Bill Murray is an undeniable comedy legend. According to a bunch of disturbing stories emerging about him in recent days, weeks and months, he might also be an all-time terrible co-worker.
The floodgates seemed to have opened following new revelations about what went down on the set of Aziz Ansari’s directorial debut Being Mortal, which had its production shut down earlier this year after Murray allegedly sexually harassed a member of the production staff. The “much younger” woman reportedly received north of $100,000 in a settlement from Murray, who sources say got on top of her and started kissing her through their masks in what he considered to be a funny joke and she obviously did not.
“What I always thought was funny as a little kid isn’t necessarily the same as what’s funny now,” Murray said in an interview at the time. “Things change and the times change so it’s important for me to figure it out.”
But if the below stories from his co-stars and other celebrities who he interacted with over the years backstage at Saturday Night Live and elsewhere are to be believed, he has been making people uncomfortable for quite a long time. Dan Aykroyd didn’t nickname him “The Murricane” for no good reason.
Geena Davis: ‘I Should Have Walked Out’
In her new memoir Dying of Politeness, Geena Davis recalls the traumatizing experience of working with Murray on 1990’s Quick Change, including his insistence on using an electric massager called the “Thumper” on her during their very first meeting in a hotel suite for what was ostensibly her audition and later screamed at her for supposedly being late in front of the entire cast and crew.
“That was bad,” Davis told The Times (London). “The way he behaved at the first meeting… I should have walked out of that or profoundly defended myself, in which case I wouldn’t have got the part. I could have avoided that treatment if I’d known how to react or what to do during the audition. But, you know, I was so non-confrontational that I just didn’t…”
Rob Schneider: ‘He Hated Us’
“You don’t know who you’re gonna get, which Bill Murray you’re gonna get,” SNL alum Rob Schneider said this week on SiriusXM’s Jim Norton & Sam Roberts. “The nice Bill Murray? Or you’re gonna get the tough Bill Murray?” He recalled the awful experience of being in the cast when Murray hosted around the release of Groundhog Day in 1993. “He’s super nice to fans. He wasn’t very nice to us,” Schneider said. “He hated us on Saturday Night Live when he hosted. Absolutely hated us. I mean, seething.”
“He hated Chris Farley with a passion,” Schneider continued. “Like he was just seething looking at him. I don’t know exactly [why], but I want to believe that it’s because Chris thought it was cool to be [John] Belushi—who [was] his friend who he saw die—that he thought it was cool to be that out of control. That’s my interpretation, but I don’t really know.”
“You just saw the way he looked at [Farley], and it was just naked rage, you know?” he said later. “I mean, he hated [Adam] Sandler. Really hated Sandler, too.” Schneider also said that the “least of the hate was to me,” adding, “I took great pleasure in that he hated me less, because he’s my hero.”
Seth Green: ‘I Was Horrified’
Actor Seth Green was just 9 years old when he said he encountered Murray’s wrath. It was also backstage at SNL, where the young Green was making a guest spot, that he remembered Murray “made a big fuss” about him sitting in his seat. “And I was like, ‘That is absurd. I am sitting on the arm of this couch. There are several lengths of this sofa. Kindly eff off,’” Green said. “And he was like, ‘That’s my chair.’”
When Green stubbornly refused to get up, he said Murray “picked me up by my ankles, held me upside down… dangled me over a trash can and he was like, ‘The trash goes in the trash can.’ And I was screaming, and I swung my arms, flailed wildly, full contact with his balls. He dropped me in the trash can, the trash can falls over. I was horrified. I ran away, hid under the table in my dressing room and just cried.”
Lucy Liu: ‘I Stood Up for Myself, and I Don’t Regret It’
Last summer, Lucy Liu opened up about her confrontation with Murray on the set of their 2000 film Charlie’s Angels during an episode of the Los Angeles Times’ Asian Enough podcast. “As we’re doing the scene, Bill starts to sort of hurl insults, and I won’t get into the specifics, but it kept going on and on. I was, like, ‘Wow, he seems like he’s looking straight at me,’” Liu recalled. “I couldn’t believe that [the comments] could be towards me, because what do I have to do with anything majorly important at that time? I literally do the look around my shoulder thing, like, who is he talking to behind me? 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.”
“Some of the language was inexcusable and unacceptable, and I was not going to just sit there and take it,” she continued. “So, yes, 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. And I would not stand down, and nor should I have.
Despite their on-set fight, Liu said she has “nothing against Bill Murray at all” and was “perfectly nice” when they ran into each other years later at an SNL reunion. “But I’m not going to sit there and be attacked.”
Anjelica Huston: ‘He Was a Shit to Me’
Despite both being essential parts of Wes Anderson’s ever-evolving ensemble, Anjelica Huston and Murray did not get along on set. “He was a shit to me on Life Aquatic,” she told Vulture a few years ago. “The first week I was there, we were all in this little hotel, and he invited the entire cast to go and have dinner, except me. And everyone came down for dinner, a little dog-faced about my not being invited, and they were all like, “Oh, you know, we don’t really want to go.” That was worse than anything.
She added, “I was really hurt. And then I think we met again in Florence, because that movie was shot all over Italy, and we were doing a scene at Gore Vidal’s house in Ravello, and he said, ‘Hey, how’ve you been? I missed you.’ I said, ‘You’re full of shit. You didn’t miss me.’ He looked all confused for a moment. He’s been a little nicer to me since. He showed up at my husband’s funeral. He couldn’t have been nicer that day. He showed up. A lot of people didn’t.”
Lorne Michaels: ‘They Got Into a Fight’
In a recent appearance on Dana Carvey and David Spade’s Fly on the Wall podcast, SNL producer Lorne Michaels confirmed the long-held rumor that Murray and Chevy Chase got into a fist fight backstage during the show’s second season. “They got into a fight. And John [Belushi] provoked it a little bit,” Michaels said. “It was probably my mistake because I was bringing Chevy back to host but it was just a season and a half after he left, but it just made sense. They got into a skirmish in front of the page desk, and then Chevy had to go out and do the monologue.”
Given Chase’s own controversial past, however, it’s hard to know whether Murray was really to blame for this one.
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