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As if shooting your first lead film role doesn’t come with enough pressure on its own, imagine doing so while Bill Murray is trying his best to make you crack up.
That was Jaeden Lieberher‘s task recently, as the 11-year-old actor stars opposite the comedy legend in St. Vincent, released Friday by The Weinstein Co. But the young thespian was able to keep his composure.
Lieberher, who moved to L.A. from Philadelphia, landed a part in the upcoming Chris Evans rom-com Playing It Cool before starring in St. Vincent with Murray and Melissa McCarthy. He has recently shot roles in such upcoming films as the untitled Cameron Crowe-directed rom-com, which stars Rachel McAdams and Bradley Cooper, and the Kirsten Dunst–Joel Edgerton starrer Midnight Special.
On the weekend of the film’s release, Lieberher talked to The Hollywood Reporter about how Murray helped him relax during the shoot, what Murray stole from the set and what it’s like to see yourself on the big screen.
Were you familiar with Bill Murray and his work before you started working with him?
Definitely. My dad and I, we like to watch movies. So I loved to watch Groundhog Day and Ghostbusters.
What was Bill like to work with?
It’s fun to work with Bill. It’s definitely nerve-racking. But it’s really fun, and he’s really funny and nice.
Does he crack a lot of jokes on the set?
He makes everybody laugh on set, so all you hear is laughing [when you’re working] with Bill.
How was Melissa McCarthy to work with?
It was really nice to work with Melissa. She seems like a really great mom, in the movie and in real life. She’s super sweet. It’s cool to see her do something kind of serious because she’s usually in the really funny roles. [And St. Vincent director] Ted Melfi, he was really great.
Have you seen St. Vincent yet?
I just saw it a couple days ago. We were in the premiere in New York, and we went to the Toronto Film Festival, and that was the first time I saw it.
How was the Toronto Film Festival?
For my first festival, it was pretty crazy. I saw a lot of people, and there are cameras everywhere; I had to do so many interviews. But it was really fun.
What is it like to see yourself onscreen and hear the audience react to your lines?
I like to know what people are thinking about the movie. I like to hear them laughing — it’s really great. When I watch the movie, it’s kind of weird for me. It’s kind of weird to watch yourself on the screen.
Do you get nervous while watching yourself?
I’m definitely nervous, and I keep thinking, “Hm, should I have done that?” or “I just don’t know about that.” Little critiques.
Did Bill have any career advice for you?
He always told me to relax a little bit and have fun when I’m doing a movie. One time, I was doing a big speech [in a] scene, and it’s really long. It’s in front of a lot of people, and it was tough. So Bill took me aside, and we started meditating. He’s telling me to relax.
I wouldn’t have expected him to be into meditating.
Did he ever pull any pranks on the set, or did he tend to take things seriously?
He could be serious sometimes, but he could do some crazy things. One time, he stole a golf cart and started driving it on the horse race track. Naomi [Watts] was in the back, and the security was chasing him. It was really funny.
What was it like to shoot the Cameron Crowe movie?
Bill was there, so it was nice to see him again and work with him. I didn’t think we had any scenes together, but we worked the same day, so we just talked a little bit. It was a four-month shoot in Hawaii, so that was pretty amazing to be in Hawaii. Rachel McAdams was really nice, and Cameron Crowe was really great. He’s an amazing director.
Is it hard to have a real life and have friends when your career is so busy?
Before I stared acting — just doing commercials and not doing all these movies that took so long — I made friends in school, but now I’m doing online school. So I don’t meet anybody new. It’s hard.
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