The Charlie's Angels fight is the stuff of legends. For 20 years now, rumors have swirled around the altercation that happened between Bill Murray and Lucy Liu on the set of the big screen adaptation of the hugely popular '70s TV show. Recently, Shaun O'Banion, a verified production assistant who worked on set at the time of the fight, told his version of the tale. He claims to have been in the thick of it, and his claims do not put Bill Murray in a very good light.
"Basically, Murray rewrote a bunch of scenes without telling anyone (including Drew who was a producer). He put the new pages in everyone's trailers & everyone came to set wondering where the hell the new pages had come from. Murray was the last to step on stage and by that time there was already mass confusion. McG (director) was pissed that no one had consulted him. The AD's were also pissed. Drew's producing partner came in and Murray was like, "what's going on?" McG was like, "did you get new pages in your trailer?" And Murray was like, "No. But I put new pages in everyone else's trailer." Drew and her partner were pretty upset by this."
"Murray was like, "I'm making it better, ok? You've got, like, 16 writers on this thing..." and [Lucy Liu] spoke up, saying something like, "This is way out of line." Murray turned and said, "I don't know what you're complaining about. I gave you more lines. I mean... look who you're in with here. You're TV... and this is the big league." At that point Lucy shouted, "Fuck you, you fucking cocksucker!" And the AD's promptly cleared the stage as Lucy ran off the stage crying."
"Cameron was trying to be the peacekeeper and protect Drew as the AD's cleared the stage. Of course all of us in production had to stay inside to keep people out. I love Bill Murray(and had worked with him before), but what he said to her was totally uncalled for. Really belittling and shitty. This was pretty early in the process too, and the crew already really liked Lucy (and Cameron and Drew). Anyway. No punches were thrown. At least not physically. He later apologized though not entirely sincerely imho."
Shaun O'Banion's account sets up his expressing the repercussions of being the squeaky wheel when you are part of a marginalized group. He writes of the double standards leading to lingering permanent effects on the careers of the powerless person against the elite with their "unchecked ego run amok."
Many actresses that came forward against Harvey Weinstein were discovered to have had their careers sabotaged by him. Peter Jackson came forward after Harvey Weinstein was exposed for sexual harassment and assault to say that Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino had both been in the running in the late 1990s for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Jackson had been discouraged from working with the actresses by Miramax Films. Both Judd and Sorvino were some of the first actresses to come forward with allegations against Weinstein.
John Boyega's impassioned speech at a Black Lives Matter rally in London's Hyde Park mirrored the same worries, "I'm speaking to you from my heart. Look, I don't know if I'm going to have a career after this, but fuck that." For the last 20 years the Charlie's Angels story said the conflict ended with Lucy Liu physically attacking Murray. And her career did take a hit. Finding out that she tried to stand up for herself and her fellow artists, ending in tears, and suffered the lasting consequences, while sad, does show that times are changing. It would be hard to say what the outcome would be today.
Actor Crispin Glover appeared in both Charlie's Angels and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle as the Thin Man. He felt he had some suggestions for making the film better. This is how he did it. "The dialogue was just expositional," he recalls. He told the director, McG, that the character should be played as a mute and he, somewhat surprisingly, agreed. Glover ended up playing the villain silent, battling Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz. This is collaboration.
Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen standing up for their talent and replacing Bill Murray for the sequel is slowly becoming the expected outcome of these acts of misconduct. Shaun O'Banion coming forward and giving his honest account of professional misconduct is another step in the right direction. But waiting 20 years to build a career and his own production company before speaking his truth shows we still have a long way to go. This story originated at The Mary Sue.