Toronto: Bill Murray's 'St. Vincent' Earns Standing Ovation at Festival

The Hollywood actor showed off his droll humor during a post-screening Q&A

Fitting for the end of Bill Murray Day at the Toronto Film Festival, lead actor Bill Murray earned a rousing standing ovation as his latest film, St. Vincent, had its world premiere at the Princess of Wales Theater.

Murray, who plays the eponymous Vincent opposite Melissa McCarthy in Theodore Melfi's comedy, was predictably droll when asked during a Q&A why he was cast in the lead role.

"Because you couldn't get Jack Nicholson," Murray said, looking over at Melfi, who wrote the curmudgeonly comedy.

The Hollywood actor's restraint, and surprisingly McCarthy's own, was much in evident in St. Vincent, in part explaining its appeal to the Toronto festival audience.

"I thought if we could avoid being schmaltzy, and we almost did," Murray said about not overcooking Melfi's portrait of Vincent, a cranky war vet, taking care of his neighbor's son, played by newcomer Jaeden Lieberher.

The world premiere of St. Vincent followed free screenings of earlier Murray comedies — Stripes, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day — at Bell Lightbox to celebrate Bill Murray Day in Toronto.

"We didn't want to push too hard and make it sentimental," McCarthy added about the ensemble cast, which includes Naomi Watts, Chris O'Dowd and Terrence Howard, and their performances.

Melfi also revealed St. Vincent landed at The Weinstein Co. after Fox Searchlight, which originally developed the project, couldn't commit to Murray's performance fee.

"So Harvey [Weinstein] stepped up. He believed in Bill and he believed in every actor up here" Melfi told the Toronto audience.

The Weinstein Co. releases St. Vincent starting on Oct. 10 in New York and Los Angeles.

Sept. 6, 10:45 a.m. A new release date for St. Vincent has been added.

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