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Incoming! Bill Murray unloads on some of his least favorite comics... and 'Garfield'

Bill_murray You may remember that a couple of months ago everyone was in a tizzy over a couple of young Hollywood actors who had the nerve, yes, the nerve to complain about the overbearing filmmakers they'd worked with--Megan Fox actually compared Michael Bay to Hitler--and the crummy movies they'd starred in. Shia LaBeouf got the worst of it for having the temerity to gently chide Steven Spielberg and his screenwriters for making the less-than-thrilling "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Actually, all LaBeuof said was "when you drop the ball, you drop the ball," which seems far less harsh than what millions of fans were saying when they left the theater.

I have no problem with stars voicing their regrets, since at least for me it's really not so bad to let your fans know that you know the difference between a swan and a turkey, even if it was Lord Spielberg who was directing the turkey. I suspect that what bugged people was that Fox and LaBeouf haven't paid enough dues to be so forthright, since no one has ever taken Michael Caine or Peter O'Toole to the woodshed for acknowledging all the stinkers they've taken a paycheck for over the years.

If anyone knows how to really talk trash, it's clearly Bill Murray, who has a grand old time talking to GQ's Dan Fierman about how on earth he ended up doing the voice of the comic strip cat in the oh-so-awful "Garfield: The Movie." As a way of clearing his throat, Murray took a few swipes at his comic peers, mischievously explaining how he'd resisted being wooed by Judd Apatow ("The only Apatow movie I ever saw was 'Celtic Pride.' ... It's just brutal! Totally brutal"), why's he's still unimpressed by Larry David ("I never saw 'Seinfeld' until the final episode and that's the only one I saw. And it was terrible. I'm watching, thinking, 'This isn't funny at all. It's terrible.' ") and even dissing his old "Ghostbusters' costar Harold Ramis ("I never went to see 'Year One,' but people who did, including other Ghostbusters, said it was one of the worst things they had ever seen in their lives").

Ouch!  

After getting that off his chest, Murray fessed up about "Garfield," which, to help you understand Murray's sly humor better, was co-written by Joel Cohen, who also wrote "Cheaper by the Dozen." Here's a slightly condensed version of his account:

GQ: Okay. Well, how about Garfield? Can you explain that to me? Did you just do it for the dough?

Murray: No! I didn't make that for the dough! Well, not completely. I thought it would be kind of fun, because doing a voice is challenging, and I'd never done that. Plus, I looked at the script, and it said, "So-and-so and Joel Coen." And I thought: Christ, well, I love those Coens! They're funny. So I sorta read a few pages of it and thought, Yeah, I'd like to do that. I had these agents at the time, and I said, "What do they give you to do one of these things?" And they said, "Oh, they give you $50,000." So I said, "Okay, well, I don't even leave the [expletive] driveway for that kind of money."

GQ: And it's not like you're helping out an indie director by playing Garfield.

Murray: Exactly. He's in 3,000 newspapers every day; he's not hurtin'. Then this studio guy calls me up out of nowhere, and I had a nice conversation with him. And my agents called on Monday and said, "Well, they came back with another offer, and it was nowhere near $50,000." And I said, "That's more befitting of the work I expect to do!" So they went off and shot the movie, and I forgot all about it. Finally, I went out to L.A. to record my lines. And usually when you're looping a movie, if it takes two days, that's a lot. I don't know if I should even tell this story, because it's kind of mean. [beat] What the hell? It's interesting. So I worked all day and kept going, "That's the line? Well, I can't say that." And you sit there and go, What can I say that will make this funny? And make it make sense? And I worked. I was exhausted, soaked with sweat, and the lines got worse and worse. And I said, "Okay, you better show me the whole rest of the movie, so we can see what we're dealing with." So I sat down and watched the whole thing, and I kept saying, "Who did this? What the [heck] was Coen thinking?" And then they explained it to me: It wasn't written by that Joel Coen.

GQ: And the pieces fall into place.

Murray: At least they had [Jennifer Love Hewitt] in good-looking clothes. Best thing about the movie. But that's all ugly. That's inappropriate. That's just… [laughs] That's why, when they say, "Any regrets?" at the end of Zombieland, I say, "Well, maybe Garfield."

RECENT AND RELATED: SHOULD SHIA LABEOUF KEEP HIS MOUTH SHUT ABOUT 'INDIANA JONES'?

Photo: Bill Murray in a scene from the upcoming film "Get Low." Credit: Sam Emerson / Sony Pictures Classics

 

 
Comments () | Archives (10)

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so if mistaking joel cohen for joel coen explains the first garfield movie, how does he explain the sequel? did he fall for it again?

God I love Bill Murray. The funny thing is, when I was a kid, I always thought it was Mr. Murray doing the voice of Garfield in the cartoons. Of course that was the late, great Lorenzo Music. But what's great about Bill Murray is you know that he's an a-hole, but that doesn't make him a bad guy or unlikable. Honesty is quite respectable.

Bill Murray was paid one million dollars to voice the first installment (out of a budget of about $41M). He initially refused to leave New York and they had to record the first performance there. The movie was already in production when the deal was made, but his name gave it some credibility (if that matters with a young target demographic). Still, it seems like quite reasonable payday for a few days creative work in a nice comfortable studio. Did he not bother to read the draft scripts, look at a preview animatic or have his people research the writers? It does seem very childish for someone with his experience to jump into a project based on a hunch, take all that money and then complain, in public. Please, either reject the role outright, or take the money and support the producers. Movies are difficult to make (even the bad ones) and the real hard work, time and financial risk are almost entirely borne by the film-makers, and not the voice talent.

Great. An aging 'comedian' whining about other comedians. Bill Murray is mildly funny, and when I say that, I'm being generous. He had a few funny things, but it's over.

he did the second cause the first sucked so bad he figured .... eehhh screw it =}

Bill Murray was paid one million dollars to voice the first installment (out of a budget of about $41M). He initially refused to leave New York and they had to record the first performance there. The movie was already in production when the deal was made, but his name gave it some credibility (if that matters with a young target demographic). Still, it seems like quite reasonable payday for a few days creative work in a nice comfortable studio. Did he not bother to read the draft scripts, look at a preview animatic or have his people research the writers? It does seem very childish for someone with his experience to jump into a project based on a whim, take all that money and then complain, in public. Please, either reject the role outright, or take the money and support the producers. Movies are difficult to make (even the bad ones) and the real hard work, time spent and financial risk are almost entirely borne by the film-makers, and not by the voice talent.

Well, we appreciate the honesty. But as a fan from way back it is difficult to distinguish Bill Murray the comedian from the Bill Murray you interviewed.

I like Bill Murray too, but he really is a jackass. He only saw the last episode of Seinfeld, so he dismisses the entire 8 years of the show and Larry DAvid as unfunny? Where was he for 8 years the show was on? Watching reruns of Saturday Night Live?

I do like him though.

It's usually younger actors who don't read the scripts because their agents are telling them to do it or else. Murray should know better. But if you think that most producers or studios know a good script when they see one...I got some farmland I'd like to sell you...

Murray! You magnificent bast ard!


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