Recently Deadspin republished a 1978 profile of Martin Mull originally run by The New Times in 1978. The gist of the piece is that Mull was “almost famous,” a guy sort of perpetually on the verge of stardom without ever really achieving it, a career status he’s maintained through the years.
Anyway, hidden within the profile of Mull is an amazing anecdote involving Bill Murray. More specifically, Bill Murray going absolutely apeshit on Mull after Mull jabbered away through a live performance Murray was a part of.
A few years ago, Mull went to see the National Lampoon Show in New York. He sat right up front and talked with his friend, Peter Boyle, throughout the performance. When he went backstage afterward to congratulate the cast (which included John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray), Murray went berserk. He grabbed Mull around the neck and tried to choke him, screaming, “I’LL KILL HIM, I’LL KILL THAT FUCKER, HE TALKED THROUGH THE WHOLE THING, I HATE HIM!”
“As I recall, Bill had to be restrained by John Belushi,” says Michael O’Donoghue, who worked with Mull on an aborted project titled Lincoln: The Man, the Car and the Tunnel. “When Martin left the dressing room, Billy kept screaming after him, ‘Medium talent! Medium talent!’ Of such things show business legends are made.”
“I feel very bad about that show,” says Mull. “I’d had a bit to drink” (he doesn’t smoke grass), “and quite frankly, it was more amusing at that point to talk to Peter, whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. I confess to having been extremely rude, though not quite as rude as Bill Murray trying to strangle me afterward.”
Wanna know why Martin Mull never really became a star? This anecdote right here explains it all. People want to work with people they like, people who don’t annoy the sh*t out of them. Hollywood is no exception to that, and Martin Mull sounds like someone who’d be annoying to work with.
Now excuse me while I go go around yelling “medium talent!” at everyone who pisses me off today.