A more muted Aziz Ansari quietly returned to the stage last month with his latest Netflix stand-up special, Nightclub Comedian, and he’s apparently eager to keep the momentum going. While the special earned lukewarm reviews, Ansari is already moving on to the next step: starring in and directing a Bill Murray movie.
Per Deadline, Ansari is readying his directorial debut, an adaptation of the nonfiction book Being Mortal: Medicine And What Matters In The End by surgeon Atul Gawande. Ansari will star in the film alongside Murray, the elusive comedian, who, infamously, doesn’t have a manager and shows up at weddings to steal drinks. The 2014 New York Times bestseller approaches medicine from a quality of life perspective, examining aging, nursing homes, and hospice care. Sounds perfect for a hilarious Aziz Ansari-Bill Murray buddy comedy.
Like Ansari, Murray spent 2021 working. Last year, he came close to buckling under the weight of his proton pack in Ghostbusters Afterlife. Thankfully, the ghost-catching backpack didn’t impair his back too much because Murray gave The French Dispatch its beautiful spine—even if it was too good for Oscar voters.
During Ansari’s time in the woods, he stayed mostly quiet on the sexual misconduct accusation published and removed by Babe.net in 2018. Fans were left unsure what to do with Ansari after that. For his part, he said the experience gave him “perspective” and made him “a better person.” He promised to “be more thoughtful and aware and willing to go that extra mile and make sure someone else is comfortable in that moment.” However, since then, he’s dipped into the myopia of “cancelation,” touching upon the issue on stage but never setting the record entirely straight.
While this is Ansari’s first movie directing gig, it isn’t his first time behind the camera. He’s directed numerous episodes of his Netflix series, Master Of None, including the extended Bicycle Thieves riff in season two. More recently, he received raves from The A.V. Club for Master Of None Presents: Moments In Love. Reviewer Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya pointed to Ansari’s direction specifically for the five-episode season’s success. She wrote:
Throughout the series, the unembellished camerawork, use of long single shots without cutaways, and acute attention to detail in the set and props makes every scene feel intensely intimate [...] Props feel like much more than set dressing, and the house feels like a character itself. The physical details may be simple, but they’re meaningful, and they’re coupled with detailed character work.