‘I said no multiple times’: Geena Davis recounts uncomfortable audition with Bill Murray

Geena Davis has called the character of Bill Murray into question. In a recent interview with I-Magazine, the actress details the inappropriate behavior of Murray in an audition and on set for their 1990 film Quick Change.

The interview with the British outlet is, in part, a retelling of the events Davis and Murray had described on The Arsenio Hall Show promoting their new film. The full interview is available on YouTube.

While Murray sits with his arm around Davis, she tells Arsenio that the first audition started very similarly – with touching. She said that almost immediately upon arrival, Murray had lifted her shirt and was tickling her stomach.  After the initial audition, she was called back for a second.

Murray had insisted that she read the role “rougher” and “tougher.” So, when she arrived for her call-back she was determined to “abuse him or something” as she said on the late-night show.  However, things didn’t go as she planned. Murray was waving a massage device at her called The Thumper imploring Davis to let him use it on her. At first, she refused but after a few minutes of insisting, she was lying down and Murray was massaging her back she told Hall, humorously.

In Davis’ new book, Dying of Politeness, she has a slightly different telling of the incident.

“I said no multiple times, but he wouldn’t relent,” she writes. “I realized with a profound sadness that I didn’t yet have the ability to withstand this onslaught – or to simply walk out.”

Dying of Politeness tells the story of how she overcame the conditioning with which she was raised.  “I was raised to think it was normal to be like that – to be so self-effacing, and self-sacrificing,” Davis said.  Now, she strikes a new tone, lamenting what she could have done in response to her co-star’s effrontery.

On set, she says that “affable, everybody-loves-him Bill Murray came raging into the trailer, violently banging on the door”, and proceeded to yell at Davis in front of the whole crew.  A scene that left her “shaking all over”.

She later goes on to recall the joint appearance with Murray on Hall’s late-night show. While speaking to Hall, Murray sidled up beside Davis and began stroking her arm; at one point removing a strap of her dress from her shoulder. Davis continued to laugh and joke while Murray clumsily pawed at her, drawing laughs from Hall and the audience.

The Thelma and Louise and A League of Their Own star remembers the television show appearance much differently now. When the interviewer asks about how she joked about her co-stars behavior she responds saying “I did? I forgot that. Telling it that way, just as a humorous anecdote, I must have thought, ‘Well, it’s ultimately funny, or makes a good story,’ when in fact it was so devastating.”

The interview with Hall – where Davis would later do her Flipper impression – has become the subject of much discussion.  What one could have described as chummy – or even mutually flirtatious – Davis now describes as “devastating.” Perhaps, that’s why it’s called acting.


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