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Get Low – Bill Murray on how he knew he had to do this

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Get Low - Bill Murray
Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) © Sony Pictures

Bill Murray is as adept at doing drama as he is doing comedy. He began his career on TV’s Saturday Night Live and went on to star in such successful comedies as Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day and What About Bob? His dramatic films include Rushmore, Broken Flowers and Lost in Translation, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.

In Get Low he portrays Frank Quinn, a fast-talking funeral home director who is approached by a reclusive and mysterious backwoodsman named Felix Bush (Robert Duvall), eager to make a deal. He wants Quinn to arrange his funeral while he’s still alive, because he’d like to attend it. He says it’s because he wants to hear what people will say about him, but in truth it’s because he wants to speak to the attendees and finally reveal a secret he has been holding for years.

What was it about this project that you were drawn to?

Get Low - Bill Murray and Director Aaron Schneider
Bill Murray and Director Aaron Schneider © Sony Pictures

I really don’t like to work so it was a drag when I read the script and it was really good. Then I saw the director’s (Aaron Schneider) short (Two Soldiers, which won the Academy Award) and that was really good. I was actually quite comfortable just going out to dinner, but Dean Zanuck (the movie’s producer) and Aaron Schneider just wore me down and I knew I had to do it. Plus, I figured I’d get to find out what it’s like to work with Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek.

What was it like coming back to work again?

Get Low - Robert Duvall and Bill Murray
Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) and Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) © Sony Pictures

Being an independent movie, everyone was truly committed to this thing. We were thrown together very intimately for a short time, but it was the gypsy mentality where everyone pulls together and takes care of each other for the time that you have. That happened on this movie – and it’s what I like best about the movie business.

What was it like working with Robert Duvall?

Robert is a unique cat. There’s only one drum that’s marching in that head, so when you watch him work, he’s just a magnet. It was a lot of fun to watch him carry this relentless confessional story all the way to its conclusion.

What did you like about this story?

Get Low - Bill Murray and Lucas Black
Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) and Buddy (Lucas Black) © Sony Pictures

When you’re talking about funerals, you’re talking about death. This is a story about a man who knows he’s about to die and is trying to amend the errors of his youth. I guess the lesson of this film is that the awareness of the inevitability of death can change your life.

What was it like doing scenes to Sissy Spacek?

I was kind of hoping that I’d end up with the girl in this movie, but you know girls have trouble warming up to a funeral director – I don’t know why!