Ever since his second feature film Rushmore in 1999, every Wes Anderson movie to date has featured Bill Murray. It’s a streak that we didn’t see breaking any time soon. Alas, that time has come.
Early last week, the cast list was announced for Anderson’s latest film, Asteroid City. The film – which was shooting in Spain – will feature an all-star cast that boasts Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Ed Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Stephen Park, Rupert Friend, Maya Hawke, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, Margot Robbie, Tony Revolori, Jake Ryan, Grace Edwards, Aristou Meehan, Sophia Lillis, Ethan Lee, Jeff Goldblum, Rita Wilson and more. Notice a name missing from that list?
Late Friday, it was announced that Murray had left the production of the film after contracting COVID-19. Murray has reportedly been replaced by Steve Carell. But the internet isn’t so sure we know the truth behind the decision.
For starters, it’s a bit odd that Murray – who has such ties to Anderson’s body of work – would resign from doing the film simply after contracting COVID, as it wouldn’t be the first time production has been halted while a star recovers. That is unless, of course, Murray has been having complications as a result of COVID. But seeing as how the film was shot months ago and Murray has been making public appearances since then, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
But what’s further puzzling is that it’s been reported that Murray hadn’t shot his part yet, when Carell just so happened to replace him. (This isn’t the first time Carell has been brought in as a last minute replacement. He did the same for Bruce Willis on Cafe Society).
However, back in September 2021, Murray flew into London’s BFI Film Festival directly from the set in Spain. He even fished out some details about the shoot.
He stated at the time during an interview, “We’re shooting it in Spain, about 45 minutes from Madrid. It’s fun out there, we’re having a nice time. That’s what we do in showbusiness – we just say the name and people will clap. It has no meaning whatsoever… I flew in from Spain. I want to get my money’s worth.”
That certainly raises concern about the claim that Murray never shot any footage for the film. Also, how did we never hear about this for 10 months?? Certainly we would’ve known by now if Murray had to drop out for COVID reasons way back in the fall.
Could the film had been secretly reshot with Carell for other reasons? It’s definitely possible. Murray has had some trouble as of late, as Murray was set to star in Aziz Ansari’s Being Mortal. However, production shut down after some reported “inappropriate behavior” on Murray’s part. It has yet to resume. However, a source reports that that incident has no connection with his bowing out of shooting Anderson’s film.
Is there more to the story? Could be. We’ll just have to wait and see.