Woody Harrelson's name is starting to trend on Twitter as many of his fans are finding out for the first time that he's the son of a convicted hitman. Back in 1979, Woody's father Charles Harrelson allegedly assassinated a federal judge, and he was subsequently charged and convicted for the crime. This followed a prior conviction for the 1968 murder-for-hire killing of a man in Texas for which the senior Harrelson served five years.
When Woody Harrelson first hit the scene in the 1980s with his breakout role in Cheers, his father's story had gotten some attention in the press and was fairly common knowledge at the time. Over the years, however, that not-so-fun fact about the Harrelson family has become much more obscure. This week, the tidbit has been floating around on Twitter with a lot of Harrelson fans stunned to realize that the True Detective star is the son of a convicted hitman.
"My timeline is really sleeping on the fact that Woody Harrelson's dad was a HITMAN," posted one shocked fan on Twitter.
"I was today years old when I learned that Woody Harrelson's dad was a hitman in Texas and murdered a US District judge in the late 70's," says someone else.
Another fan jokes, "Didn't expect 'Woody Harrelson's father was a hitman' on my 2021 Bingo Card."
"Just learned that Woody Harrelson (the twinkie guy from Zombieland) is the son of a hitman who was allegedly involved in the JFK assassination," adds another tweet. "Just thought I would share."
For his part, Woody is not quite so convinced of his father's guilt when it comes to that specific case. In an interview conducted by Barbara Walters years ago, the veteran actor was questioned about his father's situation, and a clip of the conversation has made its way to YouTube. As seen in the video, Woody notes that his dad wasn't given a fair trial and straight up expresses his belief that he is innocent.
"Well, he is in prison right now for the killing of a federal judge," the Cheers star said. "I think that it was not a fair trial, especially because the guy who supposedly hired my father to commit the murder was later acquitted on a retrial. I'm not saying my father's a saint, but I think he's innocent of that."
Walters then grilled Harrelson a bit more on the subject, asking if he's undergone any efforts to have the case reopened to help set his father free. The Cheers star responds that he "hasn't given up hope," though he doesn't offer any specifics. Harrelson also reiterates his claims that his dad was actually an operative working for the CIA, but he similarly holds back on the particulars.
"Yeah, he was [with the CIA]," Woody said. "I shouldn't get into this right now. This is where we're going to get into trouble... It's true. [Does it make a difference] that he was trained by the CIA? Yeah, I think it makes a difference."
At the time of Charles Harrison's arrest, he had been estranged from Woody and they hadn't spoken in many years. Their relationship changed following the conviction, as Woody would visit his father regularly in prison. Woody had tried unsuccessfully to have the conviction overturned, and the elder Harrison died behind bars in 2007 at the age of 68. It's a bizarre story, so it's easy to see why it's capturing the attention of those unfamiliar. You can see what others are saying about it on Twitter.