Searchlight Pictures has suspended production on “Being Mortal,” a new movie starring Aziz Ansari, Seth Rogen and Bill Murray, over complaints about Murray’s inappropriate behavior on set.
The studio sent a letter to the movie’s cast and crew on Wednesday, informing them filming had been suspended due to an unspecified complaint. “Late last week, we were made aware of a complaint, and we immediately looked into it,” the note said. Though sources at the time indicated the production halt was not COVID-19 related, nor did it pertain to Ansari or Rogen, it was ambiguous what caused the shutdown.
Searchlight Pictures declined to comment on the investigation. It is not clear if Murray will stay on board the film, or if he will be recast. Since principal photography started at the end of March, nearly half of the movie had been shot before production was ground to a halt this week.
While the nature of the complaint against Murray is unknown, this is not the first clash he’s been involved in on a film set. On the 2000 action-comedy “Charlie’s Angels,” star Lucy Liu reportedly confronted Murray for “hurling insults” at her following a rewrite of a scene without his knowledge.
Liu only recently addressed the incident for the first time last year, calling Murray’s behavior “inexcusable and unacceptable.”
“I stood up for myself, and I don’t regret it,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “Because no matter how low on the totem pole you may be or wherever you came from, there’s no need to condescend or to put other people down.”
Ansari, who created the Netflix series “Master of None,” is pulling quadruple duty on the film. He’s writing, directing and producing “Being Mortal,” in addition to acting in the movie. Searchlight is scheduled to release the film theatrically in 2023.
In Wednesday’s note to production, Searchlight said “We are truly grateful to all of you for everything you’ve put into this project. Our hope is to resume production and [we] are working with Aziz and [producer Youree Henley] to figure out that timing. Production will be in touch with you to share details on the wrap, and we will let you know as soon as we have more information to share.”
“Being Mortal” is based on Atul Gawande’s 2014 nonfiction book “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.” Gawande, a practicing surgeon, describes his book — about aging, patients’ anxieties regarding death and doctor’s tendencies to fall back on false hope — as having the potential to “change medicine — and lives.” Through reflections and personal stories, the book takes a look at the limitations and failures of modern medicine at the end of a person’s life. Plot details have not been announced. Thus, it is not clear who Ansari, Rogen or Murray will play in the film.
Ansari, the star of “Parks and Recreation,” took a break from Hollywood after sexual misconduct allegations were leveled against him in 2018. He since returned to film and television with “Master of None: Moments in Love” and his sixth stand-up special, “Nightclub Comedian.”