Reminder: Bill Murray Once Threw A Female Producer In A Lake
Bad news for fans of comedy movies somehow based on non-fiction medical books: production of Aziz Ansari's Being Mortal has been halted as the studio looks into a complaint filed against one of the stars, Bill Murray. According to Deadline, Murray has been accused of "inappropriate behavior," to the shock of his fans ... who have never made it to the "Personal life" section of his Wikipedia page, anyway. Let's just say that people who are good at personal relations don't have a lengthy "Feuds" section in their biographies.
Sadly, accusations like these are nothing new for Hollywood's most revered comedy deity -- for one thing, his ex-wife accused him of domestic abuse. It's unclear if the alleged abuse included any headbutting, which is what Charlie's Angels director McG accused Murray of in 2009 before shrugging it off with a "Y'know, it's a passionate industry." But the wildest charge against Murray involves What About Bob?, that movie where he makes Jaws star Richard Dreyfuss more afraid for his life than any giant shark ever could:
As it happens, the same thing applied behind the scenes, only it was significantly less whimsical. Dreyfuss described Murray as "an Irish drunken bully" who seemed to go out of his way to get on his nerves and once threw an ashtray at his face from a couple of feet away after yelling, "Everyone hates you! You are tolerated!" Murray later told Howard Stern that he "kind of got to enjoy" annoying Dreyfuss in the movie but claimed he wasn't intentionally trying to do it off-screen. He also said, "I mean, I drove him nuts, and he encouraged me to drive him nuts," but it doesn't sound like Dreyfuss was aware of his part of that arrangement.
Dreyfuss got off considerably better than the movie's producer, the late Laura Ziskin, a woman so beloved in Hollywood that there's an achievement award named after her. According to Ziskin, while making What About Bob? she and Murray got into a disagreement that led him toss her into a lake -- "playfully," she added. We're not sure what constitutes a "playful" lake toss in a professional setting, but that wasn't all: "Bill also threatened to throw me across the parking lot and then broke my sunglasses and threw them across the parking lot." This left her "furious and outraged," but she reiterated that this was not "common behavior" in movies (not starring Bill Murray, anyway).
In short, it sounds like that viral trailer that recuts What About Bob? as a stalker thriller is a way more accurate depiction of the behind-the-scenes experience than the real one. Disney should consider re-releasing the film like this (and not stiff Dreyfuss on the checks this time -- he more than that earned that money).
Top image: Gordon Correll/Wikimedia Commons, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution