Hollywood Flashback: Bill Murray Starred in Jim Jarmusch's 'Broken Flowers' in 2005

ONE TIME USE ONLY-Cannes premiere of 'Broken Flowers' —Getty — H 2019

Though Jim Jarmusch will bring his latest film 'The Dead Don't Die' to Cannes, the most financially successful work he brought to the festival was the "conventional" film with Murray.

Jim Jarmusch, 66, has been such a Cannes favorite that his latest film, The Dead Don’t Die, isn’t even the only film he’s had in competition that has "Dead"  in the title.

In 1995, the American director had the Western Dead Man, which notably featured Iggy Pop in the role of his career: Salvatore "Sally" Jenko, a Bible-quoting ("And I will smite thee and take thine head from thee"), cross-dressing fur trader. However, by far the most financially successful work Jarmusch brought to Cannes was 2005’s Broken Flowers, starring Bill Murray. It was Jarmusch’s eighth film at the festival. The $10 million Focus Features production went on to gross $47 million worldwide.

"Jim was a seminal artist and I’d long wanted to work with him," says Focus Features co-founder David Linde. "Broken Flowers was my first direct chance to do that, and coming shortly after working on Lost in Translation, the addition of Bill was incredible." The film’s plot involved Murray going on a four-city tour visiting former lovers.

"The journey is quite comical, in turns outrageous, unsettling and even a little surreal," said The Hollywood Reporter, which thought Flowers "could break Jarmusch out of the art house, but admirers might question the film’s overly conventional approach."

While Flowers was indeed more conventional, Jarmusch went about making it in his typically unconventional way. He told one interviewer that he wrote the film while listening to early 1970s recordings by Ethiopian jazz-funk artist Mulatu Astatke and a duo called CocoRosie, who he described as sounding "like two little Billie Holidays an octave higher if you were on acid in Tokyo in 1926." 

The Dead Don’t Die, billed as Jarmusch’s take on the zombie genre, opens this year’s fest. Whether it captures the Grand Prix, as Flowers did, remains to be seen.

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's May 14 daily issue from the Cannes Film Festival.