Entertainment

6 Best Bill Murray Zings From the St. Vincent Round Table

Sweet crowd-pleaser St. Vincent (in theatres Oct. 24) follows the friendship that develops between the titular irascible old coot (Bill Murray) and his shy 11-year-old neighbour, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher). The all-star cast—which also includes Melissa McCarthy as Oliver’s mom, Chris O’Dowd as his Catholic schoolteacher, and Naomi Watts as Vincent’s spirited Russian pregnant stripper girlfriend—gathered early one morning during TIFF to discuss Ted Melfi’s film and crack each other up. To celebrate the film opening nation-wide today, here are the best bits of an hour with Bill Murray and his merry band

BILL MURRAY and JAEDEN LIEBERHER star in ST. VINCENT

Bill Murray and Jaeden Lieberher in St. Vincent

Q: Bill, there’s a through-line between some of my favourite performances of yours—whether it’s Lost In Translation, Rushmore, or this—of a surprising, unexpected, cross-generational friendship. Is that something you respond to?

Bill: That was some of the most polite morning applause I have ever heard. Let’s get a baseline of understanding here—your question is sculptifying; I’m frozen, really. You had a question and I’m sure you meant it. I don’t know if there’s a through-line in my work, so I’m glad that you have found it. Wouldn’t you like to have one of these in your life? I’m sorry, it’s early. It’s a long day ahead of us and you get to go home or to the bar or something, but we have to work. We’re going to take it easy here.

***

Q: How did you get over your nerves, Jaeden?

Jaeden: Well, Bill and I meditated. So, that helped.

Q: What kind of meditation?

Bill: It worked. I’d love to hear you talk about it.

Jaeden: We just put our heads down on chairs and then closed our eyes.

Bill: It was a hard day. How old are you?

Jaeden: 11.

Bill: Liar. How old are you?

Jaeden: 11.

Bill: But you were 10 once, right? So, what kind of a director gives a 10-year-old a four-page speech and then shoots 50 angles of it? Only a first-time director would do something so foolish. Do they have child labour laws? He had to do it a lot of times and the kid just had to calm down a little bit. We had to conserve our energy. I don’t think I would’ve done really well with four pages and he did an extraordinary job.

***

Q: Chris, what went through your mind when you got onto set and realized what you had gotten yourself into?

Chris: I think that kids are idiots. I’ve never met a kid I liked and I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to continue that. I was playing a teacher [who] was trying to keep everybody in step, so I didn’t have to do any thought-provoking acting.

***

Q: Melissa, it’s really interesting to see you play a straight man—

Melissa: I wasn’t playing a man. (That was my back-story.)

Q: It also must be cool working with someone that you consider a hero—

Melissa: I’ve loved Jaeden for so long!

(L-R) MELISSA McCARTHY, JAEDEN LIEBERHER and NAOMI WATTS star in ST. VINCENT

Melissa McCarthy, Jaeden Lieberher and Naomi Watts in St. Vincent

Q: I want to ask Mr. Murray about when the Cubs are going to make the World Series? And how can you not be wearing a Brooklyn Dodgers cap?

Bill: I actually have a Brooklyn Dodgers cap.

Chris: That was Vogue, ladies and gentleman. Thank-you for joining us from Vogue.

 ***

Q: How did Ghostbusters change your career? What do you remember from those days?

Bill: Well, Ghostbusters paid for my children’s college education, which means that they can flunk out much earlier than they would.

Q: Did you ever watch it again?

Bill: Ghostbusters? It’s on a loop in my house. We made up a lot of stuff just doing it. We would just put on those uniforms and just walk into stores; people didn’t know who the hell we were and the cops thought we were above them because we had better uniforms. We had the damn car; you never stopped at a stoplight, we just drove and did anything we wanted to do.

 ***

Bill: Ask Chris a question. Who has a question for Chris?

Q: I do! There’s a website called Bill Murray Stories, where people tell stories about you appearing in strange places. A question for the actors: would you contribute to the Bill Murray Stories?

Bill: That was nice of you, really generous of you. Could we have this woman removed? Thanks for reaching out. Now let’s try another question. You with the glasses on your head. Yeah, you look like you’ve got a brain today, come on.

 ***

Q: Jaeden, what was it like working with Melissa and Chris?

Jaeden: It was super-fun to work with Melissa. She seemed like a good mom and it was cool to see her serious in a role. Chris was just terrible to work with.

Chris: He’s been harbouring that for quite a while. Ever since the “kids are idiots” comment, he’s been sitting on his tongue, waiting for an opportunity.

Jaeden: It was fun to work with him, kind of. He likes to joke around.

Chris: Yeah, I think he did a beautiful job. He was incredibly focused and hardworking, but at this point, I really just see him as competition, so as much as I enjoy his performance in this film, I truly hope it’s his last.