Spotlight on Bill Murray & my Top Five Favorite Roles

BillMurrayBday It was Bill Murray‘s birthday this past Saturday, he turned 63. I know it’s a bit late but I can’t resist making a tribute to the comedian whose practically a legend. I’ve always been a big fan of the Illinois native, he’s perhaps my favorite SNL-grad (he’s one of the original members) who’s made it big in Hollywood. Murray’s one of those comedians who’s just naturally funny. His deadpan expression alone is just hilarious, which he certainly puts to good use in various roles that have achieved cult status over the years. He’s apparently not just quirky in his roles, but Mr. Murray seems to be just as amusing in real life. You’ve got to check out this awesome infographic that I found on HuffingtonPost site Click the larger image to view the entire thing.

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There’s also a site aptly called BillMurrayStory.com… with a tagline ‘no one would ever believe you‘ 😀 Very few actors have become a cultural phenomenon of sort. I remember reading how people all over the states were making banners to invite Mr. Murray to their parties as he’s been known as a party crasher! Now, before I posted clips of my favorite roles from the 6’2″ actor, here are some interesting trivia that you might not know about (thanks to IMDb):

BillMurrayLostInTranslationSofia Coppola wrote the lead role of Bob Harris in Lost in Translation (2003), with Murray specifically in mind. She did not know the actor and even enlisted the help of her famous father, Francis Ford Coppola, to track down the sometimes quite elusive Murray. Once he finally read the script, though, he agreed to do it on the spot. Murray and Sofia Coppola are now good friends.

He has rubbed some collaborators the wrong way because he has a tendency to re-write and improvise his way through scripts until many of his scenes barely resembles the original versions. Most collaborators ultimately find, though, it’s to the improvement of the films.

Has no agent, no business manager, or favorite hair and make-up artist. He travels without an entourage.

Was considered for the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne in the 1989 Batman film when it was set to be identical to the 1960s TV Series before Tim Burton came along. He’s also considered for the role of Han Solo in Star Wars (1977).

Turned down Steve Carell’s role in Little Miss Sunshine (2006), which became one of the few choices in his career that he regretted.

Was considered and tested for the voice role of Sulley in Monsters, Inc. (2001), but the director, Pete Docter, said that when the filmmakers decided to offer it to Murray, they were unable to make contact with him and took that to mean “no”.

Was a frequent collaborator with Harold Ramis throughout the 1980s, but their working relationship ended during the filming of Groundhog Day (1993) due to differing views on what the film should be: Ramis claims that Murray wanted the film to be more philosophical, while Ramis himself simply meant for it to be a comedy. Ramis also cites that Murray’s personal problems at the time (namely the ending of his first marriage) had a negative effect on his work ethic, causing him to be uncharacteristically harsh during filming, as another reason for the end of their working relationship.

Appeared in Zombieland (2009) as a favor to Woody Harrelson, movie co-star and big “Bill Murray” fan.

Now, I can’t really remember when I first saw Bill Murray. Most likely it’s in Ghostbusters (1984) as my brothers were a big fan of that movie. I still need to see a lot more of his films, especially the two by Wes Anderson that I missed out on: Rushmore and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. But out of about a dozen roles, here are five of my favorites (in alphabetical order):

BROKEN FLOWERS

This is the only film by Jim Jarmusch I saw so far. Murray plays a womanizer who received an anonymous letter from a former lover informing him that he has a son who may be looking for him. This is kind of a road film of sort following his journey to visit his old flames. The female cast is pretty awesome here, esp. Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone and Tilda Swinton. Murray’s performance is quite restrained here and more reflective, but his deadpan mannerism is perfect for the role of Don Johnston who’ve lived his life on auto pilot. This scene with Lange and her cat is particularly amusing. http://youtu.be/kRg5-TIF9LQ

GHOSTBUSTERS

You can’t talk about Bill Murray’s career and not mention his early iconic role. I saw this years ago as a kid but his role with fellow SNL cast member Dan Aykroyd is always fun to watch. Murray plays a lovable wiseguy like nobody’s business and Peter Venkman got the best lines in this Ivan Reitman’s comedy classic.

GROUNDHOG DAY

This is one of his films that never seem to get old! As someone who’s made a career out of sarcastic and insolent antiheroes, his performance as Phil Connors is downright iconic. His dry ironic humor is full on as the frustrated weather who find himself living the same day over and over. It’s absolutely hilarious but at the same time, the poignant and philosophical aspect makes this a compelling watch worth revisiting year after year. This is one of my favorite scenes ever! http://youtu.be/6VF5P7qLaEQ

LARGER THAN LIFE

The premise of this movie, about a guy who inherits a circus elephant, lends itself to hilarity. Bill Murray manages not to be upstaged by the adorable Vera the elephant. The funniest parts are when Murray’s character Jack and Vera hit the road in order to deliver the elephant to a San Diego zoo. Along the way, they encounter a psychotic truck driver, played by an unhinged Matthew McConnaughey in perhaps his best comedic role he’s ever done. The scene at the truck stop alone is worth a watch! http://youtu.be/XVV18VB9cFo

LOST IN TRANSLATION

I think if I could only name one BEST Bill Murray performance, I’d have to say this one. I mean there are some truly hilarious scenes but there’s a layer of vulnerability that he captured as the faded movie star Bob Harris that’s just as compelling to watch. His tentative relationship with a young woman who’s disillusioned with her new marriage is wonderfully written. I always say this is my favorite role of Scarlett Johansson as well. Seems that this film isn’t for everyone though. I actually recommended this film to a couple friends who didn’t find it enjoyable nor funny. For me though, the two scenes below at the photoshoot and in his hotel room with a Japanese female escort had me in stitches! I can’t imagine anyone else playing this role. http://youtu.be/gXGXZiX0pCA http://youtu.be/lPQ6VQzuyxU

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • The Royal Tennenbaums
  • The Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Moonrise Kingdom


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So what’s YOUR favorite Bill Murray role(s)?