A star of the Venom franchise and a household name after appearing in over 80 movies has come under fire over the weekend after a jokey rant on Saturday Night Live involved his controversial views about the COVID-19 pandemic and his stance on Big Pharma vaccination mandates.
In the world of Hollywood, celebrities can often find themselves in hot water when they reveal their views as they relate to a controversial topic. From politics to laws to the pandemic, navigating misinformation and someone’s personal views vs. what is right or wrong, true or false, has become commonplace in the era of social media.
Film stars, and anyone else in the public eye, can use their platforms to express opinion in any way they choose. But, because of the public nature of their lives, these views can and will be called into question by fans and those of the opposing view.
Over the weekend, Marvel and Star Wars actor Woody Harrelson has caused a rucus after making a joking rant about Big Pharma, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the vaccination mandates on Saturday Night Live. The actor, known for roles like Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games franchise, Tobias Beckett in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), and Cletus Kasady AKA Carnage in the Venom (2018) sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) from director Andy Serkis. For the latter, Harrelson starred alongside Tom Hardy (Eddie Brock/Venom), Michelle Williams (Anne Weying), and Naomie Harris (Frances Barrison/Shriek).
Harrelson, 61, appeared on NBC’s historic Saturday night TV show and, during his opening monologue, made comments about the pandemic. Harrelson said:
“So the movie goes like this. The biggest drug cartels in the world get together and buy up all the media and all the politicians and force all the people in the world to stay locked in their homes. And people can only come out if they take the cartel’s drugs and keep taking them over and over.”
The Cheers actor then stated he “threw the script away,” saying how strange it is to be forced to do drugs when he does that voluntarily every day.
Harrelson is not one to stay out of the media spotlight when it comes to voicing his opinion. Variety notes that in an interview with Vanity Fair, the actor revealed he does not wear masks, calling himself “internally clean.” And in a since-deleted Instagram post, Harrelson claimed the 5G mobile network spread COVID-19.
After his stint on SNL, social media exploded with reactions to Harrelson’s monologue. Many celebrated his free speech, while others condemned his rhetoric. Like the protocols that were employed to counter the pandemic, so too has Woody Harrelson divided the public.
The future of the Venom franchise
There is not much currently known about the third movie in the Venom franchise. Both Ruben Fleischer’s Venom and Serkis’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage received mixed reviews, but the almost-cult-like status of the movies has seen a threequel greenlit by Sony Pictures. The film will continue expanding Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, which also includes the widely-panned Morbius (2022), and the upcoming films Kraven the Hunter (2023), El Muerto (2024), and Madame Web (2024).
Related: Tom Hardy’s ‘Venom 3’ Follows Same Path as ‘Star Wars’ Sequel Trilogy
Kelly Marcel will make her directorial debut for the second Venom sequel. She is also penning the script. Tom Hardy, who stars as the journalist Eddie Brock, AKA the titular Venom, revealed the movie had started pre-production. It is rumored that Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man may appear in the future of the franchise considering that Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures co-utilize the character.
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