With each passing day, the likelihood that Aziz Ansari’s directorial debut “Being Mortal” will finish production and reach audiences seems to shrink.
The production was paused in April due to complaints of unspecified inappropriate behavior on set from Bill Murray, with Searchlight Pictures using the hiatus to conduct an investigation. Murray soon apologized for his “insensitive” conduct, but declined to offer details about the alleged incident.
However, a new report from Puck this week alleged that Murray’s conduct may have been worse than was previously speculated.
“This much younger woman, Murray felt, had been flirting with him,” the report read. “So at one moment when the two were in close proximity near a bed that was part of the production, Murray started kissing her body and straddling her. It was perhaps an unclear bit of physical comedy, but one that was unannounced. She couldn’t move because he outweighed her, she alleged. Then, he kissed her on the mouth, although when he did so, both Murray and the woman were wearing masks, owing to Covid protocols.”
The news makes it all but impossible for such a high profile production to continue with Murray in the cast, and the report also suggested that Disney (which owns Searchlight) isn’t eager to devote more resources to a film that has become a PR headache. It’s possible that the film could remain unfinished and end up as a Hollywood “what if” story, but some of the cast is still holding out hope that it will be completed.
In a new interview with Variety, Keke Palmer, who stars in the film, explained that the film would need some serious changes to be finished (though she did not directly reference the allegations against Murray).
“[Ansari] would probably have to do a major rewrite, but I know what we got was gold,” she said. “Obviously, we got cut short at a certain point but I will say that I am pretty devastated. It’s an amazing film. If there is some way to be able to complete, salvage it, I would want to do it.”
While rewriting and completing the film would be a daunting task, Palmer still has faith in her director.
“If somebody could figure it out, it would be Aziz,” she said.