I am a woman I directed something It s rated R And a comedy And studio-released And I feel pretty…
In honor of Groundhog Day on Friday and this year’s silver anniversary of the iconic Bill Murray film, Harold Ramis Film School chair Trevor Albert popped out of a hole (or more likely an office with an ocean view) to reminisce about producing the 1993 comedy classic, history repeating itself, and what makes a story just as relevant 25 years later.
On that fateful day when you opened up the original “Groundhog Day” script, how did reading it make you feel?
I was given the script by an agent with very little fanfare. By the time I got to page 10, I knew I had stumbled onto something extraordinary. It was love at first sight. When I was finished reading, I immediately called my partner Harold and told him I had a script he might like. I didn’t hype it at all, but I couldn’t wait to see if I was crazy or not.
You and Harold Ramis worked together on a number of films. Did partnering so frequently ever start to feel like living the same experience over and over? How did you manage to keep your joint creative forces aligned?
Yes! Working with an incredibly nice, funny guy got really annoying after a while! Creatively, we had our share of disagreements, but Harold was a great collaborator and he loved to laugh, so the partnership worked.
The film, which turns 25 this year, was chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Film Registry. You know what other film is on that list? Citizen Kane. Do you think comedies have always gotten the same respect as “serious films”?
It’s a peculiar thing about comedies. Movies that shine a stark, dramatic light on the human condition are often considered “important,” but movies that satirize and make light of the human condition are usually considered trivial and frivolous. Both can ultimately be entertaining and illuminating, but personally, I prefer my medicine with a little sugar. Particularly right now, with so much divisiveness and darkness in country, we need the clowns and the court jesters to help us get through the day. So yes, comedy is undervalued in our culture, and it ain’t right!
Why do you think the film is just as beloved today as it was when it came out? Or do you think it’s actually aged into its relevance–rather than grow dated–like some comedies do?
Hmm. I’m not sure. A fair amount of alchemy goes into making a movie, in addition to all the hard work. There are so many variables at play, and you just hope that it all adds up in the end. Similarly, that same unpredictability, that mystery, carries over into the reception of a movie. “Groundhog Day” opened to decent reviews. It did moderately well business, but by no means was it a critical or commercial smash. Time has been very kind to the film, and I’m very appreciative.
Be honest: Do you ever tune in to watch the Punxsutawney Phil pomp and circumstance?
We do our own ceremony at home, but instead of using a groundhog, I use my pug.