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May 26, 1999 12:00 AM

Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson and Nick Nolte had to do something to break the tension while shooting the World War II movie “The Thin Red Line.” New York’s Daily News reports their pranks started when Harrelson lined Penn’s military helmet with pre-chewed bubblegum. Penn then had 2,500 posters printed and distributed declaring “Woody Harrelson Day.” The locals in Australia turned out for the event, but Harrelson didn’t. The News says Nolte got in on the act by making a late-night call to Penn saying he was in jail and needed to be bailed out. When Penn arrived, finding Nolte handcuffed and crying “help,” he heard a gunshot and was confronted by a jailer pointing a weapon. Harrelson appeared from the sidelines — the director of the carefully choreographed prank.

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