WOODY HARRELSON's acceptance speech as the
Honorary Maverick Award Winner at the 2003 Woodstock Film Festival.
The Honorary Maverick Award was presented to
actor/activist Woody Harrelson for his fierce independence regarding art
Iíd like to say thank you to the Woodystock Film Festival for naming it
after me because that does mean a lot. I make this joke sometimes,
because Iím perpetually late it seems, or at least tardy, that I was
born two months early Ė that parts true Ė and Iíve been trying to
compensate for it ever since. But I have to say this is the first time
in my murky memory that Iíve been 34 years late, so itís good to finally
I thank all the hippies for helping me feel like I belong.
So, I was curious when I found out I was going to get this award, I
didnít really understand what Maverick meant, so I looked it up. And it
turns out thereís this guy named Samuel Augustus Maverick, and he was
born in 1803, 200 years ago, coincidentally on my birthday, July 23rd.
And anyway, the deal with him was everyone was branding their cows or
their calves really, and he wouldnít brand his. You know, he was a
rancher who wouldnít brand his calves. And so it became like a thing
that they called these unbranded
calves Mavericks. And it also came to mean an independent individual
who does not go along with the group or party.
So, I started thinking about people who I considered true Mavericks,
and I thought of people like, oh another New York State resident, Ani
DiFranco, who I love because you know she couldíve sold out to a record
company at any time and she kept independent and kept doing her thing
and formed Righteous Babe Records and just became mainstream on her own
without the help of any record companies. And other people like Julia
Butterfly Hill who as some of you know spent two years up in a redwood
tree to save that trees life and understood the importance of that. Or
for example Sean Penn, who had the courage to go to Iraq when all of the
substantial artillery of the US Media, at least lets call it the Right
Wing Media, was pointed his direction. Or Howard Zinn, or Michael
Moore, or this fella I met one time in India, Swami [Indian name], and
after I met him and he spoke for a while, he had talked about all these
very fundamental important issues, and I said afterwards ďOK Iím gonna
quit this and Iím quitting that, and Iím gonna be doing yoga every day
and Iíll be meditating every day for sure, and IÖĒ
And he just looks at me and he smiles and he says ďEvolution, not
But I have to also take a look at these old time Mavericks. Let me tip
my hat to the old time Mavericks like Jesus and Gandhi and Martin Luther
King. And if I might just throw out a quote for you from, for example,
ďWhat difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless
whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism
or the holy name of liberty or democracy.Ē
And if I were to give you a quote from Martin Luther King; ďOur
scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided
missiles and misguided men.Ē
Or I might give a quote from, for example, Jesus, who said ďThou shalt
But so I wonder what it is about myself that might be Maverick. I mean,
itís not necessarily my body or my spirit maybe, I guess it would have
to be my ideas, but then you know Iím looking at my ideas, and you know
I believe in some simple things like for example, a farmer should be
able to grow whatever he wants to grow in a country that you call free.
Yeah? But then thatís not really an original idea, because the people
who framed the constitution had the same concept of freedom, and the
people who framed the Declaration of Independence, both of which of
course were written on hemp paper.
I donít think that the WTO should be able to make laws or create laws or
have power that usurps the small farmer in countries around the world,
including our own, in favor of giant agro-business. But thereís a lot
of people who feel that way too, right? So thatís not an original idea.
And I do not think our cars should necessarily be running on petroleum
because thatís proven itself not so great for the environment. But then
again the guy who invented the diesel engine, Rudolph Diesel, had in
mind that it would be run from bio-fuel, which would come from the
farmers. And he believed inÖ it was basically like the Chemergy
Movement, the marriage between farmers and industry. So thatís again
not an original idea.
And I donít think that paper should have to come from trees, but then
thatís not really a very original idea either, because up until the late
1800ís ninety percent of the worldís paper was made from hemp.
And then I also believe that food should be organic, and that organic
should be important. I know a lot of you feel that way. But that is
not such an original idea because before World War One there wasnít
anything, there wasnít organic. In fact, organic was the brainchild of
someone who noticed after World War One that ďDamn, that mustard gas
worked great on people, I say we thin it out a little bit and spray it
on our crops, get rid of the pests!Ē SoÖ I donít know what that fella
was thinking. But then like last weekend I went to Boulder for the first
time, and I hung out in Boulder, and I also hung out in Fort Collins
right next to it. And in Fort Collins, they were having an issue with
the West Nile virus and so they were spraying the shit out of Fort
Collins with all this insecticide, yeah? Now, I think thatís a silly
idea. Youíre spraying and spraying to get a few mosquitoes. I mean,
itís kind of like the same concept of bombing a country for a long time
in your quest for one man. And I donít think folks should have their
homes bombed by a government whose masquerading like itís crusading for
peace when they are invading for oil. To pound our flag into their soil.
But everybody feels that way. Thirty-million people on the streets that
|So let me suggest Iím not a
maverick at all.
Iím just really one of yíall.
Iím an old fashioned guy.
Just trying to get by.
Every once in a while maybe getting just a little bit high.
An American through and through just like you and - just like you.
Proud to be a citizen of humanity.
Not to be confused with inhumanity.
Of the best government money can buy.
And thatís is why I have to say that everybody is a maverick in
their own way.
Stand up for what you care about and lead with your heart today.
Thank you so much.
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