Bill Murray on Playing FDR: “Playing a beloved person, that really sets a high bar for your behavior and your acting and what you project”
I got to see Hyde Park on Hudson at the New York Film Festival, and while it’s far from a perfect movie (though it is, in my opinion, a very good one), Bill Murray‘s performance as Franklin Delano Roosevelt is among the best roles he has ever done.
Murray spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the challenge of playing the 32nd President of the United States and whether he hopes the role will bring him an Oscar.
According to Murray, one of the main challenges with playing such a revered figure is the fact that he is playing a revered figure. He explains, “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. 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.”
Many have seen Murray’s choice to play FDR as an “Oscar bait” role, a follow-up to his lone nominated performance for Best Actor in 2003’s Lost in Translation. However, Murray claims that he sees nominations and awards as an honor but not as important as the number of people who see the film. He says, “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. 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 opens in limited release on December 7, a day which otherwise lives in infamy.