Bill Murray and Naomi Watts to lead dramatic comedy The Friend about mentorship, legacy, and unexpected death

Bill Murray and Naomi Watts team up to lead an adaptation of The Friend, Sigrid Nunez’s New York Times bestselling novel.

Last Updated on February 27, 2024

The Friend, Bill Murray, Naomi Watts

Bill Murray (Ghostbusters: Frozen EmpireGroundhog Day) and Naomi Watts (Mulholland Dr.King Kong) are ready to activate their Wonder Twin powers again for The Friend, a new dramatic comedy from director/writer duo Scott McGehee and David Siegel (Montana Story). Murray and Watts lead the project inspired by Sigrid Nunez’s New York Times bestselling novel, with Sarah Pidgeon (Tiny Beautiful ThingsGothamThe Wilds), Constance Wu (Crazy Rich AsiansThe Terminal List), Ann Dowd (Garden StateHereditary), and Noma Dumezweni (The Little MermaidDirty Pretty Things) filling out the primary cast.

According to Deadline’s exclusive reportThe Friend “follows a New York writer in the aftermath of her lifelong friend and mentor’s unexpected death. Thereafter, she’s left to deal with his complicated literary legacy, three eccentric ex-wives — and a massive, brokenhearted Great Dane named Apollo.”

For a more detailed description, check out the book’s synopsis:

When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.

Production for The Friend is happening in New York, with Siegel and McGehee producing via their Big Creek Projects studio. Watts is also a part of the producing effort through her 3dot Productions label.

McGehee and Siegel’s Montana Story focuses on two estranged siblings who return home to the sprawling ranch they once knew and loved, confronting a deep and bitter family legacy against a mythic American backdrop. The gripping drama stars Haley Lu Richardson (Five Feet ApartUnpegnantThe White Lotus) and Owen Teague (ItBlack MirrorBloodline).

Bill Murray returns to the Ghostbusters franchise for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, haunting theaters on March 22. Meanwhile, Naomi Watts features in Audrey Diwan’s Emmanuelle, which follows a woman and the series of erotic fantasies that she entertains. Jamie Campbell Bower and Will Sharpe also star.

Have you read Sigrid Nunez’s novel? Could you handle being in charge of someone’s belongings and legacy after they pass away? The Friend asks many poignant questions about life, death, and moving on. With Murray and Watts in the lead, this film could be an emotional powerhouse in the making.

Source: Deadline

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.