Watch: Woody Harrelson is excited for people to see ‘Hunger Games’

Woody Harrelson’s having a lovely moment these days.

I sat down with him this week to talk about his movie “Rampart,” and that represents one part of what I like about his work right now.  He’s a great character actor, but it took a while for filmmakers to really figure out his range.  I think he has a strong connection to filmmaker Oren Moverman, and I am excited to see if they’re going to keep working together moving forward from here.

But Woody has also become a valuable asset for big studio movies when they find the right role for him, and I think Haymitch, an important figure in the world of “Hunger Games,” could be one of those cases where he’s not the first name you think of, but he’s could turn out to be an inspired choice.

He’s certainly ready for whatever happens, and I think it’s interesting to see how different his attitude is from Elizabeth Banks, who we spoke to yesterday.  She’s keeping her head down, focused on the work she’s doing, and tuning out the rapidly-mounting hype for the films.  Woody, on the other hand, seems totally at peace with whichever way this goes.  It could be gigantic, and he’d be happy to keep on playing the character in future films, or this could just miss, and he’d still be satisfied with the work and the experience.

Because Harrelson lives his private life in a fairly public way, I’ve heard a lot of judgments about him over the years, but from filmmakers who work with him and from actors who play opposite him, I’ve never heard anything less than respect and adoration.  A few years ago, I was at dinner with some filmmakers he’s worked with, and he showed up midway through the meal.  No matter who walked up to the table, whether they were old friends, hardcore fans, or the waitstaff at the restaurant, he treated them all with the exact same warmth and easy charm, and I have a feeling that whatever happens with “The Hunger Games,” Woody’s going to stay just as centered as he is right now.

“The Hunger Games” arrives in theaters March 23, 2012.