Bill Murray Replaced by Steve Carell in Wes Anderson’s ‘Asteroid City’ After He Got COVID

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Bill Murray will not appear in Wes Anderson’s next film “Asteroid City” and was replaced by Steve Carell in the project, TheWrap has learned, and the reason was because Murray had tested positive for COVID-19 prior to filming.

Fans who noticed the full cast list for Anderson’s “Asteroid City” after Focus Features acquired the film earlier this week may have wondered why Murray’s name, who has appeared in nearly all of Anderson’s movies in some form, was conspicuously absent. It was even Murray who first let slip that the film was in fact titled “Asteroid City.”

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But a source close to the production says that Murray tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before “Asteroid City” went into production in September of last year, leading to the role being recast. It’s believed that Carell wound up as Murray’s replacement. Murray did not shoot any scenes for the movie prior to dropping out.

The individual adds that the reason for his exit is not connected to Murray’s incident on the Searchlight Pictures film “Being Mortal,” as directed by Aziz Ansari, which went on hiatus in April after it was reported that Murray was at the root of a complaint about unspecified “inappropriate behavior.”

While the nature of the inappropriate behavior was never disclosed, Murray addressed it in an interview and said that there was a “difference of opinion” in something he thought would be funny but was not taken that way.

“As of now we are talking and we are trying to make peace with each other,” he said back in April. “We are both professionals, we like each others’ work, we like each other I think and if we can’t really get along and trust each other there’s no point in going further working together or making the movie as well. It’s been quite an education for me.”

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“Asteroid City” is Anderson’s 11th film and will be released by Focus Features. The film is described as a poetic meditation on the meaning of life. It tells the story of a fictional American desert town circa 1955 and its Junior Stargazer convention, which brings together students and parents from across the country for scholarly competition, rest, recreation, comedy, drama, romance and more. The film is based on a story by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola.

The cast includes Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Ed Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Stephen Park, Rupert Friend, Maya Hawke, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, Margot Robbie, Tony Revolori, Jake Ryan, Grace Edwards, Aristou Meehan, Sophia Lillis, Ethan Lee, Jeff Goldblum, Rita Wilson and many more.

The film is produced by Anderson and longtime collaborators Steven Rales, founder of Indian Paintbrush, and Jeremy Dawson.

Variety first reported the news.

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