Geena Davis describes how Bill Murray harassed her on set in 1990

Geena Davis released her first book yesterday. That surprised me, I thought she’d published a memoir before. The book is called Dying of Politeness: A Memoir and talks about Geena’s journey from childhood to Hollywood. As you can imagine, she’s seen her fair share of misogyny and harassment. Much of the gender inequality is what led her to start The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. She writes about working with Bill Murray in 1990’s Quick Change. Geena was about 34 at the time and Bill was about 40. She said that in their first meeting, which took place in a hotel room, Bill acted creepy with a massager and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Then, on set, he shouted at Geena for being late when she had a perfectly good reason and continued to scream at her in front of everyone as she walked to set.

In her upcoming memoir “Dying of Politeness,” Geena Davis alleges a toxic experience working with Bill Murray on the 1990 film “Quick Change.” She accuses Murray of behaving inappropriately toward her during her initial audition and then being overly aggressive with her on set.

The actress elaborated on the experience in a new interview with The Times (UK). The publication offered the following summary of her description of working with Murray in the book: “She’s introduced to [Murray], she writes, in a hotel suite, where Murray greets her with something called The Thumper, a massage device he insists on using on her, despite her emphatically refusing; later, while they’re filming on location, Murray tracks Davis down in her trailer and begins screaming at her for being late (she’s waiting for her wardrobe), continues to scream at her as she hurries onto the set and even as she gets there, in front of hundreds of cast, crew, curious passers-by.”

“That was bad,” Davis said in the interview. “The way he behaved at the first meeting… I should have walked out of that or profoundly defended myself, in which case I wouldn’t have got the part. I could have avoided that treatment if I’d known how to react or what to do during the audition. But, you know, I was so non-confrontational that I just didn’t.”
Davis went on to say that she regrets blaming herself, as the consequences for the inappropriate behavior should land on Murray.

“There’s no point in regretting things, and yet, here I was regretting,” she said. “It wasn’t my fault.”

[From IndieWire via Pajiba]

I mention Geena and Murray’s ages because she wasn’t a child, and he wasn’t that much older. By Quick Change, Geena had been a working actress for a decade and won her Oscar. She was perfectly established but Murray felt he had every right to lord power over her. It cinches my heart to read Geena saying she blamed herself for not managing the behavior. That’s what women were trained to do. If a man’s behavior went off the rails, we were conditioned to look at our part in making that happen. Hopefully that has changed and we are no longer teaching young women to blame themselves.

I was looking for a reason to talk about the film The Greatest Beer Run Ever this week. It is so much better than you think it is, don’t write it off because of what you think the title suggests. But one of the things I wanted to praise was Murray’s performance. And now I don’t, because it doesn’t matter knowing that he behaved this way, and everyone just allowed it because he made them laugh and bought some baseball tickets. What’s worse, his victims like Geena, Lucy Liu, and those folks on Being Mortal were made into the bad guy because they dared to speak out against Mr. Groundhog Day. Beer Run is still a really good movie, and all the performances are good. Murray’s role is small. Follow it is up with A League of Their Own or The Long Kiss Goodnight with Geena and some guys that don’t have bad press.

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41 Responses to “Geena Davis describes how Bill Murray harassed her on set in 1990”

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  1. Yup, Me says:

    I’ve loved Geena ever since I was a child and she did Earth Girls Are Easy. I love the conversations she’s started with her institute and the increased awareness around women’s roles and experiences on camera and in our homes.

    The Long Kiss Goodnight is my favorite Christmas movie.

    • BeyondTheFringe says:

      Same re: Long Kiss Goodnight! So underrated.

      Geena Davis walked so Charlize et al could run when it comes to bad ass female action heroes.

    • Jess says:

      Omg. I love the Long Kiss Goodnight but never thought of it as a Xmas movie. Thanks! It is now going to be added to the rotation! Geena is such an incredible person and I love the work she’s doing now, as well as all of her work as an actor.

      • Concern Fae says:

        Shane Black sets all of his movies at Christmas, even Iron Man 3! It really does make a difference in the mood, especially when juxtaposed against a non holiday story. I think Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is my fave, but I love mystery stories. The Long Kiss Goodnight and Nice Guys are close runners up.

        Geena Davis is amazing and definitely someone who didn’t get the parts she deserved. Hollywood didn’t (doesn’t!) know what to do with her.

      • sunny says:

        So true on Shane Black films! I adore Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the Long Kiss Goodnight, and Nice Guys. Now I want to marathon all of these films.

        Geena’s institute has done incredible work in Hollywood.

    • bettyrose says:

      Earth Girls are Easy is a masterpiece! But Beetlejuice truly won me over to her.

  2. death by bacon says:

    I love the long kiss goodnight. Its one of the best action movies ever. Always liked Gina.

    I can’t with Murray. I also wonder if and why Davis didn’t speak up when Lucy Lui did.

    Hollywood stinks and there needs to be a reckoning.

  3. Noki says:

    Surprising absolutely No One,the guy just oozes being a complete A**Hole.

  4. Lightpurple says:

    Why did an Oscar winning actress have to AUDITION for Quick Change?

    • Petra (Brazen Archetyped Phenomenal Woman) says:

      She is a woman (Hollywood saw her as lower in rank than Bill), so she needed to prove she was good enough to work with Bill Murray.

    • MsGnomer says:

      I recall that Bill Murray had to audition for Dustin Hoffman for his small role in Tootsie. I dont think auditioning is scandalous. But, Murray bullying anyone like he is a maladjusted 12 year old is reason enough for him not to ever be hired again. Took such a long time for us to learn what a lecherous and jealous little creep he is. I am really bummed by this news. I loved his performances and movies. I also admit I enjoy Woody Allen movies, so…. There is a problem in the arts where problematic behavior is excused because of the seeking for “Art,’ a commitment to ones art. For example, Picasso was a huge misogynist, and his works are all over museums as genius, Murray and Allen are examples of genius theater/film creators with problems of harming others. I hope we all continue a dialogue so our American heritage of film making no longer resembles a cess pool.

  5. Emmi says:

    *sigh* Yeah. Everyone needs to stop deifying Murray because he’s so quirky and doesn’t own a cell phone or whatever. He’s an old dude with a shtick and frankly, while he’s a good actor, I can’t come up with one part that could not have been played by someone else. I’m over all these assh*les. NEXT! Also, more Geena Davis on my screens, she’s amazing.

    • Miss Owlsyn says:

      The last thing I saw her in was what turned out to be the last season of GLOW. I was so excited when she showed up because I had no idea she would be joining the cast and it just made me happy. Like catching up with an old friend.

  6. Mle428 says:

    I had some friends a few years ago who had a vacation home near Bill Murray. Everyone knew not to approach him because he was a giant a*hole. I’m surprised they didn’t have signs up in the community, like the “Don’t feed the bears” signs in a national park. “Don’t talk to the famous man on the golf cart.”

    • H says:

      My sister used to live by him in CA and everyone knew not to bother Murray. He was a jerk to everyone in town. I loved him on SNL, but he’s turned out to be another Mel Gibson (another actor I boycott).

  7. SAS says:

    Honking for Geena Davis! I adore her beyond measure. Joining in on the Long Kiss Goodnight love, I watch it every year.

  8. Kokiri says:

    I do love Geena. It always makes me giggle a bit that she was married to Jeff Goldblum. I’m not sure why.

    Him & Chevy Chase kinda break my heart a bit. I loved them both, odd quirky guys that were so so talented. To know they are both horrible people is like losing a bit of childhood.

    My favourite Geena is Thelma & Louise. Now I just fast forward the BP parts. I never found him sexy anyway. Jeff Goldblum is way hotter.

    • Josephine says:

      Agree with you on everything. I love Geena and am totally bummed that Chevy and Bill are horrible. I suspect that alcohol played a roll but that’s not an excuse at all. I think it’s mostly incredible privilege and how much Hollywood let them do anything they wanted.

      Re: Jeff Goldblum, he’s amazing. Have you watched The World According to Jeff Goldbum? The man is a national treasure (one of the espisodes is about Jeff Goldbum day — it’s amazing).

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      I’m with you on Bill & Chevy. Chevy Chase is really good on screen, better than Bill, I’d argue, but they’re both talented. I love Fletch & I watch Funny Farm whenever I’m feeling down. But they’re both gigantic assholes. Allegedly, after Chevy Chase returned to SNL after quitting, Bill Murray punched him & yelled “MEDIUM TALENT!”

      Say what you will, but I get the sense that Chevy is an equal opportunity jerk while Bill is more…selective in who he targets.

  9. Miss Owlsyn says:

    Bill Murray (co)directed Quick Change. He wasn’t just a co-star, he was her *boss* in these situations.

  10. Mireille says:

    Yeah, not surprised about Bill Murray. He’s white, privileged, rich — so any bad behavior is excused. Just ask Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp.

    I’m here for that YELLOW GOWN she’s wearing. It’s beautiful on her. I like anyone who’s daring enough to pull off vibrant colors like that.

    • CourtneyB says:

      She was given an award at the recent Emmy’s (where she wore the dress) for her foundation.

  11. Becks1 says:

    I’ve never been a Murray fan, I feel like he always plays an asshole and IMO it never seemed that far from the reality. so this story from Geena tracks with that.

    Something that I think is important (mentioned in the post) is that Geena was not a child here. She was not a newbie. She was 34, she was established in Hollywood, she had an Oscar. and she still felt she could not say no, she could not speak up, she could not defend herself against him and his screaming etc.

    When you look at the people Weinstein targeted – yes, some were new to hollywood and looking for that break. But a lot weren’t, they had influence and connections and a proven track record, and he STILL derailed their careers. It’s awful to think about how poorly women are treated in Hollywood.

  12. Eleonor says:

    I love home as an actor, but his antics have been well known for decades…ans no one did anything.

  13. girl_ninja says:

    Ugh. Who hasn’t that bedraggled old goat harassed. He needs to be put out to pasture. I’m sick sick of seeing his smug face.

  14. HeyKay says:

    I have never understood the Bill Murray shtick.
    He has always come off as obnoxious to me.
    Take ya money and retire.

  15. NMB says:

    Not surprised – I feel like I’ve read many times that Bill Murray is a huge jerk. At least Geena feels comfortable and empowered enough to talk about it now. Sadly, that probably won’t change how people feel about Murray, since, again, it’s no secret he’s a jerk. It’s interesting how some people get away with it while others don’t.

  16. Gilkk says:

    Many years ago I worked at a pretty big comedy festival in the green room of the main venue. Basically my job was to make sure that the talent had what they wanted before they went on stage etc. Everyone was SOOOO NICE except Bill Murray. We were all warned beforehand not to speak to him unless he spoke to us. He was the biggest asshole I have ever met. I don’t watch anything that he’s in willingly.

    • Jaded says:

      A woman I was friendly with back in the eighties was a “star herder” for Columbia Pictures. She said Bill Murray was the worst celebrity she’d ever dealt with, and she babysat many big stars. She said he was rude, dismissive and shouty, and as a thank you he gave her a bottle of bourbon. Normally she’d get a generous tip because they’re basically on call 24/7. She poured it down the drain.

  17. Sean says:

    The settlement from the film Murray was fired from was just made public. He sexually assaulted a PA.

    I can’t link it on my phone but he truly is terrible. It’s sad to learn all of this as I was a fan but now I hope he never works again.

    • OriginalMich says:

      OMG. So Murray, 72, decided that a “much younger” woman on the production staff was flirting with him. Based on that delusion, he decided it would be a good idea to pin her to a bed on set by straddling her (I’m guessing he might have shoved her on to the bed?) and then kiss her on the mouth while they both had on masks”. Then, when complaints were filed, he said it was just a joke. What a POS.

  18. Jaded says:

    He’s been a problem since his SNL days. The number of people he’s been abusive towards, including his wife, is unbelievable.

  19. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    This makes me wanna watch Long Kiss Goodnight. She’s amazing in it. And thank God she’s calling out Murray. I’ve been quoting Stripes my whole life. Everyone in my family has been called Frances at one point or another. Just because you’re cute and funny doesn’t mean you can ignore a ‘no’ and keep pawing. My ex husband did that. It’s how he got me on a first date. Being relentless. F*ck that behavior.

  20. Chantal says:

    I’ve always like her! More disappointment -yet another actor who’s an a hole. What About Bob was my and my mothers favorite movies (mainly bc of Richard Dreyfuss).
    The more terrible the behavior these morons get away with, the more their awful behavior escalates. I’m glad a reckoning is finally happening and they’re being exposed, hopefully with lasting consequences. Also, I now have to rewatch Long Kiss Goodnight and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang!

  21. Isadora says:

    Nothing on Randy Quaid who was also in the movie? The now looney MAGA/ Qanon asskissing creep? I guess he was “normal” back then.

  22. bettyrose says:

    Why are there two articles today making me feel disgusted by Bill Murray? Because time is still up, that’s why. No hiding behind “it was a different time.” I’ve actually always thought his Ghostbusters persona was probably a bit truthful, but I’ve also been guilty of having that nostalgic desire to think he’s a good guy.

  23. AnneL says:

    Ugh! I loved both him and Chevy Chase on SNL. I loved “Groundhog Day.” Why do they both have to be awful people?

    Please tell me Dan Ackroyd is nice…..

    • Jaded says:

      Well…he’s sort of a split personality. He can be lovely with fans and then he can be a total jerk. He’s been known to demand special treatment at restaurants and clubs, and allegedly travels with an entourage of intimidating bodyguards. With big fame comes big ego.

      • Jenn says:

        Dan Aykroyd seems very generous and lovely with people, and he’s also been open about receiving a late diagnosis of autism. And I do think “diva behavior” can in fact conceal a LOT of social anxiety, whereas a dx can help a person understand themselves and develop healthier coping skills.

  24. MsGnomer says:

    Geena Davis has a genius IQ and competed in the Olympics. I remember that I liked when she and Jeff G were married because they are both so tall and smart. I was a kid, and felt certain their marriage would work out because of this, This is my fond memory of this brilliant actor.