Woody Harrelson ignited controversy at the end of February after his “Saturday Night Live” monologue revealed itself to be one long COVID conspiracy joke. Not that Harrelson ever saw the backlash against him online. In a new cover story for Esquire alongside his “White House Plumbers” co-star Justin Theroux, Harrelson said he does not read the internet and thus isn’t concerned by the controversy he caused.
“Well, people told me it was, shall we say, trending,” Harrelson said when asked about his polarizing “SNL” monologue. “No, I don’t look at that shit. I feel like, ‘I said it on “SNL.”‘ I don’t need to go further with it… other than to say — well, no, I won’t. Never mind. That’s enough.… But it don’t change my life one bit. Not one bit, if the mainstream media wants to have a go at you, right? My life is still wonderful.”
Harrelson spent the majority of his “SNL” monologue touting the “craziest script” he ever read. “So the movie goes like this,” he explained at the monologue’s climax. “The biggest drug cartels in the world get together and buy up all the media and all the politicians and force all the people in the world to stay locked in their homes. And people can only come out if they take the cartel’s drugs and keep taking them over and over.”
“I threw the script away,” Harrelson added. “I mean, who was going to believe that crazy idea? Being forced to do drugs? I do that voluntarily all day.”
Harrelson was making a commentary on COVID vaccine mandates, a topic he more bluntly railed against during a New York Times interview published shortly before his “SNL” episode. The actor criticized Hollywood for still enforcing COVID safety protocols on film sets.
“What’s absurd about the Covid protocols?” The New York Times asked Harrelson.
“The fact that they’re still going on!” the actor responded. “I don’t think that anybody should have the right to demand that you’re forced to do the testing, forced to wear the mask and forced to get vaccinated three years on. I’m just like, let’s be done with this nonsense. It’s not fair to the crews. I don’t have to wear the mask. Why should they? Why should they have to be vaccinated? How’s that not up to the individual? I shouldn’t be talking about this [expletive].”
“It makes me angry for the crew,” Harrelson continued. “The anarchist part of me, I don’t feel that we should have forced testing, forced masking and forced vaccination. That’s not a free country. Really I’m talking about the crew. Because I can get out of wearing a mask. I can test less. I’m not in the same position they’re in, but it’s wrong. It’s three years. Stop.”
Harrelson’s comments also led to a divisive response on social media, but he told Esquire magazine he mostly stays away from the internet.
“I don’t read [the internet]. It’s like when reviews come out for movies. I don’t look,” Harrelson said. “Well, I did one time. I was in this play in San Francisco with Sean Penn in 2000. At one point, I was stretching in the place that I was renting there and there was an LA Times, and it had a picture of me and Sean on stage. I’d only been hearing, ‘Oh my God, the critics just love you! You’re going to be so psyched!’ Well, it just so happened that the paper was open to the review, and I started reading it. Oh, it just went after me. It fucked me up for at least two, three performances. It’s a poison pill.”
Head over to Esquire’s website to read Harrelson’s latest cover story in its entirety.
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