In Case You Missed It!

Comedic icon Bill Murray — famously without an online presence or an offline management/representation system to deal with all of us, and infamously famous for showing up in the most likely and unlikely of places — combined both of these traits to do the most trendy thing of all: A Reddit AMA. On a Friday night. He did so, compelled by the publicity team behind Monuments Men (in a cinema near you on Feb. 7), he claimed.

Everyone has rushed out their listicle compilations of 8,9,10,14 “things we learned from Bill Murray’s Reddit AMA,” but how do they know what we will learn?

Because if you want to know what makes Bill Murray tick, you’re going to read the entire thing and still not really know, anyhow.

In the meantime, here are his answers more specific to comedians and fans of comedy…(questions condensed for clarity, answers to fit)

someone asked “what movie was the most fun to act in” and deleted their comment, so here goes:

Well, I did a film with Jim Jarmusch called Broken Flowers, but I really enjoyed that movie. I enjoyed the script that he wrote. He asked me if I could do a movie, and I said “I gotta stay home, but if you make a movie that i could shoot within one hour of my house, I’ll do it.”

So he found those locations. And I did the movie.

And when it was done, I thought “this movie is so good, I thought I should stop.” I didn’t think I could do any better than Broken Flowers, it’s a film that is completely realized, and beautiful, and I thought I had done all I could do to it as an actor. And then 6-7 months later someone asked me to work again, so I worked again, but for a few months I thought I couldn’t do any better than that.

I’m also a great fan of Wes Anderson and I was wondering why you always go back to work with him? I think you’re a great pairing but what made you both click?

I really love the way Wes writes with his collaborators, I like the way he shoots, and I like HIM. I’ve become so fond of him. I love the way that he has made his art his life. And you know, it’s a lesson to all of us, to take what you love and make it the way you live your life, and that way you bring love into the world.

What is one of your best memories of meeting a fan?

The best experience with a fan? It happens sometimes where someone will say “I was going through a really hard time. I was going through a really hard time, and I was just morose or depressed.”

And I met one person who said I couldn’t find anything to cheer me up and I was so sad. And I Just watched Caddyshack, and I watched it for about a week and it was the only thing that cheered me up. And it was the only thing that cheered me up and made me laugh and made me think that my life wasn’t hopeless. That I had a way to see what was best about life, that there was a whole lot of life that was wonderful. And I happen to know (from her own spirit) that that person has really triumphed as an artist and as a human being, and if it’s just a moment when you can reverse a movement, an emotion, a downward spiral, when you can quiet something or still something and just allow it to change and allow the real spirit rise up in someone, that feels great.

I know I’m not saving the world, but something in what I’ve learned how to do or the stories that I’ve tried to tell, they’re some sort of representation of how life is or how life could be. And that gives some sort of optimism. And an optimistic attitude is a successful attitude.

Garfield??!?? Explain, please.

Someone asked “will there be a Garfield 3?”

I don’t think so. I had a hilarious experience with Garfield. I only read a few pages of it, and I kind of wanted to do a cartoon movie, because I had looked at the screenplay and it said “Joel Cohen” on it.

And I wasn’t thinking clearly, but it was spelled Cohen, not Coen.

I love the Coen brothers movies. I think that Joel Coen is a wonderful comedic mind.

So I didn’t really bother to finish the script, I thought “he’s great, I’ll do it.” So then it was months before i got around to actually doing it, and I remember i had to go to a screening room in somewhere, and watch the movie and start working. And because they had had trouble contacting me, they asked my friend Bobby to help corral the whole situation together. So Bobby was there, and you know when you’re looping a movie you’re rerecording to a picture?

So this was an odd movie because the live footage had been shot, but the cat was still this gray blob onscreen. So I start working with this script and I’m supposed to start re-recording and thinking “I can do a funnier line than that” so I would start changing the dialogue that was written for the cat. Which kind of works, it sort of generally works, but then you realize the cat’s over here in a corner sitting on a counter, and I’m trying to think how I can make it make sense. So the other characters are already speaking these lines, and so I’m going “did he really say THAT?” and you’re kind of in this endgame of “how do I chess piece myself out of this one?”

So I worked like that with this gray blob and these lines that were already written, trying to unpaint myself out of a corner. I think I worked 6 or 7 hours for one reel? No, 8 hours. And that was for 10 minutes. And we managed to change and affect a great deal.

The next day I came into work and the producer gave me a set of golf clubs, and I thought “that was kind of extreme, especially since I can’t go play.” And the second reel was even HARDER because the complications of the first ten minutes were triangulated. It was really hard to write my way out of that one. And there were all these people on the other side of the recording studio, and at the end of the reel I was SOAKED In perspiration. I had drunk as much coffee as any columbian ever drank, and I said “you better just show me the rest of the movie.” And they showed me the rest of the movie, and there was just this long, 2 minute silence.

And I probably cursed a little, and I said “I can fix this, but I can’t fix this today. Or this week. Who wrote this stuff?”

And it appeared that one of the people behind the screen was the misspelled Joel Cohen. And I said “how could you have THAT scene take place before this scene? This can’t possibly happen? Who edited this thing?”

And another person behind the glass was the editor of the film. He quit the film that week to go work on another job, so that began a long process of working on the film. I worked the rest of the week on it, and I said “Bobby it is still nowhere near done. But I can’t fix it all, we have to try to do this again.”

It was sort of like Fantastic Mr Fox without the joy or the fun. We did it twice in California, and once in Italy when I was working on the life Aquatic, we were working on an INSANE place in Italy, with a woman who was a voice from above interrupting everything, I cursed again, and she left to take another job, and that was just the first once.

And we managed to fix it, sort of. It was a big financial success. And I said “just promise me, you’ll never do that again.” That you’ll never shoot the footage without telling me.

And they proceeded to do it again. And the next time, they had been shooting for 5 weeks. And I cursed again. I said “I just asked for one little thing, letting me know.” and that one was EVEN HARDER. The second one was beyond rescue, there were too many crazy people involved with it. And I thought I fixed the movie, but the insane director who had formerly done some Spongebob, he would leave me and say “I gotta go, I have a meeting” and he was going to the studio where someone was telling him what it should be, countermanding what I was doing.

They made a movie after that second miscarriage, that went directly to video. So they sort of shot themselves in the foot, the kidneys, the liver and the pancreas on the second one. If you had a finer mind working on them? The girl, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, she was sweet. In the second movie they dressed her like a homeless person. You knew it wasn’t gonna go well.

Every year my dad and I watch Groundhog Day together on Groundhog Day. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. What was it like filming the same scenes over, and over, and over?

Well, that part was fine, the filming of the scenes over and over because you know that’s what the story is. The scripts is one of the greatest conceptual scripts I’ve ever seen. It’s a script that was so unique, so original, and yet it got not acclaim. To me it was no question that it was the greatest script of the year. To this day people are talking about it, but they forget no one paid any attention to it at the time. The execution of the script, there were great people in it. It was a difficult movie to shoot because we shot in winter outdoors. If you ever get to go to Puxatawney, you should go, it is one of the few things that is BETTER than advertised. It’s really something to see. But doing the movie, shooting the scenes over and over, it’s like an acting challenge. It’s like doing a play and those same scenes over and over and again, so you can try to make it better or deeper or funnier than you made it previously.

What’s it like shooting scenes with your brother Brian?

My brother Brian was my first great influence. He made much of what I am possible. To this day, if I have a question about something ethical or about being an actor or entertainer or a person or something like that, he’s a person who helped form me. Shooting scenes with him is delightful. The idea that the two of us get to entertain is a kick.

He’s really funny. He really makes me laugh. He’s funny.

What do you think of the current SNL cast?

They’re good. I don’t know them as well as I knew the previous one. But i really feel like the previous cast, that was the best group since the original group. They were my favorite group. Some really talented people that were all comedians of some kind or another. You think about Dana Carvey, Will, Hartman, all these wonderful funny guys. But the last group with Kristen Wiig and those characters, they were a bunch of actors and their stuff was just different. It’s all about the writing, the writing is such a challenge and you are trying to write backwards to fit 90 minutes between dress rehearsal and the airing. And sometimes the writers don’t get the whole thing figured out, it’s not like a play where you can rehearse it several times. So good actors – and those were really good actors, and there are some great actors in this current group as well I might add – they seem to be able to solve writing problems, improvisational actors, can solve them on their feet. They can solve it during the performance, and make a scene work. It’s not like we were improvising when we made the shows, but you could feel ways to make things better. And when you get into the third dimension, as opposed to the printed page, you can see ways to solve things and write things live that other sorts of professionals don’t necessarily have. And that’s why I like that previous group. So this group, there are definitely some actors in this group, I see them working in the same way and making scenes go. They really roll very nicely, they have great momentum, and it seems like they are calm in the moment.

Does that make sense?

Someone made an advertising presentation on how brands should be more like Bill Murray if they want to suck less. His reply?

Well I don’t know if brands should be more like Bill Murray, but there’s no question they should suck less. I think if you just hold that though in front of yourself, like a marching brand trumpet player has the music mounted on his trumpet, about how to make ads suck less, then that will inform your daily life. It will be the last thing you think before you go to bed, and the first thing you think about in the morning, and you will add up the cumulative data of which ads are bearable to you, which ads you respond to. Ads aren’t bad in themselves. It’s just the attitude. We all have to go to the store, we all have to have groceries, but there’s a way to sell you things to make the exchange more of a human one. Sometimes you buy things from someone because you like their style. They watch with some fascination about the way YOU choose. If you think the ad will work backwards to what you’re trying to tell them in the first place.