Woody Harrelson Shines Bright as a Texas Star in ‘The Highwaymen’

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Tony Maples Photography


“The Highwaymen” is a film from John Lee Hancock, featured on Netflix, and starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson. The retelling of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde story aims its focus on the Texas Rangers who ended the outlaw pair’s crime spree in 1934, following an intense manhunt. Harrelson plays Maney Gault, a former partner to Costner’s character, Frank Hamer, a retired Ranger. Together, they boldly pick up the task of pursuing the fugitives following the FBI’s failure to catch Parker and Barrow. In the process, we see great Texas footage of a phenomenal story set in the Lone Star State, with a Texas star in a leading role.

Born in Midland, Texas, in 1961, Harrelson’s childhood was marked with a drama all its own. His father was given a life sentence in 1979 as a convicted hitman. The actor stated that his father was rarely present for his upbringing, and even less so after that. Charles Harrelson passed away in prison in 2007. In the meantime, Woody and his siblings were raised by a single mother on a secretary’s salary. They moved to Ohio, where Harrelson attended high school, and then he went on to attend Hanover College in Indiana, where he earned a BA in Theater and English in 1983. His big acting break came in 1985, in the role of Woody Boyd, a young, well-meaning bartender in the “Cheers” sitcom. Since then, he’s played a number of notable roles in the film industry, most recently garnering one of the leads in “The Highwaymen.” If anyone has the versatile ability to bring to life both a naïve mid-western beer-slinging lad who moves to Beantown and also, on the other end of the spectrum, a steely-nerved Texas Ranger in hot pursuit of men/women at large, it’s Harrelson.

Video: YouTube/Rapid Trailer

Shared on the Rapid Trailer YouTube channel, the official trailer for “The Highwaymen” does exactly what it’s meant to —entice the viewer. Costner and Harrelson’s leading-men charisma hasn’t dimmed over time. If anything, it’s grown. As a lawman of a few more words than his counterpart, Harrelson’s role as the legendary Gault helps carry the film through the search for justice. His acting range is amazing. His roles in “Natural Born Killers” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt” couldn’t have given any less indication that the ability to play a hardcore Texas lawman was in there somewhere. But it is, and it shines through just as bright as his heroism. The richness in the interactions between the co-stars in this film is palpable and only adds to the true-life drama. Is it possible that Woody attained his ability to be such a character through his life experiences? Most definitely. And with the state of Texas often being seen as just as multi-faceted, is it any wonder he chose this role to pursue?

The rendering of his character in this film is sharp and thrilling. If you haven’t yet watched this portrayal, check it out on Netflix at your earliest opportunity. The scenery, the vintage backdrop, and the characters will draw you in just as much as the real-life story that unfolds before your eyes. And the actors’ performances are both reciprocal and unique at the same time. It’s a Texas legend worthy of their artistic creativity, and Harrelson was a great choice as Costner’s counterpart.