Is Bill Murray About To Be Canceled? Speculation Mounts After His Dubious Exit From Wes Anderson’s ‘Asteroid City’

Bill Murray reportedly dropped out of Wes Anderson‘s upcoming movie Asteroid City after contracting COVID-19, Variety reports this afternoon. The (formerly?) beloved actor allegedly left the production after being diagnosed with the virus, not long before Asteroid City began filming … last September?!? Hmmmmm.

A source told the outlet that Murray was recast after he contracted COVID-19, and that Steve Carrell eventually replaced him during shooting of the Focus Features production in Spain.

Murray’s departure from Asteroid City is surprising considering his long history of collaboration with Anderson; the two have worked together on Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Royal Tenenbaums and more.

His exit also follows Murray’s recent on-set controversy from Aziz Ansari’s film, Being Mortal. Production on the project was halted in April over “inappropriate behavior” from Murray, whose interaction with a woman on set led to a formal complaint and a studio investigation.

Murray shared his side of the incident during an April interview with CNBC, in which he described their interaction as “a difference of opinion.”

“I did something I thought was funny and it wasn’t taken that way,” Murray said. “The movie studio wanted to do the right thing so they wanted to check it all out, investigate it and so they stopped the production.”

Sources told Variety that Murray’s Being Mortal incident did not have “anything to do with” his exit from Asteroid City.

While Murray reportedly did not film any scenes for Asteroid City before he left the film, his comments from the BFI London Film Festival suggest otherwise, as David Franklin pointed out on Twitter.

More context: During a screening of The French Dispatch at the festival in October 2021, Murray shared details of Asteroid City, saying “It’s the usual cast of characters. We’re shooting it in Spain, about 45 minutes from Madrid. It’s fun out there, we’re having a nice time.” (Quotes per Screen Daily and Collider.)

So, what gives? If you ask us, something is rotten in Denmark Spain. Let’s go over this one more time.

  • First things first: According to these reports, Bill Murray exited Asteroid City, which started filming in Spain in September 2021, due to COVID-19. This seems suspect, especially for a star of Murray’s caliber, and his long-standing working relationship with Anderson. Many A-list movie stars have contracted COVID while filming movies during the pandemic, such as Robert Pattinson on The Batman and Tom Cruise on Mission: Impossible 7, and have come back to the set after quarantining. So why was Murray — who’s not exactly a day-player — forced to exit?
  • Next: If he was indeed bounced from the movie for COVID-related reasons, why was he talking about his participation in the movie in October of 2021 on the film festival circuit, and declaring “we’re having a nice time” on the set? Seems fishy.
  • Next: Why are we only JUST NOW finding out about this, 10+ months after the fact? Given the prominence of the coronavirus in all of our minds (and most of our bodies) over the last few years, it feels like it would have been BIG HEADLINES if a major movie star with 50 years worth of hilarious roles under his belt was asked to leave a high profile picture due to the coronavirus. And why are we finding out about this from a “source” on a Friday afternoon, a practice to obfuscate bad news that’s known in media circles as a “Friday news dump.” (Want another VERY recent example of a Friday news dump? Vince McMahon’s “retirement” from the WWE, which also happened this afternoon, just weeks after a slew of sexual assault allegations were filed against the embattled wrestling impresario.)

Uproxx’s Mike Ryan also seems to find the announcement … curious.

To use another popular adage, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. (There’s also a reported history of “fire” in the proximity of Murray; to wit, recall the infamous Lucy Liu fiasco from the Charlie’s Angels set.) While we don’t know the source of the fire quite yet, it certainly seems like Bill Murray’s career is starting to smolder.

Developing…

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