In the mid-late 70s, Director, John Byrum was keen to make a film about ex-patriates in Europe.
At the same time, he was keen to work on a project with Saturday Night Live star and old friend, Bill Murray. John had sent a number of scripts to Bill but had received no interest.
This is the article that confirms the rumors that Bill Murray’s on-screen speech to his dead superior, Piedmont (Played by Brian Doyle-Murray) were words he had already spoken about recently departed friend, John Belushi.
Bill Murray’s Film Farewell to Belushi
‘He was a slob. Did you ever see him eat? Starving children could fill their bellies on the food that ended up on his beard and clothes. Dogs would gather to watch him eat. I never understood gluttony, but I hated it…I hated that about you. He enjoyed disgusting people—being disgusting—that thrill of offending people and making them uncomfortable. He was despicable. He will not be missed.’
This is an extract from an interview Bill Murray gave to Cosmopolitan Magazine in December 1984.
Bill Murray: More than just a Funnyman
Report by Chris Chase. Main photo by Dilip Mehta
“I wanted to do something different,” he says. “I didn’t think it was going to be such a big deal.” (Bill Murray)
Rob Cohen, executive producer of The Razor’s Edge, says that the story (based on a Somerset Maugham novel) “is about someone looking for values, asking, ‘is there a meaning to life?’. It seems at first that this is a bizarre thing for Bill Murray to be doing, but I think he has a specialness that has made him a wealthy man and a household word. And any comedic talent has to be somewhat bizarre, only because it sees life from an oblique angle.”
Catherine Hicks and Bill Murray at the Kissing Booth in The Razor’s Edge
Before his trauma in World War 1, Larry Darrell is a carefree and mischievous character.
Early drafts of the script show a very different version of Larry . John Byrum had written a character more in tune with John Winger from Stripes. Here is a scene cut from the farewell party at Lake Forest.
This interview is compiled from correspondence with the film’s Writer and Director, John Byrum.
John talks about the development of the script, the challenges of shooting in India and how he and Bill coped with the film’s critical and commercial failure.
“We thought too many films today are written by guys sitting in air-conditioned offices with bronze windows and directors who look at story boards and video tapes of other guy’s films. That works fine for them but we wanted to find a different process”
Bill and John travelled around America developing the script.
Bill Murray in Malibu writing The Razor’s Edge (Photo used with permission)
They worked in bars (where the jukebox would be on) , bus stations, restaurants, “we were constantly being interrupted by people saying ‘Hey aren’t you on Saturday Night Live?”. They went to practically every restaurant and bar in Manhattan, New Jersey, upstate, southern New York.”It got so we couldn’t work at home; it was too distracting”.
Columbia Pictures were clearly unsure how to market The Razor’s Edge to an audience still in love with Ghostbusters.
Bill Murray also seemed to be playing down the serious subject matter in some of his promotional interviews. Continue reading
Rolling Stone Magazine, 16th August 1984
Rolling Stone’s interview with Bill Murray gives the most detailed insight into the making of The Razor’s Edge. Particular focus is given to the location shooting in Srinagar and Ladakh, India in the summer/autumn of 1983.
Since 2005, I’ve been lucky enough to have the help of the Director of The Razor’s Edge, John Byrum.
He has offered plenty of insights into the production of the film, but one question I had never asked until now is how he first met Bill Murray.
“Bill and I are both from the North Shore suburbs of Chicago. Grew up just a few miles apart, but I never heard of him until one night in LA, Jessica Harper and I were watching the then fabled TV show Saturday Night Live and he was making his very first appearance as Chevy Chase’s replacement in the cast. Continue reading
In 1945, Author, W. Somerset Maugham traveled to Hollywood to write a screen adaptation of his recent novel, The Razor’s Edge.
20th Century Fox had purchased the rights to the book in October 1944 for $150,000, however, Maugham insisted on writing the screenplay for no fee, with only his expenses being paid. Maugham had seen adaptations of his earlier work, and was unhappy with the finished production. Maugham wanted this novel to be recreated as faithfully as possible. Whilst Maugham collaborated with Writer/Producer Lemar Trotti, he was surprisingly unprotective of his novel. Continue reading