At last night’s New York premiere of the Weinstein Company’s feel-good drama “St. Vincent,” star Bill Murray made it is his mission to let everyone in attendance know that the film’s writer-director, Theodore Melfi, was a first-time feature filmmaker.
Following the screening, Melfi — who before making “St. Vincent” had a handful of shorts to his name — touchingly recounted to the crowd at the Ziegfeld Theater that the film was inspired in part by true events. In “St. Vincent,” Melissa McCarthy stars as a down on her luck single mother who moves to a new town, enrolls her son, Oliver, (remarkable newcomer Jaeden Lieberher), into Catholic School, and enlists Vincent, her grouchy neighbor (Murray), to look after her son while she’s away at work most evenings. When her son is asked for a homework assignment to make a case for someone who’s worth of Sainthood, he chooses Vincent — much to the surprise of his mother. Melfi shared that when his brother passed away a few years ago, he adopted his daughter and placed her in Catholic School. She got the same homework assignment and chose her uncle.
But Murray was having none of the sentimental talk. Instead the actor did what he does best: make people laugh. Given Murray’s humor is as dry as cardboard, transcribed, his comments can be read as overtly mean spirited. They weren’t. Here are his hazing highlights from the evening:
In introducing the movie, Murray took to the stage with popcorn in tow.
“I have two bags of popcorn, not because the film is that long, but there was no telling when a first time director would shut up.”
On what most appealed to him about the script.
“The punctuation, I guess.”
But in all seriousness…
“The people sounded like real people. Ted is very earnest.”
Why he trusted Melfi.
“It takes a lot of energy to get even the worst motion picture made. I thought he had the kind of energy and enthusiasm to make the worst motion picture possible.”
On the best thing about working with a first-time filmmaker.
“Pushing them around cause they don’t know anything really. I guess the best thing about it was that he wasn’t ruined yet, but now he’s worked with Harvey Weinstein…”
On making independent films.
“It was a really hot summer in Brooklyn last year, it was brutal. It was an unpleasant time to work, and you work long hours. They call these ‘art films.’ It means you don’t get paid very well and you work terrible hours and the caterer isn’t usually very good. For this guy to show up every day and look us in the eye and say ‘Let’s do it again today.’ You gotta give him a point for that.”
On collaborating to make a movie.
“It’s like raising kids. You may like kids, but you raise them, right? They may not be well behaved but you’re stuck with them. Being stuck with a first time director is the same thing.”