Groundhog Day Producer Recalls 'Tense Shoot' Due to Conflict Between Bill Murray and Harold Ramis
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Groundhog Day producer Trevor Albert is recalling how the late Harold Ramis and star Bill Murray developed a conflict during the making of the beloved classic.
As the comedy approaches its 30th anniversary, Albert recently recalled to The Hollywood Reporter that Murray, now 72, "appeared to be in a tough place" while filming Groundhog Day, per the outlet's own phrasing.
"It was a tense shoot for a number of reasons," the producer told THR. "It was unfortunate and probably made the movie considerably less fun to make. But you can still make a very good movie when people are not in perfect harmony."
Albert's recollection of Murray and Ramis' rift is not the first time those who worked on the production have spoken about their differences. The pair, who had previously collaborated on Caddyshack (1980) and Ghostbusters (1984), began disagreeing as they began working together on the Groundhog Day script.
Ramis even sent the film's original screenwriter Danny Rubin to work with Murray on the script after he grew tired of receiving calls from Murray at 2 a.m., and Murray would pretend not to be available when Ramis tried to check in, according to a 2004 The New Yorker article on Ramis' career.
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"At times, Bill was just really irrationally mean and unavailable; he was constantly late on set," Ramis told The New Yorker at the time. "What I'd want to say to him is just what we tell our children: 'You don't have to throw tantrums to get what you want. Just say what you want.' "
Rubin told the outlet at the time that Murray and Ramis' disagreements on the project — the film follows the story of a cynical TV weatherman (Murray) who finds himself reliving the same day over and over again — stemmed from disparate interests in how to approach the film's subject.
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Murray "wanted it to be more philosophical, and Harold kept reminding him it was a comedy," the screenwriter said.
Though Groundhog Day ultimately proved a success, Murray and Ramis did not speak for years after they made the movie. The duo only reunited months before Ramis' death in 2014, according to Variety.
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Elsewhere in the THR interview, Albert recalled that Creative Artists Agency president Richard Lovett first suggested Groundhog Day's script to him and Ramis, leading the pair to take on the project in the first place.
"I don't remember much about what I was doing 30 years ago — or three years ago — but I remember sitting down and reading that script, and by the time I got to page 20, yelling to Harold, 'I think I have a script you're gonna want to read,' " the producer told THR.
"And that's how we found an unexpected gem," he added.