Woody Harrelson’s Reddit AMA famously went down in flames when a commenter brought up a story about Woody supposedly crashing his prom and banging someone’s date, which was a shame, because Woody Harrelson always seemed like such a likable good ol’ boy. Today, Grantland has an Oral History of White Men Can’t Jump, and while I’d urge you to read the whole thing, there were a few anecdotes in particular that I especially enjoyed.
On the subject of Woody Harrelson being a good old boy:
Rosie Perez: I spoke to [Director] Ron [Shelton] about [Perez’s nude scene] and he said, “You will not do anything that you are uncomfortable with. As you know, as we discussed before you signed the contract, there is going to be nudity.” We choreographed the scene and then he goes, “Let us know when you’re ready.” I stayed in that bathroom forever. I just couldn’t come out. Woody knocked on the door and was like, “Are you OK?” I said, “Yeah, I just need a second.” He said, “Well, you know, you’ve been in there for 30 minutes.” I was like, “I’m going to feel weird because you’re going to see my body.” He said, “I have the utmost respect for you and love working with you and there is nothing but respect for you from the whole cast and crew and we’re going to take it slow.” I open the door and I’m standing there half-naked and he goes, “Oh my God, look at your tits. They’re beautiful.” I slammed the door. I started cracking up. I go, “You’re such a pig, Woody.” He goes, “I’m sorry, they’re huge and you’re so tiny.” I go, “Oh my God, let’s just f*cking do this.” It was great. He took the edge off because he was so goddamn silly and he made it fun. I give all the credit to Woody and the director for that. The chemistry between us was there already.
Harrelson: You hear a lot of actors say that it’s really not fun and difficult and there is all the crew around.
Shelton: We filmed it with Steadicam or a little handheld and they got a little frisky.
Harrelson: I remember it being fun. It was really fun.
Oh, Woody Harrelson, you goofy pothead, you’ve ogled your way into my heart yet again. Let this be a lesson to you, guys, never pretend that you don’t enjoy staring at boobs.
Keanu was up for the role, but wasn’t good enough at basketball:
Shelton: He wasn’t athletic enough. We worked with him for days. He worked hard. He was a really nice guy. I think he wouldn’t have been convincing on the court because we had a lot of real basketball players out there.
Cylk Cozart (who played Robert): Keanu almost broke my neck going up for a layup. He was so wild. He was throwing the ball hard and throwing elbows. He didn’t know what he was doing. Ron stopped it, like, “OK, I’ve seen enough.” I thought, Wow, what was he doing growing up? He didn’t play ball? Ron also went to Chicago to meet with John Cusack.
Victoria Thomas (casting director): John Cusack wasn’t really a basketball player. He wanted to do it, but I don’t think athletically John was as … He was into kickboxing at the time.
Actors aren’t athletic? Who knew? Oh well, while Keanu may not be a great basketball player, or a great actor, he does know Kung Fu.
Woody being Woody:
Marques Johnson (Raymond): The whole purpose was to get in shape and work together. The first time I played against Woody he called a bogus foul and I was like, “That’s a bullshit call.” Woody got all up in my face and talked about how I was impugning his integrity and all that.
The Yo Momma Jokes were way dirtier than what made it in the film:
Kadeem Hardison: I called back to New York and told everyone to send me all of their “Yo momma” jokes. I made a rhyme book for momma jokes. I called Biz Markie. I called everybody. Ron didn’t let me keep my favorite one, which I had gotten from Biz Markie. I tried. I did it again and again. It was, “Your momma so nasty, she keeps ice in her panties to keep her crabs fresh.”
Shelton: We shot ‘em, but most of them would have given me an NC-17 rating.
That’s Dwayne Wayne to you, son. By the way, do people still get crabs? Or did they kind of go out with the advent of the Brazilian? I suppose I should ask your momma.
Woody still thinks he can dunk because of yoga:
Shelton: A lot of it was completely corrupt. Everyone was betting on everything. The place had gotten a little dirty, and I was part of it. The scene at the used-car lot where they stop in the night and Woody says he could dunk? Woody actually bet Wesley that he could dunk it. Wesley kept going off to his trailer and we kept lowering the basket. By the time the bet got high enough, Woody slammed it. Wesley didn’t realize that we lowered the basket a foot.
Harrelson: It was a 9-½-foot rim and I just couldn’t quite get it and it was killing me. It was actually my first introduction to yoga. Wes went to his trailer after we’d been doing this and I’d been losing money to him. I was just so frustrated. The sound girl goes to me, “Woody, why don’t you stretch a little bit? Well, your legs are a little tight, maybe if you stretch, it might help you.” I stretch for a few minutes, grabbed a ball, went out and slammed it.
Cozart: They lowered it a few inches when Woody was in his trailer. He dunked it easily when he came out of the trailer. Stretching doesn’t give you another four, five inches in hops.
Harrelson: I was pretty psyched because I knew I could do that. I did it again just by stretching a little bit.
Shelton: Of course Woody would say that.
Harrelson: A few minutes later, Wes comes out of the trailer and we started again with the betting and of course, I can’t slam it and I get frustrated and say, “I’ll bet you $1,000.” And of course he did bet me, knowing I couldn’t do it, and I just slammed it. The look on his face was one of the most priceless things.
Fantastic story. If that’s why Woody Harrelson’s into yoga, you wonder if there’s a similar story behind those oxygen bars he was promoting.