Woody Harrelson To Play Steve Schmidt In HBO Adaptation of Game Change
Can Woody Harrelson channel his inner conservative?
Harrelson has been signed to play McCain campaign advisor Steve Schmidt in an HBO film adaptation of Game Change, the gossipy account of the 2008 presidential campaign written by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. How big of a stretch will that be? At first glance it would appear that Harrelson won’t be playing himself.
Steve Schmidt was a Karl Rove protégé who helped craft McCain’s phoenix-like rise from the ashes in the summer of 2007 when the campaign for the GOP presidential nomination was in free fall. He was later put in charge of day-to-day operations, in effect the co-campaign manager. A long time Republican insider, he previously served as a deputy assistant to President George W. Bush and campaign manager for Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Harrelson, on the other hand, has never been associated with the Republican Party or conservative causes. Quite the contrary. In his off-stage life Harrelson is an outspoken environmentalist who was once arrested for climbing the Golden Gate to hang an Earth First! banner protesting the logging of old growth forests. He is a strong supporter of the legalization of marijuana who once was arrested in Kentucky for the symbolic planting four hemp seeds. He is also a long time admirer of Dennis Kucinich, whom he refers to as “the real deal”.
The two couldn’t be more different, right? It will be a real stretch for Harrelson to channel his inner buttoned down apparatchik, right?
Well, maybe not.
By GOP standards Schmidt is a bit of a loose cannon. His contribution to the failing McCain campaign was to make the candidate understand that losing campaigns have nothing to lose. The fruit of that advice was the decision to roll the dice on Sarah Palin. He was later among the first to criticize her erratic performance, considered Republican apoplexy at the time. More recently Schmidt committed further sacrilege warning the GOP “cannot remain viable in the long term if it is seen as a sectarian party.” He went even further off the reservation in announcing his support for gay marriage and that he voted no on California’s infamous Proposition 8.
On second thought, maybe wild eyed Woody is just the guy to play Steve Schmidt. Their politics may differ, but that’s because they were separated at birth.
HBO will film Game Change this spring in the Baltimore area. The release date has not been announced.