WOODY Harrelson is coming to York on Easter Day.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Hollywood leading light will be in the city this weekend to take part in a question-and-answer session at City Screen immediately after Sunday's 3pm screening of his directorial debut, Lost In London (12A).

"I've never been to York before and I'm really excited to be coming to such an amazing historic place," said 55-year-old Harrelson in a hastily arranged quick interview on the phone on Tuesday afternoon. "I'm really psyched to be going there."

City Screen will be one of only three regional cinemas that the Natural Born Killers, Hunger Games, Cheers and True Detectives actor will be visiting. Why York? "I don't know necessarily why we're coming there but we wanted to go to places with Picturehouse theatres, so we looked at Liverpool and Edinburgh, and I've never been to Yorkshire, and it's like a cool destination to be over the Easter break, so I'm going to just the three cities," he says in his familiar Texan drawl.

Lost In London already has caused a buzz, on account of its ground-breaking concept. Harrelson shot his directorial debut feature film live, in real time, in one take, in central London on January 19 2017 at 2am, broadcasting it live to 500 cinemas across the United States and at three cinemas in London.

Since the live event, the film has been colour graded and the sound has been mixed, and Lost In London will now be released in British cinemas from tomorrow, including York for one screening only on Sunday.

York Press:

Woody Harrelson making his live film Lost In London

"I really love theatre, that's my roots," says Harrelson, explaining his initial inspiration for making a film in one single take, in the manner of Alexander Sokurov's 2002 French historical drama Russian Ark and Sebastian Schipper's 2015 German heist thriller Victoria. "I came out of theatre at high school and got into plays in New York, and hoped to maybe do movies one day, but I have this passion for theatre still, going to plays in New York and London too, because it's live," he says.

"So I had this idea of doing this experience in one evening, blending theatre and film, and I realised I could do it as it was happening, and then this bell went off in my head: if I'm shooting it in real time, why can't we show it simultaneously in real life?

"That's been done before in terms of ballet and plays being shown at cinemas, but this was a new approach: 14 locations, 35 actors, only one camera, working with [cinematographer] Nigel Willoughby.

"We both loved the film Victoria, almost obsessively, and it was a real accomplishment how they pulled it off, but Nigel got off on this thing about the single camera. I resisted, he convinced me; I resisted again; he convinced me, I resisted again, but the third time, he convinced me again and we never went back to the idea of multiple cameras. Nigel was absolutely right, as otherwise it would have broken up the narrative."

York Press:

Owen Wilson: "Why don't you put me in the movie," he asked

Loosely based on one crazy night full of real-life events that happened in Soho in 2002, Lost In London follows Harrelson, playing himself, as he struggles to get home to his family after a scandal threatens to ruin his marriage. Run-ins with royalty, old friends and the law all seem to conspire to keep Harrelson from succeeding, and Harrelson's comic re-staging turns out to be not only funny, charming and ultimately moving, but also proves to be much more than a dazzling technical exercise.

"It was heavily scripted and we did a lot of rehearsing, so it was really like a play in that sense," says Harrelson. "In that time, people would try out stuff that we could put in, and I'm always a big fan of that idea, green-lighting things by what you try out, as I always believe in the inventiveness of actors.

"It was all rehearsed in London, so that was the autobiographical thing, re-creating a night as it really happened, at this club, Chinawhite, when Leo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire were there.

"So I tried to write it with them in the dialogue as it had actually happened, but I just couldn't make it work, so the script was just languishing and then languishing some more, and I just couldn't make it funny. But then I had this idea this of having my old buddy, Owen Wilson, look at it, and we came up with some of the funniest stuff with Owen, who then said, 'why don't you put me in the movie?'."

Wilson's friend, country singer Willie Nelson, duly came on board too, and Lost In London was on its way. Now, Harrelson is looking forward to directing again. "Though I can't imagine doing this live thing again," he says. "It's much harder than I thought, even though people told me it would be, but, to me, movies are not perfect. I do like this film, though there are things I could alter, dialogue I could change, but it's cool because it captures a moment in time, like a sidewalk painting."

Lost In London will be shown at City Screen, York, on Sunday at 3pm, followed by a Q and A with director Woody Harrelson.