It’s not exactly A Wonderful Life or Elf, but believe it or not, The People vs. Larry Flynt opened on Christmas Day 25 years ago Saturday.
The Miloš Forman-directed biopic chronicled the rise of famed provocateur and Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt (Woody Harrelson), culminating with this 1988 Supreme Court case against conservative televangelist Reverend Jerry Falwell.
Harrelson earned an Academy Award nomination for his fiery portrayal of Flynt, the First Amendment champion who died in February from heart failure at age 78.
In a 2017 Role Recall interview with Yahoo Entertainment (watch above, with The People vs. Larry Flynt starting at 4:50), Harrelson spoke candidly about his relationship with the controversial magazine tycoon. The Cheers and White Men Can't Jump alum, now 60, admired Flynt, even though Harrelson didn't necessarily approve of the publisher's magazine content. When Flynt wasn’t invited to the Academy Awards after Harrelson scored his Best Actor nomination, the actor invited the publisher along as a plus one.
"I really came to like him, I don't think I would've been much into doing the movie if I hadn't come to respect Larry," said Harrelson, who earned his first of three Academy Awards nominations for the film, which chronicles 35 years of Flynt’s life, from his impoverished Kentucky upbringing to the landmark case Hustler Magazine v. Falwell.
"I don’t respect much the pornography part of what he does, but what he is as a person, and the rebel that he is."
At the time of our interview, Harrelson was particularly proud of Flynt’s efforts against then-President Donald Trump. In October 2017, the publisher offered a $10 million bounty "for information leading the impeachment and removal from office of Donald J. Trump."
"Even what he did recently offering $10 million for any information leading to the impeachment of our so-called president, I thought was pretty cool," Harrelson said. "I've never met a more honest man who just says exactly what he's feeling at any moment. We had a good relationship, and still do."