Bill Murray Makes Oscar Campaign Pitstop, Compares Himself to FDR
Sure, Daniel Day-Lewis is earning universal praise for portraying Abraham Lincoln, but he's not the only famed actor with some potential awards buzz for his role as a beloved American president. And while Day-Lewis is well-known for slipping deep under the skin of his characters, the other big-screen commander in chief might leave you scratching your head at first.
After all, that's exactly what Bill Murray did when asked by director Roger Michell to play Franklin D. Roosevelt.
"I thought, 'Can this guy be serious?' I wouldn't have cast myself," Murray tells the New York Times in a new interview. "But this guy did, and about halfway through I went, 'Wow, he really was right.' Not to compare myself, but certain personality things were similar, like the way he tried to leaven things and move attention around a room, get everyone their little slice of the sun."
Focus Features, which is releasing the film in select theaters Dec. 7, clearly agrees. Soon after Murray made the comments, he brought the Times reporter with him to a stage in New York to talk to a SAG audience of potential awards voters. In September, though, he said that he wasn't drawn to the role for its potential awards-season rewards.
"To me, an Oscar-type role, when I see those kinds of roles, I consider them schmuck bait," he told Reuters. "They're often sentimental schmaltz. This one wasn't sentimental at all, because it's a sort of behind-the-curtain look."
Murray, a best actor Oscar nominee for 2003's Lost in Translation, plays Roosevelt as a sunny, adventurous man who has a wandering eye with women. There are questions as to whether he had an actual affair with Daisy Suckley, who is played in the film by Laura Linney. It is a largely generous portrayal of a beloved leader, something Murray was careful to deliver.
"The thing I was concerned about was: The story that we’re going to tell, is it going to be a tearing down of an icon?" he said. "I don’t know if I want to be part of that kind of action, where you trash someone. What was the John Travolta movie, Primary Colors? I didn’t want to do something where you were really just napalming someone."