Five True Stories About Mr Bill Murray
Mr Bill Murray in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, 2005. Photograph by REX Shutterstock
In the pantheon of Hollywood actors, there are few figures as peculiar, and peculiarly revered as Mr Bill Murray. The Illinois-born actor, who cut his teeth on Saturday Night Live in the late 1970s, and later rose to fame for his starring role as Peter Venkman in the original 1984 Ghostbusters, has become a fixture in popular culture thanks his hilarious, wildly unpredictable and semi-improvised performances as well as his knack, in his late career, for picking projects that are destined for cult status, such as Ms Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation and Mr Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers.
However, it’s not just Mr Murray’s on-screen appearances that have contributed to the considerable personal mythos that surrounds him. Approaching life itself as if it were some kind of surreal indie movie, he’s spent much of his 65 years gently trolling friends, acquaintances and members of the general public with his puckish, unexpected and downright baffling behaviour, resulting in a huge number of stories about times he turned up to parties uninvited, or intervened in wedding photos, or ducked behind a bar to serve people drinks. In new book The Tao Of Bill Murray, Rolling Stone contributing editor Mr Gavin Edwards collects some of the best such stories (at least, of the ones that can be verified), arguing, via a set of 10-step “Tao” principles that, as he puts it “Bill Murray is secretly teaching us how to live.” Scroll down for a taste of just some of the weird and wonderful tales about Mr Murray that can be found within, or for the full inventory, you can pick up a copy of the book from 20 September.
He did wash the dishes that time
An oft-repeated story about Mr Murray is that he crashed a student party and proceeded to wash the dishes. This is true, it happened in 2006, though he was actually invited, by Norwegian St Andrews undergraduate Ms Lykke Stavnef. And he washed up because the place was a mess. Mr Edwards quotes the man himself on the incident: “If you walk into someone’s house, do all the dishes and leave, then you feel like you’ve made a contribution.”
He hired a deaf personal assistant
Though Mr Murray’s 1993 comedy Groundhog Day has since become a cult classic (and a musical, no less), it had a somewhat troubled production, with Mr Murray disagreeing with director and former Ghostbusters co-star Mr Harold Ramis. The results of the feud were… interesting. “Bill went incommunicado from the movie’s creators, not returning phone calls and dodging production assistants,” writes Mr Edwards. “It was suggested to Bill that everything might go more smoothly if he hired a personal assistant, so he wouldn’t constantly be bothered by details and logistics. He assented, but in a totally unhelpful way: he hired a profoundly deaf woman. She couldn’t communicate orally, and nobody working on the movie knew American sign language.”
He had a run-in with the Swedish police…
… for drink driving a golf cart at through the streets in the middle of the night. This was in 2007, when Mr Murray was in Stockholm to watch the golf Scandinavian Masters (now known as the Nordea Masters). To be fair, according to Mr Edwards, Mr Murray turned out to be under the legal limit for the US when his blood sample was taken – so how was he to know? When he was pulled over, Mr Edwards writes, the actor said: “I’m sorry, but where I come from you have to act stupid or goofy or hit something or drive erratically or something – you’re just assuming that I’m drunk because I’m driving a golf cart at 3.30 in the morning.”
He can talk like a gangster (in Japanese)
Though Mr Murray’s character in Lost In Translation is utterly unable to communicate with most of the people he meets in Tokyo, the actor himself bought a phrase book with him for the trip. It was called Making Out In Japanese, and contained various scurrilous sentences no tourist would ever usually dare utter. “One phrase that proved particularly potent,” writes Mr Edwards, “was ‘Dare-ni mukatte mono itten-dayo’, which translates as ‘Who do you think you’re talking to?’ It’s a line generally delivered by someone with considerably more status or power… If a yakuza (a Japanese gangster) said it to you, a better translation might be ‘Now you’re going to die.’” Naturally, Mr Murray used this knowledge to terrorise fellow hotel guests, in particular a man who complained about his early morning singing. When Mr Murray spoke to him in Japanese, says Mr Edwards, the man went completely white, “ran down the hall, slammed his door, locked it, and didn’t emerge again”.
He Calls Mr Mitch Glazer every time Road House is on
Mr Murray is evidently fond of a prank call – in The Tao Of Bill Murray there are several reports of him phoning people in character, or using a strange accent. His most long-running prank, however, is likely the one he continues to play on Mr Mitch Glazer, a Hollywood writer and producer, whose wife, the actress Ms Kelly Lynch, has a steamy love scene with Mr Patrick Swayze in the 1989 film Road House. Every time Mr Murray sees the film on television, he makes sure to call Mr Glazer, speaking in the voice of Carl Spackler, the character he played in Caddyshack, to inform him his wife is sleeping with Mr Swayze, right now. As Mr Glazer tells Mr Edwards in the book, “It was kind of funny, the first dozen or so times.”