In The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Bill Murray stars as an egotistical underwater adventurer who has relationship issues with his wife, long-lost son, and pretty much his whole crew. Turns out, there's a lot of misery behind the movie's comedy.
While Murray was interested in reteaming with his Royal Tennenbaums director, Wes Anderson, the 54-year-old was very unhappy during the several months they spent filming on location in Italy. "I was physically and emotionally drained, not just from the work," Murray sighs. "It was a torturous experience to be away from home for that long. I hated going to work. I was so personally miserable that it was really a challenge to work every day because I was just so lonely and missed my [family] so much. It was what I imagine being in prison is like."
While most of his Zissou co-stars say they got close, Murray has a rather cynical take on the setside camaraderie. "It was like a family on the set [because] we were stuck with each other," he jokes. (Um, at least we think he's using his dry wit to kid us.) "You do bond with each other and have to look out for each other because the job is really dangerous. Making movies is far more dangerous than people ever appreciate.
"Being at sea on a ship is even more dangerous," he continues. "We were using weapons, and things go wrong. The weather was miserable. You don't think of Italy as anything but sunny, picking a grape and laying on a hillside. But it was cold — bone cold on the water in the Mediterranean shooting at night. You got cold like nobody's business, colder than I have ever been in Chicago. I don't think I'm over it yet."
Despite his grousing, Murray at least enjoyed playing his Steve Zissou character. "He just lets it go," the actor explains. "He doesn't have any censors [telling him,] 'The next thing you say might be bad behavior and you might want to hold that back.' Bang! Out it comes. That's kind of fun to play.
"You don't get to do that in life so often," he adds. "You are supposed to obey some sort of rules of politeness or respect. We don't have time for that in the movies; we've got to move right along and see the emotion right now. It's kind of a treat to do that."