With the promo ramping up for his upcoming movie with George Clooney, The Monuments Men, Bill Murray hopped on Reddit for yet another celebrity AMA. As expected, the questions were great, his answers, even greater. Here are a few highlights:
On why he thinks the previous Saturday Night Live cast was the best since the original:
They're good. I don't know them as well as I knew the previous one. But i really feel like the previous cast, that was the best group since the original group. They were my favorite group. Some really talented people that were all comedians of some kind or another. You think about Dana Carvey, Will, Hartman, all these wonderful funny guys. But the last group with Kristen Wiig and those characters, they were a bunch of actors and their stuff was just different. It's all about the writing, the writing is such a challenge and you are trying to write backwards to fit 90 minutes between dress rehearsal and the airing. And sometimes the writers don't get the whole thing figured out, it's not like a play where you can rehearse it several times. So good actors - and those were really good actors, and there are some great actors in this current group as well I might add - they seem to be able to solve writing problems, improvisational actors, can solve them on their feet. They can solve it during the performance, and make a scene work. It's not like we were improvising when we made the shows, but you could feel ways to make things better. And when you get into the third dimension, as opposed to the printed page, you can see ways to solve things and write things live that other sorts of professionals don't necessarily have. And that's why I like that previous group. So this group, there are definitely some actors in this group, I see them working in the same way and making scenes go. They really roll very nicely, they have great momentum, and it seems like they are calm in the moment. Does that make sense?
On Groudnhog Day's unique script and filming process, and how it was greatly underrated at the time:
Well, that part was fine, the filming of the scenes over and over because you know that's what the story is. The scripts is one of the greatest conceptual scripts I've ever seen. It's a script that was so unique, so original, and yet it got not acclaim. To me it was no question that it was the greatest script of the year. To this day people are talking about it, but they forget no one paid any attention to it at the time. The execution of the script, there were great people in it. It was a difficult movie to shoot because we shot in winter outdoors. If you ever get to go to Puxatawney, you should go, it is one of the few things that is BETTER than advertised. It's really something to see. But doing the movie, shooting the scenes over and over, it's like an acting challenge. It's like doing a play and those same scenes over and over and again, so you can try to make it better or deeper or funnier than you made it previously.
Then there's his hilarious explanation of what made him choose to do Garfield and the hellish experience he had making both movies: he thought screenwriter Joel Cohen was actually Joel Coen:
Someone asked "will there be a Garfield 3?"
I don't think so. I had a hilarious experience with Garfield. I only read a few pages of it, and I kind of wanted to do a cartoon movie, because I had looked at the screenplay and it said "Joel Cohen" on it.
And I wasn't thinking clearly, but it was spelled Cohen, not Coen.
I love the Coen brothers movies. I think that Joel Coen is a wonderful comedic mind.
So I didn't really bother to finish the script, I thought "he's great, I'll do it." So then it was months before i got around to actually doing it, and I remember i had to go to a screening room in somewhere, and watch the movie and start working. And because they had had trouble contacting me, they asked my friend Bobby to help corral the whole situation together. So Bobby was there, and you know when you're looping a movie you're rerecording to a picture?
So this was an odd movie because the live footage had been shot, but the cat was still this gray blob onscreen. So I start working with this script and I'm supposed to start re-recording and thinking "I can do a funnier line than that" so I would start changing the dialogue that was written for the cat. Which kind of works, it sort of generally works, but then you realize the cat's over here in a corner sitting on a counter, and I'm trying to think how I can make it make sense. So the other characters are already speaking these lines, and so I'm going "did he really say THAT?" and you're kind of in this endgame of "how do I chess piece myself out of this one?"
So I worked like that with this gray blob and these lines that were already written, trying to unpaint myself out of a corner. I think I worked 6 or 7 hours for one reel? No, 8 hours. And that was for 10 minutes. And we managed to change and affect a great deal.
The next day I came into work and the producer gave me a set of golf clubs, and I thought "that was kind of extreme, especially since I can't go play." And the second reel was even HARDER because the complications of the first ten minutes were triangulated. It was really hard to write my way out of that one. And there were all these people on the other side of the recording studio, and at the end of the reel I was SOAKED In perspiration. I had drunk as much coffee as any columbian ever drank, and I said "you better just show me the rest of the movie." And they showed me the rest of the movie, and there was just this long, 2 minute silence.
And I probably cursed a little, and I said "I can fix this, but I can't fix this today. Or this week. Who wrote this stuff?"
And it appeared that one of the people behind the screen was the misspelled Joel Cohen. And I said "how could you have THAT scene take place before this scene? This can't possibly happen? Who edited this thing?"
And another person behind the glass was the editor of the film. He quit the film that week to go work on another job, so that began a long process of working on the film. I worked the rest of the week on it, and I said "Bobby it is still nowhere near done. But I can't fix it all, we have to try to do this again."
It was sort of like Fantastic Mr Fox without the joy or the fun. We did it twice in California, and once in Italy when I was working on the life Aquatic, we were working on an INSANE place in Italy, with a woman who was a voice from above interrupting everything, I cursed again, and she left to take another job, and that was just the first once.
And we managed to fix it, sort of. It was a big financial success. And I said "just promise me, you'll never do that again." That you'll never shoot the footage without telling me.
And they proceeded to do it again. And the next time, they had been shooting for 5 weeks. And I cursed again. I said "I just asked for one little thing, letting me know." and that one was EVEN HARDER. The second one was beyond rescue, there were too many crazy people involved with it. And I thought I fixed the movie, but the insane director who had formerly done some Spongebob, he would leave me and say "I gotta go, I have a meeting" and he was going to the studio where someone was telling him what it should be, countermanding what I was doing.
They made a movie after that second miscarriage, that went directly to video. So they sort of shot themselves in the foot, the kidneys, the liver and the pancreas on the second one. If you had a finer mind working on them? The girl, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, she was sweet. In the second movie they dressed her like a homeless person. You knew it wasn't gonna go well.
He also weighed in on legalizing marijuana:
Well that's a large question, isn't it? Because you're talking about recreation, which everyone is in favor of. You are also talking about something that has been illegal for so many years, and marijuana is responsible for such a large part of the prison population, for the crime of self-medication. And it takes millions and billions of dollars by incarcerating people for this crime against oneself as best can be determined. People are realizing that the war on drugs is a failure, that the amount of money spent, you could have bought all the drugs with that much money rather than create this army of people and incarcerated people. I think the terror of marijuana was probably overstated. I don't think people are really concerned about it the way they once were. Now that we have crack and crystal and whatnot, people don't even think about marijuana anymore, it's like someone watching too many videogames in comparison. The fact that states are passing laws allowing it means that its threat has been over-exagerated. Psychologists recommend smoking marijuana rather than drinking if you are in a stressful situation. These are ancient remedies, alcohol and smoking, and they only started passing laws against them 100 years ago.
And just what did he whisper in Scarlett Johansson's ear in Lost in Translation?
You know? I forget.
Head over to Reddit to read the entire exchange. It's worth your time.