To a distributor launching a prestige film in the fall, a berth in the first weekend of the Toronto Film Festival is like finding a Golden Ticket in a Wonka Bar. Toronto organizers want to do just that for the Ted Melfi-directed comedy St Vincent before its October 24 bow, and they also want to turn the premiere into a celebration honoring the work of its star, Bill Murray. Here’s the challenge: Nobody has been able to get hold of him. He has no agent, he’s got an attorney who’ll try to reach Murray, but even that is a problem because he apparently doesn’t have a cell phone. If this sounds far fetched, remember that Sony held up its Ghostbusters relaunch plans for about two years, waiting and hoping Murray would read the script and sign on (it’s unclear if he ever read it, but the studio got the message that he wasn’t interested in ghost busting and finally moved on). This St. Vincent is an exceptional project, and it’s a tour de force for Murray.
Melfi wrote it with input from Jack Nicholson, and when that iconic star said he just didn’t want to work anymore, he suggested Melfi chase Murray. I wrote in depth about how elusive Murray was, and then how spectacularly generous and engaged he became when he read Melfi’s script and sparked to starring in it. My understanding is that between Melfi, Harvey Weinstein and the producers at Chernin Entertainment, they’ve finally gotten word to Murray, who’s shooting the Barry Levinson-directed Rock The Kasbah. They are looking at a 6 PM gala premiere on that first Saturday, as part of an al-day retrospective honoring Murray, who’ll be joined by Melfi and cast mates Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Naomi Watts, and everyone else. I find it so refreshing that while just about everyone else jumps when Hollywood snaps its finger, Murray realized a long time ago he doesn’t have to. And so he doesn’t. Is the movie worth the fuss? Watch the trailer again and decide.