The actress shared her perspective on the matter for the first time, on an episode of the Los Angeles Times podcast Asian Enough, hosted by Johana Bhuiyan, Tracy Brown, Suhauna Hussain and Jen Yamato.
Liu said her clash with Murray came about during rehearsal on a scene which had recently been reworked, without Murray’s knowledge.
“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.
“I wish I had more to do with [the rewrite], but I didn’t,” she continued. “Because I was the last one cast, and I probably had the least amount of privilege, in terms of creatively participating at that time.”
While Liu didn’t specify what Murray said to her during rehearsal of the scene, she confirmed reports that the actor started “to sort of hurl insults” at her, after learning of the rewrites.
In the moment, the actress had difficulty processing what was happening. “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.”
From Liu’s perspective, some of the language Murray used “was inexcusable and unacceptable.” She therefore decided to speak up, in spite of the fact that she was one of the lesser-known actors on set.
“I stood up for myself, and I don’t regret it,” she said. “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.”
Liu related the incident from the early years of her career to a moment from her childhood, when her immigrant mother was spoken down to by a “condescending” salesperson.
Liu said she isn’t sure her response to the incident was linked to that earlier experience. “But I don’t want to be that person that is not going to speak up for myself and stand by the only thing that I have,” she explained, “which is my dignity and self-respect.”
The actress later addressed media coverage in the immediate aftermath of the incident, noting that it came off as 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 recalled. “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.”
Even if certain media reports were not on her side, she took solace in feedback from collaborators on Charlie’s Angels, who appreciated her response, as a young star in the middle of a difficult moment. “I remember years later, maybe even decades later, some crew members that I didn’t even know at the time came up to me on other sets and told me that they were there at the time,” she shared, “and they were really grateful that I did that.”
Liu went on to share that she has reconciled with Murray. “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.”
Murray last told his side of the story to The Times of London, all the way back in 2009. “Look, I will dismiss you completely if you are unprofessional and working with me,” he said. “When our relationship is professional, and you’re not getting that done, forget it.”
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