Woody Harrelson started getting high after two years sober because of Willie Nelson

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Woody Harrelson covers the September issue of Esquire and the cover interview confirms several things that I’ve always assumed about him. The first assumption is that he really is pretty chill, baked and relaxed in real life: confirmed. The second assumption is that he just seems to wander around, doing cool stuff and interesting work, without a real “plan”: confirmed. The third assumption was that despite claims to the contrary, Woody still gets high AF: confirmed. Allow Woody to tell the story of how he came back to weed:

“Yep, I did quit….For almost two years. No smoking, no vaping. And then I ran into this guy”—he leans over and gives Rolling Stone Willie Nelson an affectionate chuck under the chin—“and that was that. See, everybody thinks of Willie as a model of progressive thinking and virtue, and he is, but he’s also got an evil side. Eee-vil. Now, Willie never felt too good about me quitting. And he kept trying to get me to not quit. We’d be playing poker and he’d pass me a vape pen, and I’d say, ‘Willie, man, I don’t do that anymore.’ And he’d act surprised, like it was news to him—every time, just as surprised as he could be. Then we were in Maui, and you know the whole reason I’m in Maui in the first place is Willie. Yeah, I went and saw one of his shows a number of years ago. I wanted to meet him. So afterward, I went to his bus and knocked on the door, and the door opened, and smoke was billowing out, and I look through the haze and I see this fellow with long hair holding a big old fatty, and he says, ‘Let’s burn one.’ And I know right away that he’s going to be a friend for life. He told me he had a place in Maui and to come on out, and that’s how I just sort of ended up there. Anyway, Willie passed me the pen after I’d won this huge pot. I was in a celebrating mood, so I snatched the pen from him and took a long draw. And Willie smiled at me and said, ‘Welcome home, son.’ ”

[From Esquire]

That’s a good story. I wish I had a “so now I’m smoking pot again” story which involved playing poker with Willie Nelson. But here’s the thing: I had literally no idea about any of this stuff about Woody’s father:

E. Howard Hunt was the ex–CIA agent who joined Nixon’s White House and then bungled the Watergate break-in. He was also rumored to have been the man behind JFK’s assassination. Several conspiracy theorists are convinced that he was the oldest of the three “tramps,” i.e., the trio of men arrested for vagrancy near the railroad tracks by the Texas School Book Depository on November 22, 1963. Those same conspiracy theorists are convinced that the tallest tramp was Charles Harrelson, Woody’s dad, a professional hitman and organized-crime figure who died in prison while serving a pair of consecutive life sentences for shooting a federal judge and who, during a subsequent standoff with police, jacked on cocaine and holding a gun on himself, confessed to murdering Kennedy.

[From Esquire]

Did you know that Woody’s father was a hitman who may or may not have had something to do with the JFK assassination?? I feel like that should be one of the first lines of every Woody Harrelson profile.

Anyway the rest of the profile is interesting too – Woody went to college, briefly, at Hanover in Indiana, at the same time as Mike Pence. Woody says that at the time, Pence “struck me as a nice guy, very sincere. I don’t know how well we’d get along now, but we got along okay then.” Woody also has a long-ass Donald Trump story about the time he had dinner with Trump, Melania, and Jesse Ventura and basically Trump wouldn’t STFU. Woody also says that he was offered – and turned down – the Tom Cruise role in Jerry Maguire – “I was offered—what’s the ‘Show me the money’ movie? Jerry Maguire? I was offered Jerry Maguire, and I said to Jim, ‘Nobody is going to give a s–t about an agent’.” All in all, I enjoyed this read. And I really didn’t know that about Woody’s dad.

Photo and cover courtesy of Esquire.

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19 Responses to “Woody Harrelson started getting high after two years sober because of Willie Nelson”

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  1. Ye says:

    Its pretty well known that Woodys dad was a hitman, but also that Woody hates being asked about it. Which makes me feel like it is rude of the magazine to put that into the interview. They didnt ask him about it, so they must know he hates it being out there

    • Chaine says:

      ITA. It’s not his fault his parent was a criminal who went to jail for life way back when Woody was a minor.

  2. Kate says:

    I think it shouldn’t be one of the first lines of his profiles (or potentially any lines unless actually relevant) because….he isn’t his father?

  3. ItReallyIsYou,NotMe says:

    Oh, isn’t it funny that Willie Nelson peer-pressured his friend into using again after he had been clean for 2 years!!!! I have a family member who has fallen off the wagon twice after being egged on socializing with old friends so I don’t think it’s funny at all. People might think it’s funny because it’s just mj, but there’s a reason Woody thought he needed to quit to begin with.

    • Yennefer of Vengerburger & fries says:

      Yeah. I don’t find it adorable. I think weed’s the lesser of two evils compared to alcohol, and I’m not denying the huge medical benefits for those who need those benefits.

      But jfc, a stoner zombie isn’t a pretty sight. It impairs you, it messes with your memory. I’ve watched people I knew to be sharp and on the go become mellow but unambitious individuals who stopped caring about anything but being able to light up again, it’s become a mental crutch for them, and their memory is shot to shit. Got other, older friends who say that even though they’ve not lit up in a decade, heavy pot smoking’s permanently messed with their memory.
      I don’t really care if people choose to do drugs or drink, god knows I’ve got addictive vices of my own. But there’s nothing cute about trying to get someone who’s quit to use again, even if said person’s receptive and ready to start again.

    • Chaine says:

      Yeah, I kind of lost my respect for Willie Nelson. Now he sounds like that 45-yr-old former frat boy that gets hammered and embarrassing at a college reunion cookout and then whines that no one else wants to “have fun” anymore just because we are adults who have long outgrown binge drinking.

    • MeghanNotMarkle says:

      I agree with you completely here. It’s not funny. Addiction is not funny.

    • ks says:


    • Carol says:

      100% agree. Not cute, funny or adorable.

    • Ariela says:

      I know what they say about weed not being addictive, but remember, you can be addicted to gambling. Me, I was addicted to weed. I quit four years ago. My life used to revolve around it: If I saw a picture of a beautiful place, my first thought was “that looks like a lovely place to smoke a spliff”. I became lazy and lost my ambition. All I wanted to do was go home and smoke. And when I quit, I had withdrawal symptoms: anxiety, nausea, lack of appetite. So yes, I don’t appreciate this story. I am so happy to be clean after what I call my ten lost years.

  4. ooshpick says:

    I don’t love that story about Willie Nelson. Maybe I don’t understand pot but if someone kept offering an alcoholic a drink and being surprised that he wouldn’t take it, he’d be called an enabler. I had a staff member who I had to fire and help get into rehab because his pot habit was negatively impacting his life. He was working on machinery stoned and couldn’t turn his life around. He was in debt to his habit. Maybe some people don’t think of pot as a problem? I am not saying it is but that there was a reason he quit and that should be respected.

    • lucy2 says:

      That bothers me too. If someone says “no thank you” , respect that and don’t keep pushing.

  5. Penn says:

    This isn’t funny or endearing. Woody is an adult who can make his own choices, but if someone says they’re sober so no thanks to your offer, it’s not sweet or charming to pester them to parttake. If this was literally any other addict and the enabler wasn’t a celebrity, this would be a terrible story about a horrid person helping someone relapse. Not cool.

  6. N says:

    I smoke and would never push that on anyone around me. Addiction is a disease. It doesn’t matter if it’s cigarettes or shopping.

  7. Ali says:

    Agree, the: here you know you want to, story isn’t cute. Being around even functioning addicts isn’t fun after a while especially because they so rarely want to admit they have a problem. Pushing drugs on other people = problem.

    Also, I know there are diehard vapers on here, and to each their own as an adult, but it’s not some miracle way to smoke and not get addicted or damage your body.

  8. Jb says:

    I knew about his father because my husbands friend also went to Hanover and it was well known on campus. And the friend was embarrassed to acknowledge Pence was a fellow alumni.

  9. FilmTurtle says:

    Yeah, I’m not charmed by this story, either. I’m as progressive as they come and I am already OVER walking through clouds of marijuana smoke (and vape plumes) everywhere I go in Los Angeles. Every other Uber/Lyft driver reeks of it. Just what we need when Washington D.C. is going down in flames: millions of pot zombies. /endrant

  10. Chelsea K. says:

    Woody Harrelson smoked weed again because he wanted to smoke weed again. It is inconsiderate that Willie Nelson pressured his friend rather than support his decision. However, unless Nelson strapped Harrelson down and forced weed into his lungs, the only person responsible for Harrelson’s sobriety is Harrelson himself.

  11. usedtobe says:

    Whatever man. Lol, no shade to Willie, Woody is gonna do what Woody is gonna do and if he was gonna smoke, he was gonna smoke. Willie thinks nothing bad about weed so probably doesn’t think it’s even an addiction. If it wasn’t Willie getting Woody high, it would’ve been someone else.
    Love Woody though, he’s just so chill.