Bill Murray, who’s film portfolio marks right up there as one of America’s most loved movie stars, claims it to be a challenge to play an icon as revered as President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Playing FDR was a type of role that appeared to be uncharted waters for Murray. We had seen his deadpan, understated demeanor in films ranging from Groundhog Day to Lost in Translation. So to take on the role of the larger-than-life FDR in Roger Michell‘s Hyde Park on Hudson, was to watch an actor truly branch out of his comfort zone.
“It’s hard to play beloved, you know? It’s much harder to play beloved than to play a rotten guy … so playing a beloved person, that really sets a high bar for your behavior and your acting and what you project,” Murray said Saturday before the film’s Lincoln Center screening.
Getting philosophical, Murray continued: “Because of that love, you don’t sorta want to disappoint that love. Because love can be eternal, so you have to respect that. It’s still out there. It’s still moving around. And you have to not do anything to deny that. You have to protect love — anyways, I sound like I should write this down — but you have to protect it. So you have to work your very hardest not to break that vibration. That feeling. That feeling is working for you and you have to maintain it, and you have to ride it and enhance it as well.”
While the 62-year-old actor has an Oscar nomination under his belt for his work in Lost in Translation, the award still remains out of Murray’s reach, (especially when dipping into Wes Anderson‘s Moonrise Kingdom doesn’t seem to scream Best Actor bait). But finally with Hyde Park, Murray’s FDR may very well land him another nomination and could be the victory we Murray fans hope to see.
“Well, people end up using (awards) as doorstops and weight in the trunk in case there’s icy weather. It’s nice to win. They’re fun to win, there’s no question about it … it’s just a certificate or a coupon, you know,” he said, as clusters of fans hover near the red carpet shouting: “We love you Bill!!”
“The most important thing is that people see the film, and so it’s exciting when people start talking that way because it means people will go see the movie to figure out what all the gab is about. You work hard, you want people to see it.”
Hyde Park on Hudson, which hits theaters in limited release Dec. 7, is inspired by real life events and revolves around the 1939 encounter between First Couple FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt (Olivia Williams) and the King and Queen of England (Samuel West is King George VI, with Olivia Colman portraying Queen Elizabeth). Laura Linney co-stars as Margaret Suckley, the distant cousin and rumored mistress of the president.