Ask anyone what their favorite Bill Murray movie is and you'll have as many different answers as people you know. Whether you prefer his goofier comedies, one of his many collaborations with Wes Anderson, or possibly his more dramatic turn in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, movie fans of every generation have their favorite Murray flick. However, one answer you'll probably never hear from anyone is Nothing Lasts Forever, which The New Yorker calls a "lost comedic masterpiece."
After a disastrous test screening, MGM shelved the project indefinitely, but screenings have popped up from time to time. In honor of a recent screening of the film in London, Little White Lies spoke with the film's star, Zach Galligan, to talk about the experience. Filmed in the early '80s, the film starred Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, and came directly from a writer on Saturday Night Live, which had all the makings of a success. Sadly, John Belushi had also been cast in the film but died shortly before shooting began, which cast the film shoot in a much more somber tone.
Galligan had anticipated a much more enjoyable atmosphere, saying, "Here I am, this 18-year-old kid who thinks he’s going to be part of this Saturday Night Live party, and really it was more like a funeral.”
Specifically, when interacting with Murray, who has gained a mythological existence over the years, Galligan didn't receive the warm welcome he expected when meeting a hero. “The way that Bill and I interacted…how do I put this…I would describe Bill Murray at that time, at least towards me, as deliberately insulting, condescending, dismissive, antagonistic," the star reveals. "He was clearly going through a difficult time personally; I actually just recently spoke to an actor who had worked with him on Tootsie, which Murray was shooting at the exact same time as Nothing Lasts Forever, and they told me he was very difficult to work with then as well."
However, Galligan doesn't take this personally, citing, "The explanation I’ve arrived at after all this time is, because we played nemesis in the movie, he thought that I would be completely in awe of him and so he behaved in a way which would counteract that. And it worked; I thought he was kind of a dick a lot of the time. But what he would then do is he would alternate between being really dismissive and nasty to me, and being really cheery and sunny and nice to me."
After gaining fame for starring in Gremlins, Galligan went back to college and had a chance encounter with Murray when he spotted him with Aykroyd filming Ghostbusters. When he approached his former co-stars, Galligan says, "In the most Bill Murray-ish way that you can imagine, Bill looks over at me and says, ‘He-hey! It’s the kid. What are you doing here young man?’ So I duck under the barricade and make my way over to the car, and Bill, Dan and I chat for around 10 or 15 minutes. Eventually Ivan Reitman comes over and goes, ‘Okay guys, let’s get back to work,’ so we hug it out and say goodbye and I turn and start walking away back towards the crowd. I’ll never forget the expressions on the other kids’ faces when I looked up.
The memory of that encounter has stayed with him all these decades later, admitting, "Sometimes real life is just as good as the movies."
[H/T Little White Lies]