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Woody Harrelson shares a first with Iowa City

Actor Woody Harrelson jokes about his image on the screen behind him as he introduces his film “Lost in London” during a screening in the Main Lounge at the University of Iowa’s Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Thursday, January 25, 2018. Harrelson wrote, directed and starred in the film, which was shot in one take, with one camera and broadcast live in real time to theatres. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Actor Woody Harrelson jokes about his image on the screen behind him as he introduces his film “Lost in London” during a screening in the Main Lounge at the University of Iowa’s Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Thursday, January 25, 2018. Harrelson wrote, directed and starred in the film, which was shot in one take, with one camera and broadcast live in real time to theatres. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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A sequel to “Zombieland” could be in the works. A second “White men can’t jump” probably is not. Iowa in January is the place to be. And sometimes you don’t realize you’re doing something great until you do it.

Oscar-nominated actor Woody Harrelson made those revelations and more during his visit to the University of Iowa on Thursday, after showing his film “Lost in London” for the first time in the United States since shooting it one year ago, with one camera, in one take, while livestreaming the feed into hundreds of theaters.

“I have a lot of respect for directors now, I mean a lot more than I did,” Harrelson said about his debut cinematic directing experience.

He hasn’t ruled out directing again, but also painted himself as “an extremely lazy person.”

“Like weirdly lazy,” Harrelson said, even while mentioning he’s made nearly 100 films. “That’s a lot of flops.”

Harrelson admitted some nervousness about how the movie would be received — giving advice before starting the show about how the crowd of hundreds should respond if they don’t like it.

“If I don’t like something, and it’s really bothering me, I find the best remedy is just laughing,” he said, mentioning the movie is supposed to be a comedy.

“Lost in London” is based on a true story from Harrelson’s life. It tracks his misadventures on a night he said he actually hoped to forget — one in which a fight with his wife leaves him tagging along with a prince, brawling with Owen Wilson in a bar, destroying an ashtray in a taxi, leading police on a foot chase through a playground, before collapsing finally on the cement floor of a jail cell.

At that moment, Willie Nelson — who Harrelson refers to as the “Dalai Lama of Texas” — appears to serenade him and offer advice. After the movie, during a question-and-answer session, one member of the audience asked Harrelson if Nelson has given him advice in real life.

“Willie has given me quite a lot of advice — quite a lot,” Harrelson said, recalling one incident in which he was bemoaning being irresponsible. “(Willie) looked at me and said, ‘You have a responsibility to be irresponsible.’”

When asked why Harrelson debuted his movie in Iowa, as part of a college-campus tour that will next stop at Iowa State University, Harrelson seemed at a loss — save having played a bowling Iowan in the movie, “Kingpin,” which Iowa Public Radio host and evening MC Charity Nebbe reminded him he did.

“I actually forgot that,” said Harrelson, who wore an Iowa Hawkeye cap.

“I don’t know what I was thinking,” he said. “I honestly don’t. But here we are.”

Throughout the evening, Harrelson was self-deprecating in his humor, generous with his time, and up to answer any question, sign someone’s Zombieland DVD, and snap a selfie with a student.

And before stepping off the stage, Harrelson expressed gratitude to the massive crowd and seemed pleased with his decision to come here — even if the “why” remains a mystery.

“For the first viewing, it was wonderful that it was in front of you,” he said.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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