Woody Harrelson & Kaitlin Olson Talk ‘Champions,’ ‘SNL’ and AFC Wrexham

Mar 8, 2023

From director Bobby Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary), Champions is a heartwarming movie about beating the odds and betting on the underdogs, based on the 2018 Spanish film Campeones and inspired by a true story. The sports comedy stars Woody Harrelson, most notably known for his roles in the Zombieland movies, True Detective, and Natural Born Killers, and Kaitlin Olson, best known for her long-running character “Sweet Dee” in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The two comedians give each other a run for their money as co-stars and love interests, and according to Olson in their interview with Collider’s Steve Weintraub, they’re “perfect scene partners.”

In Champions, after falling from grace, former minor-league basketball coach Marcus Marakovich (Harrelson) lands himself into even more hot water after causing a fender-bender. In court, Marcus is given community service that aligns with his expertise; the judge offers Marcus the opportunity to coach a team of adults with intellectual disabilites. Though he’s reluctant, Marcus develops a bond with his new team, and even strikes up a romance with one of the player’s sisters Alex (Olson). With perseverance and dedication, Marcus and his team of nonprofessional players, aka the Friends, work hard to get to the Special Olympics finals. The cast features a crew of brand-new faces that play the talented Friends, as well as Cheech Marin (Up in Smoke) and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters).

During their interview ahead of Champions’ theatrical release on March 10, Harrelson and Olson discussed why they have such strong onscreen chemistry, what it was like behind the scenes while filming in Winnipeg, and Harrelson admits that working with Olson was “daunting.” Harrelson also talked about joining Saturday Night Live’s Five-Timers Club with other greats like Olson’s Always Sunny co-star, Danny DeVito, and SNL alums Steve Martin, and Tina Fey. You can watch the interview in the player above, or read our conversation below.

COLLIDER: I definitely want to say I am a Wrexham fan, and you should give Woody a t-shirt so he can promote the club.

KAITLIN OLSON: I will do that, I will give you… I’ll give you a kit. That’s what they call a “jersey.”

WOODY HARRELSON: “Put your kit on.”

OLSON: Oh yeah!

Image via Focus Features

Woody, I definitely have to ask you an individual question. You are going to be joining the [Saturday Night Live] Five-Timers Club with your upcoming hosting gig. What does it mean to you to join the exclusive club?

HARRELSON: It means one more than it did last time? No, no, it’s very exciting. I gotta say, I’m trying not to think about it because I get nervous because it’s live. I just get nervous about it, and particularly the monologue. So far, all it means is nerves, but at the end of the night, Saturday night, the 25th, I think it’s gonna mean some happiness.

OLSON: It’s gonna be exciting. I’m proud of you.

HARRELSON: [to Olson] Are you gonna be there?

OLSON: No, no. I would not.

HARRELSON: Come on over.

OLSON: You know… I had something to say, and it’s better if I don’t. [taps mic] Is this thing on?

HARRELSON: I love that she’s censoring herself. I’ve never seen this happen. This is incredible. If you had heard what she said in the last interview, but never mind about that. Let’s go on.

Image via Focus Features

I really thought the two of you were fantastic together, and I knew I was in for a good ride because of the opening scene alone. The banter between the two of you in the bedroom and leaving. I’m like, “Oh, they’re very good together.” When did you realize you guys were going to be really good together?

OLSON: I intimidated him right away, so I felt like this is gonna be a home run.

HARRELSON: She did! It was daunting.

OLSON: And then I just kept belittling him throughout the shoot, and that made me feel better about myself. And then I feel like that came across on screen.

HARRELSON: In fact, you know, the very first scene we shot together was a kind of intense emotional scene, of which there’s a few in the movie or at least a couple, and she just brought her A-game. I was like, “Oh boy, I gotta step up here.” She’s such a great actress, and not just a great actress and emotionally available, but then when you’re in the fun, funny scenes like this – that first scene – no one delivers better than her. I mean other than me, but I probably shouldn’t have said that.

OLSON: It was very fun making him laugh, and he’s a perfect scene partner. I think we actually were having fun together, which I think is always helpful.

HARRELSON: That’s true.

Image via Focus Features

I love learning about the behind-the-scenes of the making of a film, and I’m curious for both of you, what do you think soon-to-be fans of the film would be surprised to learn about the making of Champions?

OLSON: Well, you’ve said several times today, it felt like we were on a playground every day, and it’s so true. We just showed up… I mean, we had so much fun not just making it, but every time we cut, we were on a basketball court, we had all these amazing new friends that we were hanging out with who wanted to know all about us, and we wanted to know all about them. We just were legitimately having a good time.

It also really helps to be shooting a movie away from your hometown. We were in Winnipeg. I wasn’t rushing home to make dinner for my kids. We got to just live there and relax, and just be together and spend time together. Madison [Tevlin] who plays Cosentino had a birthday, and she had the birthday party of the century in a hotel room in Winnipeg. We had so much fun. It was a huge dance party. We just legitimately had such a fun time.

Champions hits theaters on March 10. For more on Harrelson and Olson’s onscreen chemistry and what it was like on set, check out our interview with cast member Cheech Marin below.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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