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Bill Murray Hired A ‘Profoundly Deaf’ Assistant To Stop People Contacting Him

by : Lucy Connolly on : 06 Nov 2019 15:40
Bill Murray Hired A 'Profoundly Deaf' Assistant To Stop People Contacting Him While Filming Groundhog DayBill Murray Hired A 'Profoundly Deaf' Assistant To Stop People Contacting Him While Filming Groundhog DayPA

Bill Murray is an icon, no one’s denying that.

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From Ghostbusters to Zombieland, Scrooged to Lost in Translation, the comedian’s everlasting wit and humour has landed him all sorts of legendary roles. Yes, I am ignoring Garfield and Garfield 2

Perhaps Bill Murray’s best performance, however, comes in the form of Groundhog Day, the 1993 fantasy comedy film that saw the actor (well, his character Phil Connors) caught in a time loop and repeatedly reliving the same day.

You can watch the trailer for the film below:

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Watching the film, you’d have no idea that behind the scenes Murray was proving to be a bit – well – difficult with the production team. Despite his character being blasé and cynical, he was also extremely likeable, with the actor’s comedic genius shining through in every scene.

Which makes this next story that bit harder to believe – although maybe not, when you take into account Murray’s expert portrayal of sarcastic characters throughout the years. I’ll let you make your own mind up, though.

The film’s director, Harold Ramis, who collaborated with Murray on six comedy classics – including Ghostbusters and Caddyshack – said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly he ‘learned to step back’ due to the actor’s bad mood on set. ‘You don’t step in front of a train, you just let it go by,’ Ramis explained.

Bill MurrayBill MurrayWarner Bros.

Murray’s bad mood was supposedly a result of his first marriage dissolving, and meant his relationship with the crew was less than perfect during filming for the 1993 classic. During this time, the actor was difficult to reach and often unavailable, resulting in the tensions on set getting increasingly worse.

Ramis explained:

Bill had all these obvious resentments toward the production, so it was very hard for a time to communicate with him. Calls would go un-returned. Production assistants couldn’t find him.

Production staff were left wondering how to make things easier with Murray, and eventually someone came up with the following suggestion: ‘Bill, you know, things would be easier if you had a personal assistant. Then we wouldn’t have to bother you with all this stuff. And he said, “Okay”.’

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Bill MurrayBill MurrayPA

The director continued:

So he hired a personal assistant who was profoundly deaf, did not have oral speech, spoke only American sign language, which Bill did not speak, nor did anyone else in the production. But Bill said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to learn sign language.’

Ramis went on to say that, after a couple of weeks, Murray ‘gave that up’ because it was too ‘inconvenient’. The director added: ‘That’s anti-communication, you know? Let’s not talk.’

Sadly, the experience was too much for Ramis, who swore never to collaborate with Murray again after the completion of Groundhog Day, as Far Out Magazine reports.

Cast of GhostbustersCast of GhostbustersColombia Pictures

He stayed true to his word, with the two remaining estranged until the months leading up to the director’s death in 2014, when Murray is said to have visited his old friend.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Film and TV, Bill Murray, Comedian, comedy, Film, Harold Ramis

Credits

Entertainment Weekly and 1 other
  1. Entertainment Weekly

    'Groundhog Day': My favorite Bill Murray story

  2. Far Out Magazine

    Bill Murray hired an assistant who “was profoundly deaf” to stop people from contacting him