Name at birth: Woodrow Tracy Harrelson
Woody Harrelson has been nominated twice for an Oscar, once as best actor for the The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996) and once as best supporting actor for The Messenger (2009). Pretty darn good for a guy who first made his fame as a clueless bartender in the 1980s television sitcom Cheers. That show was already a hit when Harrelson joined the cast in 1985. Over the next eight seasons, he was nominated five times for an Emmy (he won in 1989). His TV success led to film roles, and by the mid-1990s he was a movie star, thanks to parts in White Men Can't Jump (1992, with Wesley Snipes), Indecent Proposal (1993, starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore) and a star turn in Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (1994). His portrayal of Larry Flynt in The People vs. Larry Flynt (co-starring Courtney Love) surprised audiences and critics -- that same year he starred in the ridiculous comedy Kingpin -- and his Oscar nomination solidified his reputation as a versatile and hard-working actor. Since then he's appeared in comedies and dramas on the big screen, while also making the news as an outspoken environmentalist. His movies include Welcome to Sarajevo (1997, with Marisa Tomei), No Country For Old Men (2007, starring Javier Bardem) and Zombieland (2009).
Harrelson was nominated for his sixth Emmy as Woody (from Cheers), when he guest-starred in the Cheers spin-off, Frasier… His father, Charles Harrelson, was sent to prison for murder when Woody was seven years old; Charles Harrelson was again convicted of murder in 1982, when Woody was a student at Hanover College. Charles Harrelson died in a maximum security prison in 2007, while serving a life sentence for the murder of a federal judge in Texas… Woody Harrelson joined the cast of Cheers after actor Nicholas Colasanto, who played the old bartender Coach, died during the filming of the third season.
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