A Berkshire Hathaway shareholder’s meeting isn’t typically the go-to venue for Hollywood gossip. But that’s where Bill Murray admitted during an April 30 interview with CNBC that production on Aziz Ansari’s directorial debut, Being Mortal, was suspended because of him. Ten days earlier, Searchlight Pictures had informed the cast – which includes Murray, Seth Rogen and Keke Palmer – of the news, and reports emerged that the decision was due to a “complaint.”
Murray, 71, told CNBC that “I had a difference of opinion with a woman I’m working with,” adding “I did something I thought was funny and it wasn’t taken that way.” He didn’t exactly apologize or even speak about the incident in great detail, but he did explain that he and the woman are now in conversation about whether they can continue working on this project in some capacity. (According to Matthew Belloni at Puck, the woman in question is “reportedly Keke Palmer,” who on April 18 posted some enigmatic comments to Instagram about how “it can lower your rate when people don’t like the experience of working with you, no matter the outcome of the actual task.”)
“The movie studio wanted to do the right thing, wanted to check it all out, investigate it, and so they stopped the production, but as of now we’re talking and we’re trying to make peace with each other. I think that’s where the real issue is, between our peace,” he explained. “We’re both professionals, we like each other’s work. We like each other, I think, and if we can’t really get along and trust each other there’s no point [in] going further working together or making a movie.”
Murray is famous for his pranks and off-beat behavior both on set and off, and –the 2018 documentary The Bill Murray Stories focuses on several of these interactions. In the CNBC interview, Murray acknowledged that cultural attitudes and humor have shifted since he was young.
“The world’s different than it was when I was a little kid. What I thought was funny as a little kid isn’t necessarily the same as what’s funny now,” he said. “Things change and the times change, so it’s important for me to figure it out and I think the most important thing is that it’s best for the other person.”
Some celebrity collaborators have been critical of Murray’s behavior before. In a 2021 Los Angeles Times podcast appearance, Lucy Liu said Murray made “inexcusable and unacceptable” comments about her while they were filming Charlie’s Angels. In 2019, Richard Dreyfuss said that Murray was a “bully” on the set of What About Bob? Anjelica Huston told Vulture in 2019 that Murray was “a shit to [her]” while shooting The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, though she acknowledged their relationship had since improved.
Being Mortal is based on a 2014 non-fiction book of the same name by successful surgeon Atul Gawande. The book uses anecdotes, including Gawande’s father’s battle with a spinal tumor and the surgeon’s own experiences with patients, to challenge ideas in the healthcare industry about how to care for older patients grappling with serious or terminal ailments. Perhaps most notably, Gawande argues for improving a patient’s quality of life versus just trying to keep them alive for as long as possible regardless of their suffering.
It is unknown if Being Mortal will still be released in 2023 as planned, or if Murray will be part of production once it resumes. The actor is currently working on several other high-profile films, including Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, his first appearance in a Marvel film.