Woody Harrelson Draws Backlash Over COVID-19 Vaccine Conspiracy Theory in 'SNL' Monologue

Woody Harrelson
Will Heath/NBC via Getty Images

During his long and rambling monologue over the weekend, the actor is facing criticism for supposedly sharing anti-vax rhetoric.

Woody Harrelson's fifth time as host on Saturday Night Live isn't being met with a lot of warmth. Many viewers are slamming the actor for his monologue that they felt spread COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy theories.

Fans took to Twitter following Saturday's new episode to call out Harrelson, and Saturday Night Live, for his remarks -- in which he seemingly compared pharmaceutical companies to drug cartels.

In his monologue, Harrelson told a long, intentionally rambling story about how, after he last hosted Saturday Night Live in September 2019, he was given a script to read over.

The bulk of Harrelson's story seemed to revolve around how high he likes to get, but also how he quit smoking pot for a while, and how his manager smuggled pot illegally from Los Angeles to New York. But after countless weed-base tangents, Harrelson got back to his story about the script he was reading, and that's when things got weird.

"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," Harrelson said, "and people can only come out if they take the cartel's drugs and keep taking them over and over."

"I threw the script away! I mean, who was going to believe that crazy idea? Being forced to do drugs?" Harrelson added, to the scattered and awkward laughter. "I do that voluntarily all day!"

The joke has been compared to widespread anti-vax conspiracies spread online throughout the pandemic and since, and sparked a lot of condemnation online -- as well as a lot of support from vocal anti-vaxxers and right-wing political figures.

"It’s such an incredibly selfish & privileged position, the anti-vax, anti-lockdown, covid conspiracy one. Woody Harrelson, & those supporting such bs, are only able to do so because they themselves are ok," one user wrote. "Nobody who suffered or lost loved ones to Covid talks like that."

"It must be confusing being Woody Harrelson, he is a pot smoking, environmentalist, anti corporate, anti vax, vegan, bike riding,  government hating, anarchist. And now republicans love him," another wrote.

However, the support from fans and political figures for Harrelson's remarks -- which many characterized as him "speaking truth to power" -- came out in droves to share their support, and suggest that the backlash itself was evidence of "big pharma" owning the media.

"Most people stopped watching SNL years ago when they went woke, but Woody Harrelson gave their 4 shot sheeple crowd a red pill," one user wrote. 

"Woody Harrelson hosted Saturday Night Live and wow, does he slam the power brokers who forced us to live through the medical tyranny that was the Covid Plandemic," another argued.

Harrelson has long been a candid opponent of mandatory vaccines and drew heat in April 2020 when he reshared conspiracy theories linking 5G to the spread of the coronavirus in a post he subsequently deleted.