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Lucy Liu addressed the longstanding rumours that she and Bill Murray had an altercation on the set of their 2000 film Charlie’s Angels, and alleged that he used some “inexcusable and unacceptable” language towards her.
On the July 27 episode of the Los Angeles Times podcast Asian Enough, Liu said that the dispute with Murray happened when the cast was rehearsing a scene that had been reworked when Murray was absent.
“We had taken the weekend to rework that particular scene and Bill Murray was not able to come because he had to attend some family gathering,” she explained. “So it was everyone else, and we just made the scene more fluid.”
Because she was the last one cast in the film, she said that she had the “least amount of privilege in terms of creatively participating” (her co-star Drew Barrymore was an executive producer and Cameron Diaz was one of the most famous and highly paid actresses at the time). But even so, Murray allegedly directed his anger towards her after learning about the rewrites, and began to “sort of hurl insults” at her.
“I was, like, ‘Wow, he seems like he’s looking straight at me.’ I couldn’t believe that [his comments] could be towards me, because what do I have to do with anything majorly important at that time?” she said. “I say, ‘I’m so sorry. Are you talking to me?’—and clearly he was, because then it started to become a one-on-one communication.”
Even though she wasn’t in a position of power, she spoke up for herself when Murray used language that she called “inexcusable and unacceptable.”
“I stood up for myself, and I don’t regret it,” she said, comparing the experience to a difficult memory from her childhood when a salesperson spoke condescendingly to her immigrant mother. “Because no matter how low on the totem pole you may be or wherever you came from, there’s no need to condescend or to put other people down.”
The story of their clash has been retold for some time, but the actress felt that the media coverage about it felt one-sided and sexist.
“What came out in the press was that I was this and I was that. It was incredible to me how it was turned around, and they automatically thought that the woman was the difficult one,” she said. “But I didn’t understand how it got flipped when I had nothing to do with instigating it, or creating that platform of confrontation or anxiety.”
The story came back up into online discourse earlier this month when Shaun O’Banion, a production assistant on the Charlie’s Angels set, tweeted about what he allegedly saw happen between Liu and Murray. They wrote that Murray had belittled Liu’s experience in TV, saying “look who you’re in with here. You’re TV, and this is the big league.”
Murray addressed the rumours once in 2009, telling the Times of London that Liu was “unprofessional.” “I will dismiss you completely if you are unprofessional and working with me. … When our relationship is professional, and you’re not getting that done, forget it,” he said.
Liu, however, doesn’t regret what happened. She said that crew members who were on set that day came up to her “even decades later” to tell her that they were “really grateful” for what she did. And now, the fact that she’s speaking so candidly about the event — just as many other aughts-era actresses have recently done about incidents and misconduct on set, as well as their sexist and unfair treatment by the media — is an indication that the tide is shifting in Hollywood.
And as for her relationship with Murray, she maintains that they have no bad blood between them, but that she’ll continue to speak her truth. “I have nothing against Bill Murray at all. I’ve seen him since then at an SNL reunion, and he came up to me and was perfectly nice,” she said. “But I’m not going to sit there and be attacked.”
Refinery29 reached out to Murray for comment.
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