The details of the encounter between Bill Murray and a production staffer that led Disney’s Searchlight unit to abruptly shut down production of Aziz Ansari’s directorial debut “Being Mortal” in April have been revealed in a report from Puck.
Murray, 72, had become “particularly friendly” with a much younger woman on the production staff — not actress Kate Palmer, as some speculated — and believed she was flirting with him, the report said. At one point, when they were near a bed that was used on the set, Murray started kissing her body and straddling her, Puck revealed.
Both were wearing masks due to COVID protocols, the story said.
The legendary funnyman has publicly maintained that he intended the encounter as a joke. “I did something I thought was funny, and it wasn’t taken that way,” he told CNBC a few days after filming was shuttered. “The world’s different than it was when I was a little kid.”
The woman did not find any humor in the situation, and instead viewed it as entirely sexual, Puck reported, stating, “She was horrified.”
She made a complaint, backed up by a second staff member on the production who witnessed the incident and also reported it.
Filming on “Being Mortal” was shut down a few days later after the complaint made its way to executives at Disney. Murray reportedly paid settlement of “just north of $100,000” to the woman.
“Notably, the deal included another component besides a non-disclosure agreement: The woman agreed to waive any legal claims she might make against the producers of “Being Mortal,” including Searchlight and Disney,” Puck reported.
The details of the allegation came to light days before the fifth anniversary of the #MeToo movement, and as disgraced Hollywood titan and convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein faces a new trial in Los Angeles for 11 counts of sexual assault stemming from allegations by five women. At the same time, the civil trial of Kevin Spacey on accusations brought by Anthony Rapp has entered its second week in London.
Murray reportedly “felt terrible” that his actions sent the film into limbo and cost his co-workers to essentially lose their jobs.
Meanwhile, “Being Mortal has languished in purgatory,” Puck reported, “and neither Searchlight nor Ansari has said whether the under-$20 million film will move forward.”
The film, based on Atul Gawande’s nonfiction book “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End,” was slated for release in 2023.