Funny man Bill Murray, the legendary Academy Award nominated actor of such iconic films as “Stripes,” “Caddyshack,” and “Ghostbusters,” trekked out to the Hamptons for his newest film, “St. Vincent” which opened the 2014 Hamptons International Film Festival at Guild Hall in grand style. Never missing a beat Murray, dressed like he was about to go surfcasting in Montauk, and in typical Bill Murray style he do just that, one never knows, took the lead during the post film Q&A from HIFF Creative Director David Nugent.
“St. Vincent” is the story of Vincent (Murray), a miserable man who has lived a long life and has had better days. He is complex as an anti-hero who angrily swills whiskey one moment and gently care for his cat in the next. Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) is a runty boy in a new neighborhood, at new school, harassed by bullies, with no father in his life that he can respect. Megan McCarthy (Maggie) shines in a dramatic role as an over-burdened, suddenly single mom trying to find a way in Sheepshead Bay, NY. The premise is simple, Maggie and Oliver move in next door to Vincent, a grumpy curmudgeon with a penchant for strippers, bourbon, and betting on the ponies at Belmont. In desperation she enlists his help as a babysitter. Chris O’Dowd (Brother Geraghty) plays a Catholic priest who teaches at Oliver’s school and gives the class an assignments: to find real world saints, hence the title “St. Vincent.” Terrance Howard as a loan shark is convincing while Donna Mitchell’s performance as Vincent’s wife Sandy, a woman in the final stages of Alzheimer’s, is poignant. Naomi Watts (Daka), in a sharp departure from previous dramatic leading lady roles plays a raunchy, pregnant stripper, with an acceptable Russian accent who visits Vincent weekly, for a fee of course.
Sitting alongside director Theodore Melfi and young co-star Lieberher, Murray invited the audience to ask questions and to volunteer if they were, in fact, people who “work at night” like Daka’s character. A few guilty hands went up and beyond gushing over their love for Murray’s career, the co-stars were asked to talk a bit about what they learned from each other during the filming process.
Lieberher was first to offer up to much laughter that, “It was hard to keep up with [Bill]. It was fun to work on the movie, everybody was really funny.” Before the big dramatic scene in the movie, that was slowly building all along through the careful direction of Melfi, Lieberher explained that he was nervous. “Before the big speech scene Bill gave me a lot of candy and we meditated. I was nervous, there were a lot of people in the room.” Very poised on the stage at Guild Hall in a packed house, Lieberher was quick with his replies to Murray and Nugent. Next up for the young star, who has three films under his small belt, is “Confirmations.”
What did veteran actor Murray pick up from this smart 10-year-old? “[Jaeden] was always excited to come to work. The big speech was the entire day. It was a lot for a little boy, for anyone. He did the scene about 65 times and he went in there like a grizzled piece of bad meat. It was fantastic, It was beautiful. He taught me, reminded me I guess, nobody likes a whiner and that if you love your work you can do it no matter what the conditions are.” Sage advice from Murray whose next role hits screens in 2015 in a yet untitled Cameron Crowe project.