The allegations of Bill Murray‘s “inappropriate behavior” were enough to shut down a movie set back in April — but somehow the details have managed to stay under wraps… until now anyway.
For a refresher, the comedy legend was co-starring in a movie called Being Mortal with Seth Rogen and the coincidentally controversial Aziz Ansari. After a complaint was filed against Murray, Searchlight Pictures (now owned by Disney) didn’t take any chances and shut the whole production down. But we had no idea why!
There was a lot of speculation whatever happened was with co-star Keke Palmer! This was mostly because of a post she shared on Instagram just a few days beforehand in which she referenced “having a bad day” and “trauma responses” — as well as pointing out “not every talented person is a professional.” Yeah…
But apparently she was not the person to file the complaint. According to a report from Puck, it was a young female crew member the 72-year-old had become “particularly friendly” with — and he believed she was flirting with him. The incident occurred when the two were by a bed being used in a scene. According to the report, both Murray and the young woman were fully clothed — and fully masked up per COVID guidelines — when the SNL alum grabbed her and began “kissing” her body (with his mask still on) and “straddling” her on the bed.
The comic has maintained his actions were meant to be funny. He told CNBC back in May:
“I did something I thought was funny, and it wasn’t taken that way… You know, 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.”
The young woman reportedly did not find anything funny about it. Rather than seeing it as Murray doing a bit she took the entire thing as a sexual advance. Not only that, she was pinned beneath his weight and unable to fight him off. According to the report:
“She was horrified.”
She filed her complaint and was backed by a witness, another member of the production who saw the whole thing go down and also reported it.
The Oscar nominee said the investigation was “quite an education” for him. Hmm. More on that later…
He also said he was “optimistic” the parties would come to an understanding and make peace. Well, according to Puck, that peace came in the form of a secret monetary settlement! Bill shelled out “just north of $100,000” to the woman, according to the entertainment gossip outlet. That money bought a non-disclosure agreement, naturally — but Puck‘s Eriq Gardner says his inside sources tell him the woman also had to waive any right to further legal action against the film’s producers, Disney, and Searchlight. Seems like they were pretty thorough in covering their butts before going back into production… Though actually it’s unclear if the film will continue. Maybe the studio is worried about the taint of the scandal. Heck, even this report getting out is probably hurting the chances.
Let’s get back to Murray’s comments about this being an education for him. As beloved as he is, it’s hardly the first time he’s gotten into a disagreement with a co-worker. He’s had notoriously bad fallouts with Richard Dreyfuss, Harold Ramis, and Lucy Liu. And let’s also not pretend the idea of Bill Murray invading a woman’s personal space is a shock. Heck, half the time he was applauded for it as his characters in ’80s movies like Meatballs and Stripes were inappropriate with women — it’s always been part of his whole persona. Unfortunately that continued offscreen as well, when the women weren’t scripted to secretly enjoy it.
Coincidentally on the same day this report finally got out, one more incident of harassment was revealed, one that happened over three decades ago. Geena Davis wrote a memoir called Dying of Politeness which was published on Tuesday. On Monday an anecdote about working with Bill Murray on the 1990 comedy Quick Change, which he starred in and co-directed, was previewed — and it’s not a flattering story. She says during their first meeting for her audition (in a hotel room btw) the comic “insisted” on using a massage device called “The Thumper” on her, as she tried to escape. Whether he was being silly or sexual, the result was the same — he was invading a woman’s space as she loudly protested. She wrote:
“I said no multiple times, but he wouldn’t relent. I would have had to yell at him and cause a scene if I was to get him to give up trying to force me to do it; the other men in the room did nothing to make it stop. I realized with profound sadness that I didn’t yet have the ability to withstand this onslaught — or to simply walk out.”
She told The Times UK of the incident:
“That was bad. 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.”
Clearly the behavior wasn’t isolated to this one incident. Just check out this vintage interview with the pair on The Arsenio Hall Show promoting the movie — in which he still will not leave her alone!
Is he just trying to be funny? Is it a comedy bit, the sexually incorrigible guy? Again, what’s the difference to the target of the harassment?
Thankfully times have changed a lot. Not enough, but they have. It’s pretty upsetting it’s taken until 2022 for Bill Murray to learn that. But we hope he was sincere about learning.
[Image via MEGA/WENN/Paramount/YouTube.]