TORONTO -- Bill Murray has spent the last couple of days at the Park Hyatt Hotel riding the tony establishment’s one working elevator and wandering the halls, moving from one interview to the next, surprising people he randomly encounters, charming women, basically being the Bill Murray everyone imagines from his long career in film.
“Everyone was looking at him. They all wanted something from him. And all he wanted to do was relax.”
It’s a quote, not about Murray, but a line concerning Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whom Murray plays in the new movie “Hyde Park on Hudson.”
PHOTOS: Toronto International Film Festival 2012
“There are a number of people who know a lot about him so I just kept reading until I couldn’t read any more, until I felt like, ‘OK, I’m stuffed,’ ” Murray said from the red carpet premiere of the film Monday. “It’s like dinner. You can eat so much. You can stop, take a break, eat a little more, have dessert later. You can have leftovers the next day. There’s a certain moment where you go, ‘I’ve got enough. I think I know enough about him.’ ”
Certainly, Murray’s research helped him convey the spirit of the private FDR. But also, on a deeper level, the 61-year-old actor must have fundamentally understood the nature of a well-known figure possessing a huge public persona and the expectations that go along with that.
“Hyde Park” concentrates on the June 1939 visit by King George VI (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) to America to plead the case for U.S. support against Nazi Germany. It was the first time a reigning British monarch had ever visited America, and the movie hinges on highlighting the differences between the subdued royals and FDR’s coarse coterie, which included mother, mistresses (fifth cousin Daisy, played by Laura Linney among them) and, of course, wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams).
The film has won respectful reviews, for the most part, from its screenings at Telluride, Colo., and Toronto, with special attention given to the difficult feat Murray pulled off.
“It’s hard to play an American icon,” Murray said at Telluride. “He’s on the dime!”