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Interview with "Lost in Translation" Star Bill Murray

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Bill Murray in Lost in Translation movie

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in "Lost in Translation."

Focus Features
American actor Bill Murray stars as American movie star Bob Harris in Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation." Set in Japan, "Lost in Translation" follows two strangers (Murray and Scarlett Johansson), both insomniacs, who meet in a hotel bar and strike up a surprising friendship.

BILL MURRAY INTERVIEW:

What was the biggest challenge in expressing this character’s issues?
We’ve seen a movie where there’s a guy who’s conflicted and he’s married [and] he’s away. The thing for anybody who’s ever been married and away - whether you’re a man or a woman - you’re married and you’re away, so what does that mean? Does that mean you don’t meet people? Does that mean you don’t talk to them? Does that mean you don’t have interchange? Does it mean you don’t flirt with them? Does it mean you don’t talk to them? Is it wrong to be up in the middle of the night with someone that’s not your spouse? Well, if you’re 13,000 miles away, all of a sudden it’s like what else am I going to do? It sort of comes to that. And then there’s this moment where you kind of go, “Oh, we could sort of tumble down and end up complicating things more. Are we going to do that?” Then [it’s] like, “Well, I don't know. It’s not really on my mind. I’m just sort of lonely, really.” So you go a little further and you spend more time with someone.

As an actor, and as a writer/director, the question is is it going to be very noble here? [Is] this guy going to say, “I just can’t call you. We can’t share room service anymore?” Is it going to be like that sort of thing, or is it going to be a little more real where they actually get really close to it?

I think there’s one interesting scene - well, there’s a lot of interesting scenes - but there’s sort of a tricky scene where they’re in the same room and they’re watching “8 ½” and they’re talking about stuff. I’ve been in this situation before and I’ve seen people do it. I’ve seen other people do it in other movies. I know that you sort of want to, because you’re so close to somebody… It’s so promising. It would be so easy to do this right now and all I’d have to say is, “My wife is a bitch. My wife is a pain and my kids drive me nuts. I love them but they drive me nuts.” And that, to me, was the moment where, “Okay, how is this guy going to be respectable and not in a politically correct way, but in a way that I can feel like it’s true?” It validates all the complication of it. It’s going all the way and just saying, “Okay, and there’s more to it than this. Even though you’re with a beautiful girl and it’s the middle of the night in Tokyo, you’re never going to be one of my kids. Once you know that, now what are you going to do? Let’s get that straight.” Instead of saying, “This is the end of the conversation. I’m not going to walk out the door and slam it or anything. It’s just matter of fact. This is who we are.”

I think he’s also a guy that ends up having too much to drink and he ends up with a crazy dingbat singer. These are the nightmares that people have. These are the nightmares that people live through. So it’s not like he’s flawless or anything, but he’s trying. He picks his fights and he fights as much as he can, like anybody.

Page 2: Japanese Comedians and "Lost in Translation's" View of Celebrity

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