Bill Murray Virtually Receives Maltin Modern Master Award

Bill Murray Virtually Receives Maltin Modern Master Award title=
Leonard Maltin (left) interviewing Billy Murray (right) for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (courtesy photo)
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By edhat staff

Academy Award-nominated actor Bill Murray virtually received the Maltin Modern Master Award during the 36th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Murray was honored for his long-standing contributions to the film industry, most recently in the role of Felix Keane in Sofia Coppola’s "On the Rocks" opposite Rashida Jones and Marlon Wayans, for which he received Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice nominations.

True to Murray's form, when asked where he was currently located for the interview, he quickly said a Screen Actor's Guild Safehouse and he arrived in the trunk of a car.

After showing a montage of clips from iconic films and roles that have made their way into the zeitgeist, Murray said he grew up watching actors and comedians that he didn't quite understand by later grew to love. Jack Benny was a little dry for a 10-year-old but later I saw how his timing was so precise, he said.

Maltin asked him about some of his first breakout roles in "Caddyshack" and "Tootsie." For "Caddyshack" he acknowledged his brother wrote the script and helped him get the role and credits Dustin Hoffman for the success of "Tootsie."

Murray's joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1976 for its second season. When transitioning to movies from live comedy shows he said the biggest struggle was telling a joke and not hearing a laugh for nine months.

The cult classic "Groundhog's Day" is played on television every year on February 2nd and Murray said he's quite proud to have cornered the market on that holiday. He referred to the film as a "spellbinding comedy" and joked about when filming they were always waiting on co-star Andie MacDowell's hair. She really has the greatest hair and her performance is really really really good, he said.

Perhaps the most famous film for its continuous iterations is the original "Ghostbusters." Murray said the cast had a lot of fun messing up New York for a few months and because of their ghostbuster uniforms people actually thought they were legitimate. 

Murray also made a cameo in the 2016 remake "Ghostbusters: Answer the Call" with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. He said the actresses are some of his favorite funny people and he sat in amazement watching them improv.

The first Academy Award nomination Murray received was for Coppola’s "Lost in Translation" in 2004 which also earned him a Screen Actors Guild nomination, a Golden Globe and BAFTA award, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He is also a six-time Golden Globe Award nominee and a three-time Screen Actors Guild Award nominee. He has gone on to star in nearly 70 feature films. Murray has already received some great reviews of his latest role as Felix Keane in Coppola’s "On the Rocks," Murray received some of the best reviews of his career.  

To officially hand off the virtual award, Coppola joined the discussion and thanked Murray for all his work and dedication to the film industry.  

The Modern Master Award was established in 1995 and is the highest accolade presented by SBIFF. Created to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry, it was re-named the Maltin Modern Master Award in 2015 in honor of long-time SBIFF moderator and renowned film critic Leonard Maltin.  Past recipients include Brad Pitt, Glenn Close, Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Bruce Dern, Ben Affleck, Christopher Plummer, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, Will Smith, George Clooney and Peter Jackson.

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, will take place March 31st through April 10th, 2021 online and at two free ocean-front drive-in theatres. More information, festival passes and tickets are available at

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