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Bill Murray was honored with the Maltin Modern Master Award at the 36th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Friday

By Maria Pasquini
April 03, 2021 01:15 PM
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Bill Murray has nothing but wonderful things to say about Sofia Coppola and Miley Cyrus.

As the actor, 70, was honored with the Maltin Modern Master Award at the 36th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Friday, he spoke about his deep respect for the filmmaker, whom he first worked with for the 2003 film Lost in Translation and again for the 2020 film On the Rocks.

"Well, I love Sofia. It's great because the longer I know her the more I love her and the more I get to love. I see that she's a real American woman," he said in PEOPLE's exclusive clip of his conversation for the SBIFF award, which honors an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry.

"A working mother, and an artist, and a sister, and a wife. She's all those things and I am none of those things, so it's kind of fun. I completely get to give myself up to it. I can really admire all things because I am not," the star continued.

Murray also mentioned how he admired Coppola for knowing "exactly" what she wants.  

"She's a delicate lady but she's a brute, an absolute brute to anyone who tries to get her off her intention. You can have a good idea and she will recognize a good idea but no matter how charming or flattering or powerfully you present a bad idea she has the aikido move to just say, 'Uh huh, no I don't think so.' And it's really fun to watch," he said, joking, "I don't get it much myself because I don't bother to try. I wait for when she's really weak like at the end of the day."

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(2020) on the rocks
Credit: Apple TV+

In addition to working together in 2020's On the Rocks, the pair also came together for the Netflix original holiday special A Very Murray Christmas

"That's a longshot to make a Christmas movie," Murray said of the 2015 project. "It can be incredibly disappointing. It can miss and fall and land flat."

"She squeezed strawberries and gooseberries of emotion out of all kinds of scenes. There was just emotional juice all over the place," he said of Coppola, who directed and helped write the film. "I just had faith. I mean, she far surpassed anything I thought anyone could possibly do with that idea."

As for working with Cyrus on the Christmas special, Murray said the singer's talent is the "real" deal.  

After pretending to struggle to come up with the singer's name, joking that all he "could come up with was Hannah Montana," the actor said that Cyrus was "stunning" to work with. 

"I don't want to hear anybody give me any grief about Miley Cyrus. Miley Cyrus is for real," he said, noting that at the time, he had been warned about her singing voice. 

"I remember when we did this thing, they said, 'Well they tweak her voice, it's done artificially. It's done in the studio,' " he recalled being told. "It's not true at all."

This year, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival will also be honoring Riz Ahmed, Maria Bakalova, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Andra Day, Sidney Flanigan, Vanessa Kirby, Tahar Rahim and Zendaya with the Virtuosos Award, an honor created to recognize a select group of talent whose noteworthy performances in film have elevated them into the national cinematic dialogue.

In addition, Promising Young Woman star Carey Mulligan will be recognized with the Cinema Vanguard Award, Mank actress Amanda Seyfried will be honored with the Montecito Award and directors Chloé Zhao, David Fincher, Lee Isaac Chung and Thomas Vinterberg will receive the Outstanding Directors of the Year Award.