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The Myth, the Man, the Murray
by Tim Josephs

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There are certain actors that when you see a commercial or trailer for an upcoming movie they're going to be in, you get excited, either because they almost always choose good movies and/or you just find them personally appealing. For me one of those actors is Bill Murray for both of those reasons.

With all due respect to people like Steve Martin and Steve Carell, Murray might be the best comedic actor working today. Of course everyone knows him from his days on Saturday Night Live and all those great 80s comedies he made. But as he's aged, he's taken on different, more serious and thought-provoking roles like the ones in LOST IN TRANSLATION and BROKEN FLOWERS. Lately, though, it's been nice to see him go back to the silliness that made him known in small roles in GET SMART and ZOMBIELAND.

Recently I read an interview with him where he talked very candidly about his work and other people's as well. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits.

Kind of an eccentric, Murray has his own 800 number. Getting that number is probably difficult
enough, but if you want him to call you back, you have to leave an intriguing enough message.

Best movie he's seen lately? KUNG FU HUSTLE, which he calls "the supreme achievement of the modern age in terms of comedy. There should have been a day of mourning for American comedy the day that movie came out."

On the long talked about GHOSTBUSTERS 3: Apparently it was going to be written by the same guys who wrote Harold Ramis' YEAR ONE. Murray said he didn't see it "but people who did, including other Ghostbusters, said it was one of the worst things they had ever seen in their lives. So that dream just vaporized. That was gone. But it's the studio that really wants this thing. It's a franchise. It's a franchise, and they made a whole lot of money on GHOSTBUSTERS."

[And so perhaps it's no surprise that the movie is happening after all; it's listed as "announced" for 2012.]

On doing GARFIELD: In addition to being offered a lot of money, he signed on because he thought it was written by Joel Coen of the Coen Brothers. After reading some
lines and seeing just how unfunny the movie was, he said "'Okay, you better show me the whole rest of the movie, so we can see what we're dealing with.' So I sat down and watched the whole thing, and I kept saying, 'Who the hell cut this thing? Who did this? What the fuck was Coen thinking?' And then they explained it to me: It wasn't written by that Joel Coen." Murray did think the movie had one good thing going for it: "the pretty girl, really curvy girl, body's one in a million." (Jennifer Love Hewitt).

When the subject of television was brought up, Murray rather shockingly revealed that he'd never watched Seinfeld until the last episode and thought it "was terrible. I'm watching, thinking, "This isn't funny at all. It's terrible!"

On fellow Chicago native John Hughes: "I was kind of surprised they gave him a big thing at the Oscars" but "THE BREAKFAST CLUB is really an American gem, though. An amazing film. As important as any of Marty [Scorsese]'s movies. It's just a real fuckin' piece. And those
kids were never better than that, and he let 'em roll."

On Judd Apatow: Murray says that a friend told him that Apatow really wants to make a movie with him, but the only Apatow film he's ever seen is CELTIC PRIDE which he called "just brutal. Totally brutal. And Danny [Aykroyd]'s in it! Danny doesn't even know how many players are on a team in basketball. And he's in this movie? Oh my Jesus mercy."

Finally, Murray's asked about rumors of him sneaking up behind people in New York City, putting his hands over their eyes, and saying "Guess who?" When they turn around to see who it is he says "No one will ever believe you" and then walks away. (This supposedly happened to a friend of a friend of mine). Murray's response is pleasantly ambiguous: "I've heard about that from a lot of people. A lot of people. I don't know what to say. There's probably a really appropriate thing to say. Something exactly and just perfectly right. But by God, it sounds crazy, doesn't it? Just so crazy and unlikely and unusual?"

A good way to sum up the man himself.

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Oct 15, 2010 8:37 AM
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Funnymen are easy to spot. UNfunnymen are easier to spot. Bill Murray is easy to spot. Thanks. great column.
Oct 15, 2010 3:18 PM
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Thanks, Jon.

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Movie Musings
Every other Tuesday

Thoughts, observations, conjectures, complaints about movies and mostly how they relate to me personally. If you're looking for something a little broader, try Ebert.

Other Columns
Other columns by Tim Josephs:

So Long 2013, and MatchFlickers!

The Season for Peace, Presents, & Puncture Wounds

Women are Once Again Kicking Ass

Chewing the Scenery

The Greatest President We Never Had

All Columns

Tim Josephs
Born to write (literally much to the displeasure of his mother, he emerged with a pencil clutched in one tiny fist), Tim spends most of his days crafting epic monosyllabic poems, new comical titles to his favorite Beatles' songs (Hey, Dude), and angry letters to local businesses that have wronged him in some way. He's really an okay guy once you get to know him.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Tim Josephs by clicking here.

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