'This guy is down-to-earth': Bear Clan patrol member shares experience with Woody Harrelson in Winnipeg
A security assignment at a church in Winnipeg turned into a chance celebrity encounter with Academy Award nominee Woody Harrelson.
Michael Thiessen jumped at the opportunity to volunteer for a security and community relations job during a movie shoot in Winnipeg’s Point Douglas neighbourhood.
“He told me the address, 137 Euclid, and I’m going like, well that’s the church my parents help build, so I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll definitely do that,’” said Thiessen.
The Bear Clan, a community group that operates in Winnipeg, was hired for the movie “Champions” to act as a liaison between the community and the production staff to minimize any potential disruptions.
It was during the post-shoot debriefing near Harrelson’s trailer that the actor made his appearance.
“We were just standing there talking, and there were community members going like, ‘Can we take pictures with Woody?’ and I said, ‘I don’t think so unless he gives the OK’ and then Woody comes out of the bus and comes and sees us and says, ‘Hey guys, you want a picture?’” said Thiessen.
It wasn’t just a group picture either. Harrelson took the time to take individual photos as well as spending time talking to people.
“This guy is down-to-earth,” said Thiessen. “He’s concerned with people, with what’s going on out on the streets. There’s nothing pretentious about him.”
Thiessen discussed his role with the Bear Clan, what the organization does, and even offered up an invitation to participate in one of their patrols. However, Thiessen said he’s not sure if that went any further than talk.
This was the first movie shoot Thiessen has been involved with through the Bear Clan, but it’s not the first movie shoot the Bear Clan has provided services.
Bear Clan executive director Kevin Walker said they started providing services to the movie industry in recent years. It began with the movie 'Burden of Proof' and has grown since then.
“I think it’s important that we are able to engage with the community rather than (be) security,” said Walker. “We have a way of approaching people and dealing with people with pretty good rapport. I think it’s just an easier way on the whole community as well if we are all involved.”
Walker said for the most part, his members and the movie actors don’t interact out of respect for what they do, but if the actors choose to mingle, it is a different story.
“I look at all the movie things that we’ve gone through and done, and it’s a great experience for our volunteers to have that opportunity and get that opportunity to meet famous people,” Walker said.
This isn’t the only Harrelson encounter during his stint in Winnipeg. On November 9, Marie Manitopyes met Harrelson in Point Douglas after she went to pick up her grandson and his friend. She also got a picture with the actor.
As for Thiessen, meeting Harrelson was a highlight now immortalized in a picture, but more so it was an opportunity to serve the community differently.
“We’re making a difference. The community trusts us,” said Thiessen.
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