To play a tough, scandal-ridden LAPD cop in "Rampart," Woody Harrelson watched a lot of documentaries and did some ride-alongs with real L.A. cops, but he also got some tips from an unlikely source. As Harrelson told Moviefone, none other than Jack Nicholson -- who happens to be something of a mentor as well as a neighbor -- gave him an invaluable "tutorial" on playing the chain-smoking, womanizing character.

"I go and hang out with him over at his house. He lives not far from me, so I just shoot over there on my motorcycle usually, just tooling over on Mulholland to his place, and then sit and just shoot the shit," Harrelson said. "It's just as fun as can be. He does give some good advice."

Like how to handle the paparazzi.

"One cool thing he did," Harrelson recalled, chuckling, "he was going into a liquor store in New York City and while he was in there, next thing you know there's a whole phalanx of paparazzi in and just click-click-click. He just looks at them in shock, because it's not the kind of thing he likes to see, and then he just goes [takes a pretend swig], just drinks from this bottle of whiskey, I guess it was. And the next day, it's all over the New York Post. It was a big picture that went everywhere.

"So I said to him, 'Hold on, dude. Why would you give them that picture?' I look at these guys, as most paparazzi are a pretty low form of... I'm not even sure that they could be called homo sapiens, you might have to confer some other kind of title on them. But, he says to me [doing his best Jack impression], 'Well, Wood. Every actor needs to know how to create a good scandal.'"

As for Nicholson's advice for Harrelson on "Rampart," the three-time Oscar winner did pass along one key bit of knowledge: how to properly smoke a cigarette. A "legal" cigarette, as Harrelson was quick to point out.

"I asked him about it and it's a different thing to smoke a joint or to smoke a cigarette. I asked him how to hold it and he showed me different things, like tapping it and he just gave me a whole tutorial on cigarettes, probably an hour long. It's the kind of thing I wish I could have had a tape of and give to any actor because it's just perfect. He just covered every facet of it. Because he is an actor, one of the greatest of all time, he just happens to know exactly how to communicate it to an actor."

"Rampart," which had an Oscar-qualifying run at the end of 2011, is out in theaters on Feb. 10.
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Based on 35 critics

In 1999, Officer Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson), a 24-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department,... Read More

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