Actor Bill Murray said the film he was due to play in has been put on hold due to an attempt at humor in which one of the co-stars got it wrong, addressing publicly for the first time an episode that garnered widespread attention.
“I did something I thought was funny, and it wasn’t taken that way,” Murray said in an interview Saturday with Becky Quick on CNBC, during coverage of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting.
Murray, 71, called the episode a “difference of opinion” and did not apologize. While he was limiting his discussion of what happened to generalities and without going into details, he spoke in a tone of inadvertently “insensitive” behavior.
“I haven’t done anything else but think about it for the past week or two,” he said. “The world is different than it was when I was a little kid. What I always thought was funny when I was a little kid is not necessarily the same funny thing now.”
“Being Mortal,” based on the 2014 book of the same title by writer and surgeon Atul Gawande, was produced by Searchlight Pictures, which Murray said is investigating the episode.
Murray was the intended lead for the film, and it also starred Aziz Ansari, who directed and wrote the script. Seth Rogen and Keke Palmer were also starred in the movie.
The episode featuring Murray took place on April 15. Production stopped that day, a staff member on the film told the New York Times on condition of anonymity, because details of the matter were kept confidential.
Murray did not name a female colleague who objected to his behavior, but said they had been in touch and that he was optimistic about resolving the issue.
“We love each other’s work,” he said, “and I think we love each other.” “What makes me happiest is to put my shoes on and we both go back to work.”
Searchlight sent a letter to the cast and crew, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, attributing the suspension of filming to a complaint but did not specify what it was or who made it. The person working on the film said the reason was an allegation of “improper behaviour”.
Known for playing rude but lovable characters in blockbuster comedies such as “Caddyshack” and “Ghostbusters”, Murray is a member of a troupe of actors associated with director Wes Anderson, having pioneered Anderson’s 2004 film, The Aquatic Life with Steve Zissou.
The suspension of filming for “Being Mortal” has drawn attention to previous criticisms of Murray’s behavior during filming.
Actress Lucy Liu described Murray insulting her while filming “Charlie’s Angels” (2000), and actor Richard Dreyfuss said Murray threw an ashtray at him when they worked on “What About Bob?” (1991).
In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Anderson said that Murray developed strong chemistry with a group of fellow actors.
In an interview with CNBC, Murray said, “If we can’t really get along and trust each other, there’s no point in moving on together.” But he added, “I think this is a sad puppy who can’t learn anymore. I don’t want to be that sad dog, and I have no intention of that.”