Over the years, Woody Harrelson has been a natural born killer, a porn king and a white man that just can’t jump. But in Ron Mann’s new documentary “Go Further” (Abramorama Entertainment), he shows his true colors: a down-to-Mother Earth, thinking guy. “Go Further” documents Harrelson in 2001, spearheading the Simple Organic Living tour, a 1,300-mile bike ride along the Pacific Coast during which he advocates naturalistic, ecologically conscious values to anyone who will listen.
In a recent Hatchet interview, Harrelson described the genesis of this odyssey.
“My brothers and I wanted to take a long bike ride,” he said. “We were speculating on different places like the Blue Ridge Parkway. Then the idea came to just go down the coast. It was really just supposed to be a bike ride, then I thought, ‘Jesus, we’re biking. We might as well stop in parks and different places and talk about what we care about, like the environment, dieting and sustainability.’ Then we thought, ‘Well, shoot. We should have a follow-van.’ That became the mother ship, our bus, the model with the solar panel, bio-diesel and hemp fabric on the walls. We think it’s a very good model. It wasn’t supposed to be a documentary, but Ron Mann asked if we wanted him to come along and watch.”
What, then, is Harrelson’s message for America? “The thing is this: You can walk outside and be fairly aware that something is going on. You’re in warm weather right now which is probably not very seasonal. So in some ways, I guess the greenhouse effect is a good thing, keeping things warmer into the wintertime. On the other hand, I think most people have an awareness that something is going on ecologically.”
“I think the most important thing is to look in your life and see what it is that you can do not to support what I call ‘The Beast’ – all these various industries that have control over the economy, our society in general and the political apparatus. If you’re buying something from Dupont or Johnson and Johnson you’re supporting The Beast. Timber, nuclear, pesticides, petrochemicals, all these industries that get the fat subsidies and the giant tax breaks are consistently raping Mother Earth on a daily basis. What can we do to not support them? Look at your shampoo. Does it have petroleum product in it? Most do. Get something more ecologically-minded from a mom-and-pop green place. Working on yourself and what it is you’re doing has a powerful impact…everyone, in their life, is a model or a light under their friends. If you started eating vegan, your friends are gonna notice that, right? It’s starting with the small, the baby steps.”
From speaking with Harrelson, it’s clear that he is thankfully absent the messianic complex shown by Alec Baldwin and other pulpit-thumping actors. Harrelson’s prescription for America doesn’t involve taking sides, shouting slogans or moving to Canada; he just wants people to think and see what they can do to improve themselves.
“I’m just a kind of hairless Hollywood hippie trying to do my thing,” he said.
“Go Further” features appearances from Dave Matthews, Ken Kesey, the String Cheese Incident and Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The film is open now at Landmark E St. Cinema.