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Bill Murray On His Biggest Career Regret, Those Persistent ‘Ghostbusters 3’ Rumors, And The Magic Of Chicago

Once in a while it can fun to watch a terrible movie. I like to analyze what went wrong or marvel at the sheer audacity of the filmmaker (such as when the much older Kevin Spacey directed himself as a twenty-something Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea a few years ago). But most of the time a terrible movie is just that: a terrible movie: no irony, nothing of interest, and just plain dull.  That’s what category Garfield falls into. And Bill Murray, who voiced the iconic feline for the 2004 feature, feels the same way. He tells GQ:

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.

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 the hell cut this thing? Who did this? What the fuck was Coen thinking?” And then they explained it to me: It wasn’t written by that Joel Coen.

Consider that a cautionary tale: if you get a script from Steven Spielberg, beware. Of course, none of that explains why Murray signed up for the Garfield sequel, A Tail of Two Kitties, in 2006.  They must’ve cut him a nice check. In the same interview, Murray goes on to dispel the persistent rumors of a Ghostbusters sequel:
It’s all a bunch of crock. It’s a crock. There was a story—and I gotta be careful here, I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. When I hurt someone’s feelings, I really want to hurt them. [laughs] Harold Ramis said, Oh, I’ve got these guys, they write on The Office, and they’re really funny. They’re going to write the next Ghostbusters. And they had just written this movie that he had directed [Year One].
Well, 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. So that dream just vaporized. That was gone. But it’s the studio that really wants this thing. It’s a franchise. It’s a franchise, and they made a whole lot of money on Ghostbusters.
Despite his lack of excitement for the project, Murray doesn’t completely rule it out:
Everywhere I go people are like, “So are you gonna make that movie?” I was down in Austin at South by Southwest, and you go at it hard down there—fun but, man, you need to sleep for days afterwards. Anyhow, I got into it one night with a bunch of younger people who were like, Oh, I love Peter Venkman! I grew up with Peter Venkman! We got to talking, and the more we talked about it, the more I thought, Oh Christ, I should just do this thing.
What’s clear is that Murray, now 59, doesn’t give a shit about Hollywood and has moved far away from L.A. He admits that he is “out of touch” and has trouble keeping up with the projects of his peers. And he even gives a shout out to Chicago when recalling CSPAN’s coverage of election night ’08:
There were no announcers, just Chicago. It was just that crowd in Grant Park, and it was just fuckin’ jazz. You know, it was just wow. And that’s my town, you know? It was just: “Oh, my God, it’s gonna happen! [getting genuinely excited] It’s gonna happen!” You just saw the pictures of it, like, oh, there’s someone from the Northwest Side, there’s someone from the South Side, someone from the suburbs. It was the most truly American thing you’ve ever seen. [pause] Oh God, I get jazzed just thinkin’ about it. I don’t know anyone that wasn’t crying. It was just: Thank God this long national nightmare is over.
Murray’s latest film, Get Low, will be hitting theaters in limited release on July 30. Here’s hoping it’s better than Garfield and Year One.
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