IOWA CITY — One year ago, actor Woody Harrelson set out to break new cinematic ground by broadcasting live, in real time, an entire movie that was shot in one take with one camera. Next week he’ll show it again — for the first time in the United States — on the University of Iowa campus.
When he filmed the about 100-minute comedy on Jan. 19, 2017, it was broadcast live in over 550 theaters in the United States. “Lost in London” officially premiered in England on Jan. 27, 2017, but it’s been sitting on a shelf since — until now.
“This will be the first screening in the United States since that night,” Harrelson told The Gazette. “I’m kind of excited about it. It will be cool to see how people react. Unless they hate it. Then it won’t be so cool.”
The free University of Iowa screening Jan. 25, in the Iowa Memorial Union will include a question-and-answer session with Harrelson.
The UI stop is the first on a quick five-campus tour of the film, including a visit to Iowa State University on Jan. 26 and trips to Rhode Island, Florida and Pennsylvania.
“I’ll be curious to see it with an American crowd — and a mostly young crowd,” Harrelson said.
When asked why he picked Iowa for the film’s first U.S. screening, Harrelson said he didn’t know exactly.
“But why not?” he said.
Harrelson said he hasn’t spent much time in this state — if any.
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“I think I might have driven through Iowa one time on a motorcycle,” he said. “But that was so many years ago. I can’t be certain at all. So, actually, maybe I didn’t do that.”
The 56-year-old Harrelson is famed and widely acclaimed for a long list of acting roles, from his breakout part on the sitcom “Cheers” to performances in movies such as “No Country of Old Men,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and “Natural Born Killers.”
His idea for a real-time shooting and screening of “Lost in London” was born from one “hellish” night in the city in 2002, according to media reports. It involved a fight with his wife, an uproar at a West End nightclub, a police chase and an eventual arrest, according to the Guardian newspaper.
“It’s based on this night I wanted to forget, so I don’t know why I wrote anything down,” Harrelson told The Gazette. “Even though it was a tragic night, and one my least favorite memories, it really — well, I thought, comedy. This is comedy.”
Harrelson wrote a script for the movie and he plays himself, and stars along with Owen Wilson and Willie Nelson. The shoot involved 30 cast members and 24 locations and includes car and foot chase scenes. Because of the one-time-shot nature of the project, Harrelson said, “There were definitely some mistakes made, for sure.”
“I would say there’s about 970 things I’d like to change about it,” he said. “Of course, being the way we shot it, I can’t change anything. But I still quite like how it turned out. It makes me laugh.”
After gauging audience reaction in the coming week, Harrelson said, he plans to decide next steps for the movie — including a likely spring release on iTunes.
“What I wanted to do was to show it at four or five places just before releasing it to iTunes,” he said. “So I’m showing it on five colleges on five nights in a row.
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“It’s kind of ambitious. But I think it will give me a good read on how people respond to it.”
Harrelson said he’s in Atlanta now working on a project he can’t disclose. After the college circuit, he’ll head to New Orleans to shoot a movie with Kevin Costner called “Highwayman,” centered on the lawmen who pursued outlaws Bonnie and Clyde in the movie by the same name.
Sponsoring Harrelson’s Iowa City visit is the UI Lecture Committee, which for more than 30 years has been bringing to campus speakers and thinkers in science, politics, business, human rights, law and the arts. The group — which consists of students, faculty and staff — brought former White House intern Monica Lewinsky to campus in October.
The series is paid for through student fees and private support.
If you go
University of Iowa
• What: Woody Harrelson’s screening of “Lost in London” and conversation
• When: 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 25
• Where: Iowa Memorial Union, UI campus
Iowa State University
• What: Harrelson’s screening of “Lost in London” and conversation at Iowa State
• When: 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 26
• Where: Great Hall in the Memorial Union, ISU campus
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