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Woody Harrelson’s 9 Best Movie Roles

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games"
Lionsgate

For over 25 years, Woody Harrelson has entertained us with a wide array of characters ranging from psychopaths to lovable losers. This year alone we've seen him in two very different parts: a wickedly corrupt L.A. cop in "Rampart" and a Republican party strategist in "Game Change." His latest role -- sure to be one of his more colorful -- is Haymitch Abernathy, the drunken mentor of Katniss in "The Hunger Games."

To celebrate his versatility, we look back at Harrelson’s nine best performances in what has become an impressive career.

9. 'A Scanner Darkly' (2006)

A Scanner Darkly
Warner Independent

"The Hunger Games" isn’t the first time Harrelson has worked with existing material. In Richard Linklater’s adaptation of the classic Philip K. Dick sci-fi thriller, Harrelson plays Ernie Luckman, the mellow yet extremely paranoid member of a group of drug addicts that have an undercover cop in their midst. Starring opposite Robert Downey Jr., Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, a laid-back Harrelson blends in perfectly with the ensemble. Watch here.

8. 'Indecent Proposal' (1993)

Indecent Proposal
Paramount

He honed his comedic chops on TV (spending eight years on "Cheers") and supporting roles in movies, but Harrelson got his first taste of dramatic work when he costarred opposite Demi Moore and Robert Redford in this sexually charged drama from the director of "Fatal Attraction," Adrian Lyne. Harrelson plays a husband who, while dealing with financial hardship, agrees to let a sly billionaire (Redford) spend the night with his wife (Moore) for a million dollars, then mentally falls apart afterwards. Watch here.

7. 'Zombieland' (2009)

Woody Harrelson in Zombieland
Columbia Pictures

After years of doing small indies or taking bit parts in larger movies, Harrelson finally signed on for a legitimate lead role. And seriously, could anyone else have starred as Tallahassee? In this zombie-infested post-apocalyptic comedy he plays the trigger-happy good ol' boy to perfection. And it takes talent when you’re a devout vegan but can believably play someone who craves Twinkies. Watch here.

6. 'No Country for Old Men' (2007)

No Country for Old Men
Miramax

In a film filled with so many outstanding performances, Harrelson's is often forgotten. But his scene opposite Javier Bardem is chilling -- his character, Carson Wells, a bounty hunter hired to hunt down Chigurh (Bardem), suddenly becomes the hunted. Just look at Harrelson’s face when he sits in the room with Bardem. He knows it's bye-bye time. Watch here.

5. 'White Men Can't Jump' (1992)

White Men Can't Jump
20th Century Fox

There's just something about Harrelson teaming with Wesley Snipes that puts a smile on our faces (but we won’t talk about "Money Train"). In this comedy set on the basketball courts of Venice, California, Harrelson and Snipes play a pair of hustlers who use the stereotypes of white players to make money. Harrelson showed he got game; the film's basketball coach, NBA Hall of Famer Bob Lanier, admitted during shooting that both he and Snipes had reached a college basketball Division III skill level. Though their believability as ballers is impressive, what makes the film is Harrelson's ability to keep up with Snipes’ motor mouth. Watch here.

4. 'Kingpin' (1996)

Kingpin
MGM

"Zombieland" wasn't the only time Harrelson starred opposite Bill Murray. The first time was in this Farrelly brothers cult classic. Harrelson plays a former bowling prodigy who looses his hand after hustling with another pro, "Big Ern" (Murray). Having played the pretty boy for most of his career, Harrelson abandoned his typical persona for comedy, playing an overweight slob with a horrible combover and hook on one hand. It made for hilarious moments. Watch here.

3. 'The Messenger' (2009)

The Messenger
Oscilloscope

Before "Rampart," Harrelson and writer-director Oren Moverman teamed for a harrowing look at a soldier's return from combat and his new responsibility. Harrelson earned an Oscar nomination for his gripping supporting performance as a casualty notification officer responsible for instructing his newest member (Ben Foster) on how to deliver the news of a soldier's death to their next of kin. When he falls off the wagon at the end of the movie, the vulnerability of this hardass superior officer is revealed, leading to the film's most touching moment. Watch here.

2. 'The People vs. Larry Flynt' (1996)

The People vs. Larry Flynt
Columbia Pictures

His Oscar-nominated performance as the controversial Hustler publisher Larry Flynt was a landmark in Harrelson's career. Embodying Flynt physically and vocally, Harrelson was at the peak of his talents (and popularity) and surprised many in the industry who just thought of him as a fun-loving hippie. Though the film covered serious material, it's Harrelson's comic timing that lightens the hardships in Flynt's life. Watch here.

1. 'Natural Born Killers' (1994)

Natural Born Killers
Warner Bros.

Oliver Stone's highly controversial, ultra-violent love fable starred Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as a pair of psychopathic murders on a nationwide killing spree for the heck of it. Sporting a shaved head and Coke-bottle sunglasses for the film's poster, Harrelson quickly became a lightning rod for criticism about violence in movies. Like it or not, the dark role would epitomize his no-fear attitude towards playing difficult characters. Watch here.

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