Many that follow the film industry have often wondered why, exactly, Bill Murray offered up his voice for the lasagna-loving orange feline in the animation/live-action film Garfield. Cynics seemed to say that it was a payday, and many Bill Murray fans agreed because they couldn’t find any other excuse. Here is one straight from Bill Murray himself in the latest GQ (via NY Mag): he thought Joel Coen, one of the famed Coen Brothers, was writing the film, but instead it was actually Joel Cohen.
Murray goes on to explain that while he didn’t read the entire script, he thought it would be fun to do voice work for once and signed on and forgot about it as time went on. When the call came to start doing the lines, he became flustered and just couldn’t believe the lines he was reading. He even attempted to make them funny but they got worse, so he finally decided he better watch what they had already to see if he could make it make sense. That’s when he started saying, “‘Who the hell cut this thing? Who did this? What the fuck was Coen thinking?’ And then they explained it to me: It wasn’t written by that Joel Coen.’” For more excerpts from the interview, which equates to more laughs than both Garfield films put together, hit the break.
In the interview, Dan Fierman cuts right to the chase with Murray, asking him if Garfield was just a payday, and that’s when Murray explains the confusion.
“No! I didn’t make that for the dough! Well, not completely. I thought it would be kind of fun, because doing a voice is challenging, and I’d never done that. Plus, I looked at the script, and it said, ‘So-and-so and Joel Coen.’ And I thought: Christ, well, I love those Coens! They’re funny. So I sorta read a few pages of it and thought, Yeah, I’d like to do that. I had these agents at the time, and I said, ‘What do they give you to do one of these things?’ And they said, ‘Oh, they give you $50,000.’ So I said, ‘Okay, well, I don’t even leave the fuckin’ driveway for that kind of money.’”
Not long after having a long conversation with a “studio guy,” Murray’s agent called to inform him the offer was much higher than $50,000, and he was pleased about that. So he signed on and the rest was history. Of course, Murray manages to find one good thing about the whole situation, explaining that all was not lost because of Jennifer Love Hewitt.
“At least they had her in good-looking clothes. Best thing about the movie. But that’s all ugly. That’s inappropriate. That’s just… [laughs] That’s why, when they say, ‘Any regrets?’ at the end of Zombieland, I say, ‘Well, maybe Garfield.’”
Then again, he certainly wasn’t confused by the time he made the sequel, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, but that is probably another story all together. The entire GQ interview is nearly as entertaining as this one excerpt, and I highly recommend it to see Murray dish on L.A., the fact that he has never seen Seinfeld, how the Year One writers nearly killed Ghostbusters 3, and a ton of other things.