Bill Murray was reluctant, unhappy with script for ‘Meatballs’

Camp counselor Tripper Harrison is one of Bill Murray’s most iconic roles, but the actor was less than thrilled with the idea of spending part of his summer break from Saturday Night Live to film the movie (he wanted to golf and play baseball) and even less enthusiastic when he finally got around to reading the script.

While the 1979 movie Meatballs is today known as a comedy (and summer camp movie) classic, Murray showed up to the production at Camp White Pine in Ontario in 1978 less than thrilled with the rumpled script he had in his back pocket, according to a recent Chicago Tribune article.

From the article:

“Up to that moment, I wasn’t really sure he had read it. The first thing that he said was, ‘This is crap,’ ” says Reitman. “The first scene is where he’s introduced to the CITs (counselors in training). He did the script but he changed every single line.”

Murray would largely improvise the film’s famous “It just doesn’t matter” speech, and at one point, Reitman got a closer look at the actor’s copy of the script. He had scribbled the letters “SOT” on almost every page. It stood for “Same Old Thing.”

“The first mistake people make is to think because he is so spontaneous and puts on an air of not caring that he doesn’t care. But the fact is, he really does care about the work and is very precise and professional about how he conducts himself,” says Reitman. “He hated guys who went for the most obvious. He’d say, ‘I’ve seen that before. I’ve seen some version of that before. It’s the easy joke.’ “

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at and I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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