Bill Murray is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma — but the key is Quirk Books’ latest release about the actor. The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray by Robert Schnakenberg looks at all the awesome things that make Murray one of Hollywood’s most beloved comedic stars.
Murray crashes birthday parties, kickball games, and loves to belt one out with strangers in the karaoke room. He’s a prankster, known for telling people “No one will ever believe you,” but he’s kind enough to wash a college student’s dirty dishes. The Ghostbusters star is known for turning down roles without a glance, but he once agreed to voice the part of Garfield in a movie, because he thought it was for a Coen brothers film.
Here are some other big bad facts about the utterly charming funnyman that we learned about in Quirk’s September tome.
Murray turned down the role of Ted Striker in Airplane! even though he believed it would be successful. “This is gonna work, but it’s not,” he supposedly said. David Letterman also said no, and the part eventually went to Robert Hays.
If you’re wondering why Murray doesn’t surround himself with an entourage, it’s because he’s afraid he might get shot. “The first time I was ever given a bodyguard, I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to be assassinated. It made me think I was going to be shot. So I never liked it. I never liked the sensation of it,” he told the Detroit Free Press.
Like us, Murray has a thing about “awards fever.” He once said: “Awards are meaningless to me and I have nothing but disdain for anyone who actively campaigns to get one.”
“Lucy never really made me laugh,” Murray said to film critic Elvis Mitchell in a 2008 interview about famed comedienne Lucille Ball. “Lucy was never my girl.”
Murray was briefly considered for the part of Batman in Tim Burton’s 1989 film adaptation of the comic book character.
Murray was a badass even during childhood. He was kicked out of the Boy Scouts before he had a chance to get his uniform.
The film Caddyshack hits close to home for Murray. As a teenager, he had a job as a caddy at the upscale Indian Hill Club in Winnetka, Illinois. He made about four bucks for every golf bag he carried. Murray used the money to pay for his tuition at a private high school. His brothers had been caddies, too. So, Murray was known around the golf course as the “New Murray.”
Can you picture Murray as Max Cady in Cape Fear? We can’t either — but the comedian was the first choice for the part, chosen by director Steven Spielberg in a proposed early ’90s remake of the movie. Marty Scorsese took over the project, and Robert De Niro soon made us cringe when he did that creepy thumb-sucking thing with Juliette Lewis.
Murray is a longtime cigar smoker. He took up the habit during his caddy days and had his first smoke at 13 years old.
You won’t find Murray standing in line to buy the new iPhone anytime soon. He owns an old Blackberry, which he uses to text his immediate family — and that’s about it. Murray has no agent, so there’s no one to field his calls. There is a 1-800 number that people can phone and leave a message on an old-school voice mailbox, but he only checks it now and then. Director Wes Anderson is one of the few people to know the number. And it should come as no surprise that Murray also hates email.
Murray has attended funeral services for Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Hunter S. Thompson, and John Belushi.
When Murray met Ghostbusters co-star Sigourney Weaver for the first time, he called her “Susan,” threw the actress over his shoulder, and carried her down the street. “It was a great metaphor for what happened to me in the movie. I was just turned upside down and I think I became a much better actress for it,” she later said.
The actor is a big fan of North by Northwest star Cary Grant. Murray once spotted Grant in a restaurant during dinner with his agent in the 1980s, but wanted to play it cool and not bother the actor. “Later I met someone who told me, ‘Yeah, he knew you and he liked you. He thought your movies were good,'” Murray said.
Murray helped Groundhog Day co-screenwriter Danny Rubin to improve the film’s script over the course of several weeks while locked inside a New York City office. They played pick-up basketball games between writing. They also went on a road trip to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania — the setting of the film — to hang out with the locals and soak up the vibes. The scene in the finished film at the hotel about the hot water really happened during their stay.
You won’t find Murray in stage makeup. He’s convinced it causes skin cancer and has cited the death of famous clown Emmett Kelly as proof. But Kelly died of a heart attack at the ripe old age of 80.
Murray will only drink Mexican Coca-Cola, because it’s made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup. When he’s feeling fancy, he prefers Lanson champagne.
Look out Harrison Ford. Murray was one of several stars offered the role of Indiana Jones — along with fellow comedians Steve Martin and Chevy Chase.
Murray agreed to work on Wes Anderson’s Rushmore for scale, or $9,000 plus a percentage of the profits. According to the book, his salary at that time was about $9 million a picture.
Actress P.J. Soles gave Murray a copy of the script for Ron Howard’s Splash. He was offered the lead role. According to Soles, Murray flung it across the room in disgust. Tom Hanks eventually got the part.
Despite being a comedian, Murray has only performed stand-up one time. “It looked too miserable,” he once said about the experience.
Murray has six sons: Homer, Luke, Caleb, Jackson, Cooper, and Lincoln.
Sofia Coppola had to chase Murray down like anyone else hoping to talk to the actor when she offered him the part of Bob Harris in Lost in Translation. She left a lot of messages for him, but eventually enlisted the help of Wes Anderson and producer Mitch Glazer to convince him to take the part. He didn’t commit to the film until the last possible moment and didn’t show up on set until a week after the crew started filming.
Murray once called actress and screenwriter Elaine May the “most attractive woman in the world.”
The actor called The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou “the hardest job [he’d] ever had.” Murray caught a chill while shooting on location in Italy during the winter that lasted for four months.
Murray is a fan of director Terry Gilliam and was offered a part in 2013’s The Zero Theorem. He turned it down to work on The Grand Budapest Hotel.