Bill Murray Could’ve Had Jack Nicholson’s Role in the ‘Toni Erdmann’ Remake
Over the weekend I had dinner with some friends (yeah, I don’t live in the internet; crazy, right?) and the topic of the Toni Erdmann remake came up, which led to brainstorming which writers and directors might be perfect for taking on a three-hour German father-daughter relationship comedy (Sarah Polley) — and which ones will likely wind up with the job (someone like Larry Charles or Paul Feig, I bet). And while Jack Nicholson emerging from retirement is super exciting, one friend suggested that, since the film doesn’t even have a script or director yet, Nicholson will back out at the last minute and the role will go to Bill Murray. As it turns out, what really happened was sort of the reverse.
In a recent interview with CNBC, Murray reveals that he was initially offered the father role in the remake of Toni Erdmann. Kristen Wiig (who’s playing the Sandra Hüller role in the US version) sent over a copy of Maren Ade’s Oscar-nominated German comedy. “She said, ‘Will you look at this thing?’,” and although he’s been towing the movie around while traveling, Murray says he still hasn’t gotten around to watching it. “I’m just not very organized,” he added.
For a 79-year-old actor who hasn’t appeared in a film since 2010 and has shown little interest in getting in front of the camera again, Jack Nicholson sure is motivated. While Murray was procrastinating and probably struggling to find a pair of matching socks in his travel bag, Nicholson was watching — and apparently loving — Toni Erdmann. Wiig and Nicholson will headline the remake, which Wiig is also producing alongside Jessica Elbaum, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.
But if this remake doesn’t start coming together in a satisfactory way in the reasonably near future, it’s not hard to imagine Nicholson blowing it off and Murray taking his place. The door certainly seems open for that possibility.