In 2009’s Zombieland, Bill Murray joked that he only had one career regret: Garfield, the 2004 live-action adaptation of Jim Davis’ misanthropic feline. But in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) the comedian and actor participated in on Friday to promote his upcoming film The Monuments Men, Murray revealed that there might have been some truth in one of that film’s best punch lines.
“I had a hilarious experience with Garfield,” Murray revealed when asked if there would be a Garfield 3. “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,” he admitted. “I love the Coen brothers movies. I think that Joel Coen is a wonderful comedic mind.”
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After mistaking writer Joel Cohen for one of the illustrious Coen brothers (Raising Arizona, No Country For Old Men), Murray said that he struggled to get through the recording process. Specifically, the demands of the prerecorded footage hamstrung his ability to make the character as funny as he thought he could be.
“This was an odd movie because the live footage had been shot, but the cat was still this gray blob onscreen,” he explained. “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… 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.
“The other characters are already speaking these lines,” he observed. “And you’re kind of in this endgame of ‘how do I chess piece myself out of this one?’”
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Murray talked about a variety of subjects during his AMA, offering his thoughts about everything from favorite working experiences to fan encounters to marijuana legalization. For example, his feelings about advertising:
“I don’t know if brands should be more like Bill Murray, but there’s no question they should suck less. I think if you just hold that thought in front of yourself, like a marching brand trumpet player has the music mounted on his trumpet, about how to make ads suck less, then that will inform your daily life… Ads aren’t bad in themselves. It’s just the attitude. We all have to go to the store, we all have to have groceries, but there’s a way to sell you things to make the exchange more of a human one.”
What person in history Murray would most like to meet:
“Albert Einstein was a pretty cool guy. The thing about Einstein was that he was a theoretical physicist, so they were all theories. He was just a smart guy. I’m kind of interested in genetics though. I think I would have liked to have met Gregor Mendel… Because he was a monk who just sort of figured this stuff out on his own. That’s a higher mind, that’s a mind that’s connected.”
The movie Murray said was most fun for him to act in:
“Well, I did a film with Jim Jarmusch called Broken Flowers, but I really enjoyed that movie. He asked me if I could do a movie, and I said “I gotta stay home, but if you make a movie that I could shoot within one hour of my house, I’ll do it… So he found those locations. And I did the movie.”
On the subject of recreational marijuana:
“People are realizing that the war on drugs is a failure,” he said. “I think the terror of marijuana was probably overstated… 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. 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.”
Murray’s favorite experiences with fans:
“It happens sometimes where someone will say ‘I was going through a really hard time. I was going through a really hard time, and I was just morose or depressed.’ …and if it’s just a moment when you can reverse a movement, an emotion, a downward spiral, when you can quiet something or still something and just allow it to change and allow the real spirit rise up in someone, that feels great.
“I know I’m not saving the world, but something in what I’ve learned how to do or the stories that I’ve tried to tell, they’re some sort of representation of how life is or how life could be. And that gives some sort of optimism. And an optimistic attitude is a successful attitude.”
And finally, what was it that he whispered in Scarlett Johansson’s ear at the end of Lost in Translation?
“You know? I forget.”
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