RFF14: Bill Murray

The Ghostbusters’ actor receives the Career Award and turns his Close Encounter with the audience into a show

If you put two friends and colleagues in a room together, you know that the schedule can change. However, if those two people are Bill Murray and Wes Anderson, you do it at your own risk. Rome Film Festival’s Artistic Director, Antonio Monda, was aware of that when he decided with his team of selectors to give the american actor the Career Award and, also, he was right when he thought that the best way to celebrate Murray, was to invite his friend-director Wes Anderson to give him the award and moderate the Close Encounter with the audience, which took place at Auditorium’s Sala Sinopoli yesterday, October 19, in the evening. 

Bill Murray attending the red Carpet at Rome Film Festival 2019. Credits/ Silvia Gerbino

Explaining in detail what happen is hard, but we’re going to try. The encounter opened with four people on stage, Monda, Murray, Anderson and the amazing translator Olga Fernando having a hard time following the endless conversations between the actor and the director. 

When non-english speakers in the audience started to complain, asking Monda to let Olga do her job, Anderson said: «In case things goes off at anytime in this conversation I think it might be good if we just go to the audience and see if anybody has something to say, so just be ready. Is there anybody right now?». A woman in a long and colorful dress raises her hands and someone takes her onstage: it’s Frances McDormand. «I have a statement: I wore this dress to try at every opportunity to upstage Bill Murray as much as I can. Is it working?» the Oscar winner actress, said. «Bill and I met for the first time when Wes cast us as a very happily married couple in Moonrise Kingdom. I won’t pretend to speak for all the women in Bill’s life, because they’re perfectly capable speaking themselves, but I showed up for Bill, because he shows up for me» she added. Then, McDormand went back to her seat joining her colleague Edward Norton, who also attended the event. 

Bill Murray and Frances McDormand. Credits/ Rome Film Festival.

The encounter continued with the traditional formula, with Monda showing some clips from Murray’s career and the actor commenting them, sometimes with the contribution of Anderson. Murray mentions british actor Paul Scofield as one of his biggest inspirations and Roger Michell (who directed him in Hyde Park on Hudson) as one of the best directors he ever worked with: «He just had a baby at the time, so we finished working at 5-6 o’clock and the sun sets very late in the summertime in England. So I got to drive back home and see a beautiful sunset every single day. When I director gives you the opportunity to remember that you’re living and to appreciate such a view, you know he’s a good person to work with.»

Bill Murray and Wes Anderson. Credits/ Rome Film Festival

The event moves on intermittently with Murray with clips from Tootsie (1982), Ghostbusters (1984) and Murray inviting the audience to yawn together when the lights go down. Monda shows sequences from Anderson’s Rushmore (1998), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2001) and The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Murray shares the lesson he learned from his friend: «He’s the best at making the making of his movies his life. He makes his life, while making the movies. He puts both things on the same scale.»

Starting from a memory from Anderson, the american actor also taught the audience how to balance mind and body feeling their own weight on their feet and also gave advice on how to shine shoes the proper way. Some famous friends, including Jim Jarmusch, Anjelica Huston and Tilda Swinton, sent a short video to congratulate Murray for his Career Award.

On the right: Bill Murray. Credits/ Rome Film Festival.

Acknowledging the actor for his achievement, Wes Anderson said: «I had the chance to go up all kinds of adventures with Bill over the years and he loves an adventure: he knows how to make the work fun. But is what happens in front of the camera between action and cut that drew me to Bill in the first place and has been the most magical thing of all for me to succeed, share and use in these movies. What he brings when the camera is rolling is something nobody else can bring.»

The encounter ends too late on the schedule, with a long standing ovation, the audience approaching the stage and Bill Murray shaking hands with his fans. 



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