Bill Murray turned 65 earlier this week and so we thought it was only fitting to dedicate this week’s spotlight article to the much-loved actor and comedian.
William James “Bill” Murray was born on 21st September 1950. He began his acting career with The Second City in Chicago, an improvisational comedy troupe, headed by Del Close and at the age of 24, he moved to New York and was recruited by John Belushi as a featured player on the National Lampoon Radio Hour. His real step up the ladder came from working for NBC’s Saturday Night Live, when in 1976, he officially became part of the cast. He stayed with Saturday Night Live for three seasons from 1977 to 1980 and even received an Emmy Award for his work there. The success of his Saturday Night Live comedic career led him to star in several comedy films, such as MEATBALLS (1979), CADDYSHACK (1980), GHOSTBUSTERS (1984), SCROOGED (1988) and GROUNDHOG DAY (1993).
GROUNDHOG DAY is an American fantasy comedy directed by Harold Ramis and Murray is known for his role in this film as Phil Connors, an arrogant TV weatherman. During an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, he finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again. After indulging in hedonisme and committing suicide numerous times, he begins to re-examine his life and priorities. In 2006, the film was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
It was then in 1998, when Murray first stepped into the quirky world of Wes Anderson in RUSHMORE. This was just the beginning of the fruitful relationship between the actor and director. Since then Murray has gone on to appear in several other Wes Anderson films such as THE ROYAL TENAUNBAUMS (2001), THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU (2005), THE DARJEELING LIMITED (2007), FANTASTIC MR FOX (2009), MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012) and THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014). In fact, along with actor Owen Wilson, Bill Murray is the most recurring actor in Anderson’s films.
After the critical acclaim Murray received for RUSHMORE he decided to take a turning point in his career where he decided to embark on more dramatic roles. The most famous was his appearance in Sofia Coppola’s LOST IN TRANSLATION in 2003, earning him several awards, such as the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a leading role and Independent Spirit award for best male lead. The scene where he whispers something to Scarlett Johansson at the end of the film is one of the biggest mysteries of recent film history, even Coppola, the director doesn’t know what was said during the improvised moment. More recently he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in the 2014 film ST VINCENT, where he plays Vincent MacKenna, a Vietnam war veteran and retiree who is a smoking and gambling alcoholic.
Murray is known for his somewhat eccentric nature, detaching himself from the Hollywood scene. He has neither an agent nor manager and prefers to be contacted directly through a personal telephone number with a voice mailbox, which he check regularly for offers of scripts and roles. Though this method has meant he has missed out on such films as LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (directed by Jonathon Dayton and Valerie Faris), he still has a prolific film career under his belt. When asked about this system however, Murray seemed content with his inaccessibility, stating, “It’s not that hard. If you have a good script that’s what gets you involved. People say they can’t find me. Well, if you can write a good script, that’s a lot harder than finding someone. I don’t worry about it; it’s not my problem”. It is exactly with this nonchalant and carefree attitude that he took four years out of his film career to study philosophy and history at La Sorbonne in Paris. How random!! But it is just in this way that he represents the independent spirit so well, something that we love here at ÉCU!