The Hanover College Board of Trustees awarded one of the College’s highest honors when it bestowed an honorary doctorate on acclaimed actor and environmental activist Woody Harrelson. The ceremony took place Saturday, March 22 in Collier Arena on Hanover’s campus.
Returning to campus more than 30 years after he first walked across the stage to earn his bachelor of arts in English, Harrelson, a member of the class of 1983, received the title doctor of humane letters in celebration of his work on stage, TV and films, and for his social justice and environmental sustainability efforts.
A gifted actor who switches back and forth effortlessly between comedy and drama, Harrelson first endeared himself to audiences with his portrayal of loveable bartender Woody Boyd for eight seasons of the classic sitcom, “Cheers.” His performance earned him five Emmy nominations and a win for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
Afterward, Harrelson moved into film and has had an impressive run in films such as “Natural Born Killers,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Zombieland” and “The Hunger Games.”
In 1996, he earned his first of two Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations with “The People vs. Larry Flynt” for his sympathetic portrayal of adult-film mogul Larry Flynt. Lauded by critics, the film boosted Harrelson to A-list actor status.
His career then took a serious turn with parts in several political films, including “Welcome to Sarajevo,” “Wag the Dog” and “The Thin Red Line.” He earned the attention of critics again in 2007 for the drama “No Country for Old Men,” for which he won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast.
In 2012, Harrelson’s role in the critically acclaimed drama “The Messenger” earned him several award nominations, including his second Golden Globe and Academy Award nods. In total, his film career has spanned nearly 60 films.
That same year, Harrelson and his friend Frankie Hyman penned the off-Broadway play, “Bullet for Adolf,” which he also directed.
For television, Harrelson has had guest spots on such shows as “Will and Grace” and the “Cheers” spinoff, “Frasier.” Earlier this year he appeared with Matthew McConaughey in the acclaimed HBO series, “True Detective.”
In addition to acting, Harrelson has been an outspoken advocate for the environment, including efforts for preserving the California redwoods, involvement in the American Oceans’ Campaign and legalization efforts for the use of industrial hemp.
He and his wife, Laura Louie, live in Hawaii and are the parents of three daughters.
Published Tuesday, April 1, 2014