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Murray says outbursts are spurred by empathy

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Actor Bill Murray

Actor Bill Murray

Louis Lanzano, Associated Press

Bill Murray gets defensive when told he has a reputation for being difficult.

"If it keeps obnoxious people away, that's fine," he tells Time magazine. "It makes me think of that line 'you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.' People say this to you with a straight face, and I always say, 'Who. Wants. Flies?' "

Murray, star of "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou," grew up in a blue-collar family. He suggested that his outbursts are generally spurred by an empathy for the underdog.

While on the set of Jim Jarmusch's new film — not yet titled — Murray got into a quarrel with the location manager when he arrived at a rented house for a scene with child actors and discovered there was no heat. When he started a fire in the fireplace, the location manager told him to stop.

" 'Who are you?' " Murray said he told her. "She said, 'I'm locations.' I said, 'Well, if locations had done their job and made sure it was warm enough for these people, we wouldn't be lighting a fire in the fireplace.' "

At the movie's wrap party, the 54-year-old actor-comedian approached the woman. "I said, 'You know, we had our moment, and I don't apologize for that for a second.' " But she had excelled at other aspects of her job, and Murray told her so. "I wanted to let her know I could see it both ways."