Woody Harrelson: Police brutality finished off my ambitions of becoming an officer
He has since gone on to earn two Oscar nominations.
Woody Harrelson has told how he gave up any ambitions of becoming a law enforcer after becoming a victim of police brutality.
The twice Oscar-nominated actor, 55, said he was entertaining the idea of entering the police, FBI or Secret Service at the age of 20 but the violence led him to aim solely for the screen.
He told the Hollywood Reporter that his first arrest came when an officer pulled him over for jaywalking, crossing the road illegally, while he was out drinking.
The officer accused him of lying after Harrelson initially denied he was carrying identification, he said.
“And then he grabbed me, smashed me against the wall a couple of times,” Harrelson, who was raised in Texas, said.
“I knocked his hands off, pushed him away and started running. And that was the beginning of a real dire episode.
“He put out an officer-in-distress signal, and soon I’m just surrounded by blue, and they had me down on the ground, knee in my throat. It was so brutal, the way they were handling me.”
Harrelson said he was bundled into a police van but managed to escape when they picked up another man for urinating on the street.
“I was running as fast as I could across the parking lot. And I can hear them all shouting and running after me, and there is a car going across this parking lot,” he said.
“I hit the car, did a complete flip, landed on the back of my head, kept rolling, and then they were on me and they maced the f*** out of me.
“And when they mace you, you’re done, that’s the end of the story.
“And at that time, I was still entertaining the notion of becoming a cop – either a cop or FBI or Secret Service. I stopped wanting to be a cop, for sure.”
Harrleson went on to play a bartender in Cheers before earning Oscar nominations for The People Vs. Larry Flynt and The Messenger.