Bill Murray has been the subject of several recent headlines detailing inappropriate behavior on set, but the veteran actor has long had a reputation of being difficult to work with.
From Saturday Night Live feuds to a falling out with Ghostbusters co-star Harold Ramis, as well as the recent film Being Mortal getting shelved due to Murray’s behavior, here’s a complete timeline of the comedian’s controversies.
1977-1980: Saturday Night Live Drama
Dan Aykroyd called him “The Murricane” because of his mood swings. Chevy Chase recalled returning to the show as host in 1978, and Murray hurling various insults at him before the confrontation became physical. Years later, when Murray hosted SNL in 1993, Rob Schneider said he wasn’t particularly friendly to the new cast. In fact, he allegedly “absolutely hated” Schneider, Chris Farley, and Adam Sandler.
1990: Quick Change Allegations
In Geena Davis’ new memoir, Dying of Politeness, the actress recalls a particularly uncomfortable first meeting with Murray when the two were gearing up to shoot the crime comedy Quick Change. According to Davis, Murray insisted on using a massage device on Davis’ back despite her refusals.
“I said no multiple times, but he wouldn’t relent,” Davis wrote. “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.”
Later, on set, Davis alleged that Murray followed her from her trailer to the set and screamed at her for being late while she waited on wardrobe. According to Davis, he shouted belittling words in front of hundreds of cast members and crew workers.
Elsewhere in the book, Davis recalled a joint interview on The Arsenio Hall Show during which Murray repeatedly tried to pull down the spaghetti strap of her dress.
1991: What About Bob? Disagreements
Murray has alluded to disagreements on the sets of films like Stripes and Scrooged, but none of the existing (unearthed) lore about those environments matches the stories about What About Bob? Both Murray and co-star Richard Dreyfus have confirmed friction between the two of them during set, with Drefyus alleging that an intoxicated Murray threw an ashtray at him and said that everyone hated him. Producer Laura Ziskin, meanwhile, said that a disagreement between herself and Murray caused him to toss her into a lake, and that he “also threatened to throw me across the parking lot and then broke my sunglasses and threw them across the parking lot.”
“I was furious and outraged at the time, but having produced a dozen movies, I can safely say it is not common behavior,” she said.
1993: Harold Ramis Falling Out
Murray and the late Harold Ramis were frequent collaborators, appearing together in Stripes and the first two Ghostbusters films. 1993’s Ramis-directed Groundhog Day, however, ended up being their final film together after the two’s creative differences came to a head. Screenwriter Danny Rubin compared their on-set behavior to “two brothers who weren’t getting along,” and one day, Ramis grabbed Murray by the shirt collar and threw him against a wall. Murray didn’t speak to Ramis for more than 20 years after the incident, but the two made amends shortly before Ramis’ death in 2014.
2000: Charlie’s Angels Snafu
Murray beefed with both director McG and star Lucy Liu on the set of 2000’s Charlie’s Angels. According to McG, Murray head-butted him one day, but Murray denied the allegations. In 2021, Liu recalled an infamous incident between herself and Murray on set in which the actor, frustrated that a scene had been changed without his knowledge, directed his ire at her.
“I won’t get into the specifics,” she said, “but it kept going on and on. I was, like, ‘Wow, he seems like he’s looking straight at me.’”
Liu defended herself against language she described as “inexcusable and unacceptable,” which led to the myth that she threw punches at Murray (both actors have denied this). “No matter how low on the totem pole you may be or wherever you came from, there’s no need to condescend or to put other people down,” Liu said. “And I would not stand down, and nor should I have…I’m not going to sit there and be attacked.”
2022: Being Mortal Gets Canned
Murray was supposed to star in Aziz Ansari’s directorial debut Being Mortal, but production was shelved on the project after the actor was accused of inappropriate on-set behavior. When news first broke that production was suspended, details of the incident were not available, and Murray said that he had a “difference of opinion” with a woman on set and that he did something he thought was funny, but it wasn’t taken that way. Later, Puck revealed that Murray straddled the woman and kissed her body and mouth while they were both wearing masks. After engaging the woman in a mediation process, he paid her a $100,000 settlement.
Addressing the incident, Murray said the woman’s complaint had been “quite an education for me,” adding: “I feel like if I don’t see that, you know, the world is different than it was when I was a little kid… 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.”