Bill Murray On Fighting Chevy Chase

‘Don’t touch my face!’

Bill Murray is usually as elusive a creature as the Congo peafowl, but yesterday we ran him to ground. Strolling into the Moonrise Kingdom junket at Cannes, wearing lime-green shorts only slightly less blinding than the jacket he donned for the previous night’s premiere, Murray spent a while chatting to a bartender before complimenting his co-star Kara Hayward (“Looking natty, kiddo”) and loudly pronouncing, “We’ve got some oddballs here!” in the direction of Edward Norton.

In a sit-down, freewheeling interview with Empire, he confirmed that he’s been having a blast re-uniting with his Moonrise castmates. “It’s a goofy bunch. We had a lot of fun making the movie together, so we should all share the fun on the beach. This was just a one-of-a-kind situation, to come out and open the Festival. And I like it here. I have lived in France, now I’m in New York, but I keep moving. I get around. I vagabond.”

During the conversation, Murray waxed lyrical about his acting heroes, poetry and formative years at St. Joseph’s grade school in Wilmette, Illinois: “I wasn’t especially holy at the time.”

And with Chevy Chase in the news at the moment over his spat with Community showrunner Dan Harmon, we had to ask Murray about his own – literal – fight with Chase, during the second season of Saturday Night Live.

Chase had left the show to pursue a movie career, and when he returned to host an episode, his jilted castmates asked Murray to confront him backstage. As legend has it, insults were thrown (“Medium talent!” being Murray’s rumoured slight of choice) and so were fists.

“It was really a Hollywood fight, a ‘Don’t touch my face!’ kind of thing,” recalls Murray with a smile. “Chevy is a big man, I’m not a small guy, and we were separated by my brother Brian [Doyle-Murray], who comes up to my chest. So it was kind of a non-event. It was just the significance of it. It was an Oedipal thing, a rupture. Because we all felt mad he had left us, and somehow I was the anointed avenging angel, who had to speak for everyone. But Chevy and I are friends now. It’s all fine.”

Moonrise Kingdom is out on May 25, and a Bill Murray Pint Of Milk will appear in a future issue of Empire.