At the end of April, Searchlight Pictures halted production on upcoming film Being Mortal after a complaint was made against Bill Murray.
Talking to news outlets, Murray has said that he “did something I thought was funny and it wasn’t taken that way”.
It’s not known whether the release of Being Mortal, based on the nonfiction book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande, set to debut in 2023, will be affected by this suspension in production.
This is what you need to know.
Why has Being Mortal film production been suspended?
Being Mortal, which is set to mark Aziz Ansari’s (Master of None, Parks and Recreation) directorial debut, has been halted due to a complaint made against actor Bill Murray for inappropriate behaviour.
According to a letter sent to cast and crew members, and shared with US media outlets, Searchlight “immediately” investigated the complaint and decided that the production “cannot continue at this time.”
Per Vanity Fair, the letter said: “Late last week we were made aware of a complaint, and we immediately looked into it.
“After reviewing the circumstances, it has been decided that production cannot continue at this time.
“We are truly grateful to all of you for everything you’ve put into this project. Our hope is to resume production and are working with Aziz and [producer] Youree [Henley] to figure out timing.”
Deadline has reported that the complaint was filed last week, with production coming to a stop on Monday (18 April).
What did Bill Murray say?
The exact details of what happened or what Murray might have said or done have not been revealed.
After initially staying quiet about the situation, Murray has confirmed that it was his behaviour on the set of Being Mortal that led to production being shut down.
Speaking to CNBC, the 71-year-old actor said that filming drew to a halt because of a “difference of opinion”, but didn’t offer any more information about what happened.
He said: “I did something I thought was funny and it wasn’t taken that way.
“The movie studio wanted to do the right thing so they wanted to check it all out, investigate it and so they stopped production.”
He added that he had been talking through it with the unnamed woman in question who raised the complaint and “trying to make the peace”, but did not comment on when, or even if, production would resume.
Murray said: “We’re both professionals. We like each other’s work. We like each other I think and if you can’t really get along and trust each other, there’s no point in going further working together or making a movie as well.”
He also spoke about the nature of how things once thought to be appropriate have evolved.
“It’s been quite an education for me,” He said. “The world is different than it was when I was a little kid.
“What I always thought was funny as a little kid isn’t necessarily the same as what’s funny now. Things change and the times change so it’s important for me to figure it out.
“I think it’s a sad dog that can’t learn anymore. I don’t want to be that sad dog and I have no intention of it.”
What did Lucy Liu say about Bill Murray last year?
Last year, Lucy Liu (Elementary, Kill Bill) spoke about an altercation she had with Murray on the set of the 2000’s film Charlie’s Angels.
Talking on the podcast Asian Enough, hosted by Johana Bhuiyan, Tracy Brown, Suhauna Hussain and Jen Yamato, Lui said that the incident came about during a scene which had been changed in rehearsals without Murray’s knowledge.
She said: “We had taken the weekend to rework that particular scene and Bill Murray was not able to come because he had to attend some family gathering.
“So it was everyone else, and we just made the scene more fluid.
“I wish I had more to do with [the rewrite], but I didn’t. Because I was the last one cast, and I probably had the least amount of privilege, in terms of creatively participating at that time.”
Liu didn’t reveal specifically what Murray said, but shared that the actor started “to sort of hurl insults” at her after he found out about the rewrites.
She said: “I was, like, “Wow, he seems like he’s looking straight at me.” I couldn’t believe that [his comments] could be towards me, because what do I have to do with anything majorly important at that time?
“I say, “I’m so sorry. Are you talking to me?”, and clearly he was, because then it started to become a one-on-one communication.”
Liu described the language that Murray used at the time as “inexcusable and unacceptable”.
She added: “I stood up for myself, and I don’t regret it. Because no matter how low on the totem pole you may be or wherever you came from, there’s no need to condescend or to put other people down.”
She went on to say that she has “nothing against” Murray and said: “I’ve seen him since then at an SNL reunion, and he came up to me and was perfectly nice.
“But I’m not going to sit there and be attacked.”
What else has been said about Bill Murray?
Throughout the course of his career, Murray has had a number of feuds with fellow co-stars, directors and producers.
Regarding his infamous mood swings, Ghostbusters star Dan Aykroyd even nicknamed Murray as “The Murricane”.
Actor Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), who starred alongside Murray in the 1991 film What About Bob, said that he was a “drunken bully”.
In a 2019 interview with Yahoo, Dreyfuss said: “He came back from dinner [one night] and I said, “Read this [script tweak], I think it’s really funny.”
“And he put his face next to me, nose-to-nose. And he screamed at the top of his lungs, “Everyone hates you! You are tolerated!” There was no time to react, because he leaned back and he took a modern glass-blown ashtray.
“He threw it at my face from [a couple feet away]. And it weighed about three quarters of a pound. And he missed me. He tried to hit me. I got up and left.”
Charlie’s Angels director Joseph McGinty Nichol alleged in a 2009 interview with the Guardian that Murray headbutted him.
He said: “Square in the head. An inch later and my nose would have been obliterated.”
Murray however has denied that such an act took place.
Speaking about his reputation in 2018, Murray said: “I remember a friend said to me a while back: “You have a reputation.” and I said: “What?” and he said: “Yeah, you have a reputation of being difficult to work with”.
“But I only got that reputation from people I didn’t like working with, or people who didn’t know how to work, or what work is.”