March 24 (UPI) -- Woody Harrelson's character in the new comedy Wilson finds himself surprisingly adaptable to prison life after a series of misadventures.
Asked if he thinks he would be able to manage himself as well behind bars, the 55-year-old actor told reporters in a roundtable interview in New York this week: "I think I would.
"I've been in prison -- not as an inmate -- but I've been in prison a few times, shooting stuff and had these interactions with some of the inmates. Some not good interactions where I was like, 'That's probably not smart of me; I'm going to get shanked or something for the way I'm behaving right now,'" he laughed. "One of the times I had my head shaved and they were yelling at me, calling me a skinhead, which pissed me off, so I was yelling [expletive] back at them, but I spent some time hanging with some of these inmates... It's interesting because a lot of them, the ones I had hung out with, had done the worst crimes -- murder."
The actor recalled meeting someone he regarded as a "sweet, docile man," whom he later discovered murdered his whole family.
"One time, I did a yoga class for the inmates and it was really cool, man," he recalled. "I understand that when someone's done something so horrible, something as bad as murder, there needs to be repercussions. But, unfortunately, those repercussions then end up [meaning] they have no life ever again after that -- even if they get out. They are always the guy who did that. So, I don't know. I feel a certain compassion for them."
But when a journalist chimed in, "Although they didn't have compassion for their victims," Harrelson agreed: "Yeah, no, that's true. That's true."
Although he didn't discuss it during the interview, the actor's father Charles died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 69 as he slept in his super-maximum security federal prison cell in Colorado in 2007.
He was convicted of killing federal Judge John Wood in San Antonio in 1979. Prosecutors said he was paid $250,000 by drug dealers who wanted to avoid appearing before Wood.
Woody Harrelson's new movie -- in theaters now -- follows Wilson, a lonely, brutally candid man as he tries to re-connect with Pippi, his former drug addict, ex-wife, and Claire, the young-adult daughter he never knew he had. It co-stars Laura Dern, Cheryl Hines and Judy Greer.