Bill Murray regrets his Garfield role

Bill Murray’s “Garfield” Goof

Oh, the difference one letter can make.

It really was hard to ignore. When perusing the eclectic recent filmography of Bill Murray (“Broken Flowers,” “Lost in Translation,” “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”), Murray’s role as the voice of the title character in “Garfield” kind of stands out like a sore thumb. Why did the famously hard-to-track-down actor, who doesn’t even have a manager or publicist, agree to lend his voice to a movie starring a CGI cat and relative unknown, Breckin Meyer? Well, as it turns out, as he explained in an interview with GQ, he really just wanted to work with a Coen brother.

“I looked at the [‘Garfield’] script, and it said, ‘So-and-so and Joel Coen.’ And I thought…well, I love those Coens! They’re funny,” Murray says in the GQ article. “So I sorta read a few pages of it and thought, Yeah, I’d like to do that.”

But as any film buff can probably tell you, the writer in question wasn’t actually Joel Coen, the Coen Brother-writer of “The Big Lebowski” and “Fargo.” The “Garfield” writer was Joel Cohen (with an “h”), a writer of not-very-Coen-esque movies “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Toy Story,” and “Money Talks.” Regardless, Bill Murray told GQ he was shocked when he discovered his error.

“So I sat down and watched the whole thing, and I kept saying, ‘Who the hell cut this thing? Who did this? What … was Coen thinking?’ And then they explained it to me: It wasn’t written by that Joel Coen.”

As pointed out by Vulture, this doesn’t exactly explain why he agreed to the sequel, “Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties.” Was he fooled twice? He admitted, at the end of “Zombieland,” that “Garfield” was among his regrets in life. But he did enjoy working with Jennifer Love Hewitt — even if he couldn’t remember her name.

“At least they had what’s-her-name. The mind reader, pretty girl, really curvy girl, body’s one in a million? What’s her name? Help me. You know who I mean…” Murray said before being reminded of her name. “At least they had her in good-looking clothes. Best thing about the movie.”

Adding another layer of mystery to why he chose to take part in the “Garfield” movies: Murray isn’t exactly easy to book. He’s notoriously as choosy as about what movies he’ll star in as he is about making television appearances. He was the very first guest on The Late Show with David Letterman, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy to get him to return for repeated visits.

“Getting in touch with Bill Murray remains one of life’s greatest mysteries,” says Rob Burnett, executive producer of Late Show, where Murray has appeared 21 times. “The plus/minus on that return call can be anywhere from 24 hours to six months. That’s just how it is.”

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