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The Tao of Woody Harrelson

From ''Game Change'' to ''The Hunger Games,'' Hollywood's mellowest star is suddenly everywhere

One quick scan of the parking lot, and it's immediately clear which vehicle belongs to Woody Harrelson. Squatting magnificently amid a grid of clean, white cigarette-carton-shaped trailers — each likely sucking up more electricity than a decent-size car wash — is a '70s-era bus covered in swirling murals of moons, dolphins, unicorns, and other groovy staples of the airbrush medium, and looking like something Ken Kesey would have approved of. At one point, it was a smog-belching emissary of the Chicago Transit Authority, but the ever eco-minded Woody — it feels plain wrong to refer to him as anything else — has reinvented it as a solar-paneled, biodiesel-fueled, hemp-interior friend to Mother Earth. It has accompanied him on numerous film shoots over the past 11 years, and like his home in Maui, its main goal is to conserve energy.

Right now, that's Woody's goal, too.

''You don't mind if I lie down, do ya?'' he asks, his ingratiating drawl — the verbal equivalent of a conspiratorial wink — making it impossible to say no. ''Whoo, man, am I exhausted!''

He'd have to be. Last month saw the release of Rampart, a small gut-punch of a drama in which he gives a pressure-cooker performance as a terminally corrupt cop. Then came Game Change, HBO's political docudrama about the 2008 presidential campaign, followed by The Hunger Games, the hopeful franchise starter, which has him playing Haymitch Abernathy, the whiskey-pickled mentor to Katniss Everdeen. Now Woody's here in New Orleans making yet another film — Now You See Me, a heist flick about a troupe of bank-robbing illusionists, costarring Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Caine, Isla Fisher, and Mark Ruffalo — and he's currently taking a break in the middle of what's shaping up to be a long, tiring day of shooting. Once horizontal on the stack of blue cushions he'd been sitting on, the 50-year-old actor lets out a contented sigh. ''Thanks, man, I needed that,'' he says. ''My natural tendency is towards laziness and indolence. I'm really a slacker at heart.''

If that's the case, he's been pretty bad at it lately.

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