Saturday Night Live alumnae Laraine Newman and Jane Curtin opened up about a ‘painful and awful’ backstage fight between their costars Chevy Chase and Billy Murry on Thursday’s Watch What Happens Live episode.
Newman, 69, and Curtin, 73, were both part of the inaugural cast that featured Chase, while Murray replaced him in the sketch show’s second season after he left to pursue a film career.
According to the comediennes, the tension between the comic legends turned physical backstage shortly before a 1978 episode in which Chase, 77, returned to host.
Dressing room showdown: SNL vets Laraine Newman, 69, and Jane Curtin, 73, recalled a dramatic fistfight between Chevy Chase, 77, and Bill Murray, 70, on Thursday’s episode of Watch What Happens Live
Host Andy Cohen teed up the topic after inviting a viewer to ask about the infamous brawl.
Newman recalled that she and Curtin had seen the fight, which broke out in John Belushi’s dressing room, along with their late costar Gilda Radner.
‘It was very sad and painful and awful,’ she said, which Cohen compared it to watching family members fighting.
‘It was that same kind of tension that you would get in a family,’ Curtin continued. ‘And everybody goes to their corners because they don’t want to have to deal with the tension. And it was uncomfortable.’
‘It was very sad and painful and awful’ Newman told host Andy Cohen of the fight, which took place in John Belushi’s dressing room
Out for blood: Curtin described Murray and Chase as ‘two bull mooses going at each other’ and said, ‘the testosterone was surging and stuff happens’
Tense situation: Curtin (center) called the comedians ‘two bull mooses going at each other’ and said ‘the testosterone was surging’; still from the 1978 episode in question
She described Murray, 70, and Chase as ‘two bull mooses going at each other’ and said, ‘the testosterone was surging and stuff happens.’
The two were tight-lipped when it came to what exactly started the fight, but Newman said cryptically, ‘I think they both knew the one thing that they could say to one another that would hurt the most, and that’s what I think incited it.’
Despite the unprofessional moment, Cohen noted that Murry and Chase worked again together in 1980s Caddyshack, where ‘everything worked out,’ though the two share few scenes in the classic golf comedy.
According to Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad’s history 2015 book Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live, Chase’s guest appearance on SNL was fraught, as cast and crew members were angry that he had left the show suddenly after its first season.
He didn’t help matters when he tried to take back his old Weekend Update segment from its new host, Curtin, and he also admitted that his drug use on set made the situation tense.
Fighting wordsMurray reportedly insulted Chase’s marriage, while Chase made fun of his appearance. Belushi took most of the blows as he tried to break them up; seen on a 1980 episode
Bygones be bygones: The two buried the hatchet while filming their hit 1980 comedy Caddyshack, and they’ve since said they’re now friends
Murray reportedly instigated the fight late in rehearsals leading up to Saturday’s show by telling Chase that everyone on set disliked him, before making a jab about his marital troubles.
Chase then shot back with an insult about Murray’s appearance.
Just before Saturday’s broadcast, the National Lampoon’s Vacation star confront Murray in Belushi’s dressing room, but Belushi jumped between the two to break up the fight and reportedly took most of the physical blows.
Since burying the hatchet on Caddyshack, the two comic legends have since become friends.
‘We’ve never been close, but we’ve been very friendly, we play golf together,’ Chase said during a 2008 appearance on The Howard Stern Show. ‘I think we’ve made an effort over the years to get to know each other better and to put that stuff behind.’
Murray also downplayed the impact of the fight in a 2012 interview with Empire Magazine.
‘It was really a Hollywood fight, a “Don’t touch my face!” kind of thing,’ he explained. ‘It was an Oedipal thing, a rupture. Because we all felt mad he had left us, and somehow I was the anointed avenging angel, who had to speak for everyone. But Chevy and I are friends now. It’s all fine.’
Old pals: ‘We’ve never been close, but we’ve been very friendly, we play golf together,’ Chase said during a 2008 appearance on The Howard Stern Show’; seen in 2015 in NYC