The weather outside was frightful in New York City on Wednesday night with rain and heavy fog, but the Yuletide cheer was so delightful at the Paris Theatre premiere of “A Very Murray Christmas,” an original Netflix special directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Bill Murray.
The “Ghostbusters” actor, 65, received big cheers and applause for his performance in the holiday spoof that pays homage to the 1960s and ’70s era when Bing Crosby and Andy Williams would croon Christmas carols and engage in seemingly impromptu duets with their famous friends for a one-night only television event. Murray sings and charms in nearly every scene of the hour-long special, which starts streaming Dec. 4 on Netflix.
“I was surprised by how well I sing,” Murray told Variety at the Paris Theater. “I realized when you feel free, it’s like singing in the shower, and everything sounds better and there is more confidence. I just had fun and it made singing the songs a little easier. The person who really made it possible for me is Paul Shaffer. He helped me sing every song to a new level. He had great confidence in me.”
Murray reunites with Coppola, his “Lost in Translation” director, for the throwback special along with Mitch Glazer, who wrote Murray’s 1988 film “Scrooged” and his recent comedy “Rock the Kasbah.” The three penned “A Very Murray Christmas” after merging the idea of doing a TV variety-hour show with Coppola’s dream of filming Murray singing, Chet Baker-style, at Manhattan’s famed Bemelmans Bar inside the Carlyle Hotel.
“I love when Bill sings and I love seeing him in a tuxedo,” said Coppola, 44. “There’s melancholy and joyfulness when Bill sings and I wanted to do something that would show that side of him. We don’t see it often.”
Viewers may be surprised that Murray has a long history of singing. As a high school teen, the actor was the lead singer in a rock band called The Dutch Masters. He also recorded the song “The Best Thing” on the soundtrack of John Waters’ 1981 film “Polyester.”
“Bill can really sing,” said Glazer, 62. “The lounge guy is based on and a riff on Bill’s own talent. He’s a real natural. He had a few rehearsals with Paul and was ready to record the music and sing with the cast.”
The special was filmed inside the Carlyle Hotel last March in just three days with a star-studded cast featuring Chris Rock, Miley Cyrus, Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Michael Cera, Maya Rudolph, Jason Schwartzman, Jenny Lewis and George Clooney, who sings and dances to Albert King’s classic “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'” with Murray.
Cyrus channeled Princess Leia on the red carpet with her faux braided blond buns and (much skimpier) white dress.
|Miley Cyrus on the red carpet at the premiere of ‘A Very Murray Christmas.’
Gregory Pace/REX Shutterstock
“George is the best. The stuff he does in the show, [he did] without any encouragement and he gave us so much,” said Murray. “He’s so solid. He does this funny kind of shrug [while singing] and the guy’s got the most beautiful shrug in the business.”
Not only does the show feature A-list stars, but Murray says his Christmas special will no doubt leave viewers in the holiday spirit and in a romantic mood.
“If you ever are going to have a Christmas show that you are going to watch with another person, and you are going to turn to them and kiss them and they are going to kiss you back,” he said, “this will be that show.”
Following the screening, Netflix executives and the show’s cast members capped off the night by celebrating at the Carlyle Hotel. Murray rocked out to an impromptu performance by David Johansen while Coppola enjoyed the company of her father Francis Ford Coppola, her brother Roman Coppola, an executive producer on show, and her husband, rocker Thomas Mars, by her side. White gloved waiters served chicken skewers, hamburger sliders and poured endless glasses of Mionetto Prosecco to guests that included Jake Paltrow, Kelly Lynch, Fred Armisen and Natasha Lyonne.