From Anton Chigurh to Coriolanus Snow, Woody Harrelson has stepped to many a menacing foe throughout his career in movies. But none compares to the fury of a Frances McDormand scorned.
In EW’s exclusive preview from Martin McDonagh’s upcoming dramedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Harrelson plays a sheriff, Bill Willoughby, taken to task by a grieving mother, Mildred Hayes (McDormand), for his department’s lack of progress in finding the murderer-rapist who brutally killed her daughter.
“I’d do anything to catch the guy who did it, but when the DNA don’t match no one who’s ever been arrested… right now, there ain’t too much more we could do,” he says, chagrined by a trio of defamatory signs Hayes erected to spite him. She responds: “You could pull blood from every man and boy in this town over the age of eight… if it was me, I’d start up a database. Every male baby that’s born, stick ’em on it, and as soon as he done something wrong, cross-reference it, make 100 percent certain it was a correct match, then kill him.”
Not amused by her suggestion, he notes that there are “definitely civil rights laws that prevent that.”
Still, she pushes: “The time it took you to get out here whining like a bitch, Willoughby, some other poor girl is probably out there being butchered right now, but I’m glad you got your priorities straight, I’ll say that for you.”
Three Billboards marks McDonagh’s third feature film as a director, following 2008’s In Bruges and 2012’s Seven Psychopaths. He and his Three Billboards cast — namely McDormand, Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell — generated significant Academy Award buzz out of the fall festival circuit for Three Billboards, as the film earned enthusiastic reviews after world-premiering at the Venice Film Festival before winning the prestigious People’s Choice Award in Toronto (an accolade that has gone to eight of the last 10 Best Picture Oscar winners).
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri opens Nov. 10 in theaters. Watch EW’s exclusive clip from the film above.