Bill Murray mulls Oscar prospects as Roosevelt

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Directed by Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”), “Hyde Park on the Hudson” is told largely through the eyes of Roosevelt’s spinster cousin (Laura Linney), a confidant of the president. The film opens in U.S. theaters in December.

Murray’s sister had polio, the disease that crippled Roosevelt, so the actor said he had a strong sense of how to play the president’s body language as he struggles on crutches, is pushed about in a wheelchair or is curled like a child in the arms of aides who lift him in and out of cars.

Capturing Roosevelt’s voice was the bigger challenge. Murray worked with a voice coach to break down the unusual mix of vowel sounds in Roosevelt’s speech.

“It’s upstate New York, it’s a little bit of Dutch in it, because he’s Dutch. It almost sounds Scandinavian. They’ve got kind of an `oot’ and `aboot’ thing, like Minnesota, Wisconsin, in there sometime,” Murray said. “It’s just an inconsistent voice. It jumps around a little bit, so you had to be kind of flexible with it. I just tried to get as much of it in me as I could.”

The intimate film shows Roosevelt in private life, so Murray wasn’t called on for any grand oratory.

Though he was ready for some public speaking of his own at the Oscars for “Lost in Translation,” Murray has a practical attitude about the value of his awards prospects this time: If he’s got Oscar buzz, it will draw audience attention to the film.

“It was OK that I didn’t win, and I don’t have any hard feelings about it. It was like, `OK, that was cool, I’m fine. I’m fine with the way my career’s gone. I’m happy with it. It’s gone great.’

“The great thing about the Oscars that’s cool is it means people are going to see your movie. That’s really the deal.”

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