fielding the same questions about the same movies, and Harrelson seems like the type who wouldn’t mind just chit-chatting.
That’s how I came to sit in front of Harrelson as he sings (and snaps) a bit of “My Shot” from “Hamilton.” The acclaimed actor — who, it should be noted, reprises his role as one of the four trickster magicians in the sequel to the surprise 2013 hit — is a big fan of the musical. He’s extra happy his young daughter is into it, too, since that means she’s nerding out over history as well as theater. As the conversation drifts from a dynamite show to the grimness of the presidential race, Harrelson lays back on the couch he’s sitting on, as though this was therapy.
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I’ve not seen “Hamilton,” even though I live in New York. I think only non-locals have seen it.
Every day I wake up with one of the songs in my head. It’s crazy. They’re very infectious songs. It’s an unusual Broadway score. It’s so new and yet it also has the flavor of that old traditional Broadway, some of it. It’s great, it’s just great.
And it’s turning our nation’s children into people who think Broadway is cool.
My 9-year-old was really reticent about it. She didn’t want to go the theater. She thought it’d be boring. We had to talk her into going to see “Hamilton.” [Laughs] Well, she doesn’t need urging anymore!
It will also make them political buffs. We worry kids will be apathetic, but if they’re exposed to something like “Hamilton” at a young age, they’ll be more likely to care about who’s the president and want to make things better.
Well, I can see why people think there’s not going to be any change coming from the political world now. I don’t see change in politics. Bernie has been an infusion of some change. I guess Trump’s been a big change. I mean, what people would elect a billionaire? On the other hand, Ross Perot was the same thing. Ross Perot was an infusion, I thought, of some really cool, new energy. So I guess I can’t say that just because you’re a billionaire you shouldn’t be in there.
I remember Perot as being more on the Republican side, though.
I would think in many ways he was more liberal than Clinton. Maybe he was fiscally conservative, but he was talking about a lot of things that sounded very progressive.
Trump has had some progressive-ish ideas in the past, but he’s falling more in line with the party at this point.
I was once at a dinner with him, me, his future wife and Jesse Ventura. He was trying to convince Jesse to run with him on the Democratic ticket, back in 2002.
How on earth did you wind up at that dinner?
Jesse Ventura invited me. He said, “Come be my date to this thing.” He told me what the plan was ahead of time. I knew Trump was going to try and convince him. Jesse Ventura wasn’t having it. Fascinating dinner, I will say that. I heard some interesting things.
How was Trump back then?
Pretty much the same. He talks about himself. He talks about his money. The most insightful thing he said was he was worth $5 billion, and when he died his children would fight over it.
That makes him sound like King Lear.
I wouldn’t give him Lear.
I can’t tell if we’re supposed to still think his campaign is a joke or if he’ll really become president. There are a lot of people out there that are angry enough to vote for him.
I don’t think he’ll become president. But I didn’t think he’d become the nominee. It’s like, “Let’s embrace the racist.” Kind of a weird philosophy, embracing racism. That’s what’s going on in his campaign. Hey, if you’re a racist, you’ve got a real rallying point there.
A lot of people have deep-seated racial fears, in part because they’re anxious that white people will no longer be the center of the universe.
The white people are still very much firmly in control of the body politic, the big industries. It’s a bunch of old white f—ing dinosaurs. It’s not like I’m a self-hating white man.
Some people I know — or am related to — are going to vote for him. I don’t know how to broach the subject without ostracizing them.
Well, look, they’re probably terrific people. They’re interested in this guy who’s talking differently than other politicians. I’ve seen that with other people I respect and like. It’s like, “OK, I have to understand how this happens.”
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge