Woody Harrelson explains his London cab rampage. The ''Natural Born Killers'' star says it was a minor incident that got out of control when his and the cabbie's tempers flared

”I’m not excusing my behavior. I was a freaking idiot.” So says Woody Harrelson, in an interview yesterday with Britain’s Daily Telegraph, explaining for the first time what happened last month during a late-night rampage that involved two London cabs and landed the actor in jail overnight.

Harrelson was charged with vandalizing the first cab, having broken the ashtray and a door handle before fleeing in a second cab and ultimately on foot. The charges were dropped after Harrelson paid the first driver about $800 to reimburse him for the damages. ”What really happened,” he tells the Telegraph, ”was I was throwing away a piece of paper in an ashtray. The ashtray wouldn’t open. I pulled, I pulled, gave it a little more pressure, it comes off in my hand. From up front: ‘What’s going on?’ ‘Uh, the ashtray.’ The guy’s screaming at me. So I’m like, ‘I didn’t mean to.’ Finally, after he yelled at me four or five times, I got angry and I told him to stop the car.”

The driver didn’t stop, however, the actor says. ”Now I know I should have handed him 20 quid and said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ But I let him get me angry. He was an a–hole. But then I became an a–hole.” Harrelson tried to open the door, which had a security lock to keep it from opening while the cab was in motion. ”I overcame that design flaw and he stopped the car,” he says. ”I should have just never run. Maybe I have this victimization complex, but I didn’t want to see the cops.”

Harrelson jumped into another cab, with the first cab in pursuit. ”Then the cops come around the corner and I did a real brainy move: ‘Let me out of here!”’ Police chased him on foot and caught him. ”It took a long time to settle down. In the cell, I had a lot of adrenaline. I did some yoga and was thinking, here I am, I’m 40 years old, this kind of madness I want out of my life.”

Harrelson is currently in London rehearsing for a play with ”Sex and the City”’s Kyle MacLachlan, called ”On an Average Day.” Let’s hope that wasn’t his idea of an average day.