Eight brilliant true stories about Bill Murray

From The Telegraph:

1. Bill Murray walks into a bar…

For many years, the most popular line being peddled about Bill Murray was that he was a recluse. After Ghostbusters he became picky about his roles, taking years off between films; he never went to red-carpet events and rarely did interviews; he replaced his agent and PR with an automated phone line that he rarely listened to, leading to him losing roles simply because nobody could get hold of him; and when they did get his attention, directors would have to fax their precious scripts to his local office supply store. That said, Murray was no recluse. From 2007 onwards, he began turning his public appearances into a kind of performance art; a Marina Abramovic for liquored-up hipsters. He drunkenly crashed a stolen golf cart in Stockholm; he attended a student party in St Andrews, and did the washing up; he dived behind the bar at a film festival and served drinks with the Wu-Tang Clan; an entire website – billmurraystory.com – is devoted to tales of him crashing karaoke parties, joining kick-abouts in the park, and appearing from nowhere in restaurants to steal chips from a plate, before departing with the words ‘No one will ever believe you.’ It’s notable that none of these stories portray Murray in a bad light: he pays for drinks, keeps his hands to himself, and is sociable to a fault. He even kept his cool when a guest at a Brooklyn Halloween party accused him of ‘making bad life choices’ (this was 2008, the year of Murray’s second divorce). Rather than throw a movie-star tantrum, Murray simply had another dance, politely thanked his host and left.

2. The human special effect

After the New York premiere of Hyde Park on Hudson, Murray and the film-makers took questions from the audience. The film stars Murray as the crippled US president Franklin D Roosevelt, and one scene shows FDR swimming, his horribly wizened legs dangling under the water. According to US GQ, one audience member wondered how the special effects department had managed to make the limbs look so hideous. As the giggling from the stage quickly made apparent, no special effects were involved. Murray let the laughter die down. “That,” he said after a long pause, “is acting.”

3. The reason he made Garfield

Even bearing in mind his contrary nature and love of peculiar left-turns, Murray’s 2004 decision to follow his Oscar-nominated role in Lost in Translation by voicing the comic-strip cat in his first CGI outing (tagline: “Get ready for frisky business”) caught many by surprise. This, remember, was a man who had previously turned down the Buzz Lightyear part in Toy Story. What was he thinking? The answer came six years later, via an interview with GQ. Murray revealed that he read the first few pages of the Garfield script, written by a Joel Coen; he recognised the name from films like FargoRaising Arizona and The Big Lebowski, and said yes. When the time came to record his part, confronted with lines that ‘got worse and worse’, he asked to see the film. “Who did this?” he raged to himself. “What the f— was Coen thinking?” Then he was told: the name on the script was Joel Cohen, not Coen. In 2006 Murray made Garfield 2: A Tale of Two Kitties; so far, no explanation.

4. The Lost in Translation enigma

It’s one of modern cinema’s great unanswered questions: what, exactly, does Bill Murray whisper to Scarlett Johansson as they part ways at the end of Lost in Translation? Murray was left to adlib the line by Sofia Coppola and has never divulged what he said, despite being asked countless times. But his best answer so far was given to a man who spotted him boarding a ferry in Martha’s Vineyard and called out, “Bill, what’d ya say to her?” Just as the ferry’s foghorn blasted out, Murray began moving his lips and gesticulating ‘like I was saying something really sincere’. It got a huge laugh. (Audio enhancement has since indicated that the line is “I have to be leaving, but I won’t let that come between us, OK?”)

Continue reading the rest of the story on The Telegraph