“No one will ever believe you.” —Bill Murray
Bill Murray is a true treasure and a beloved icon who has continually reinvented himself while somehow staying grounded and true to himself. Here are some of the wackiest and most interesting facts about the man, the myth, and the legend that is Bill Murray.
40. Favorite Film
Murray is on record saying that his favorite film of his own is Lost in Translation.
39. No Selfies
When three people tried to snatch selfies of Murray while at a rooftop party in 2016, the legend didn’t appreciate it. He took his frustration out by hurling all three of their cell phones off of the roof.
38. Not Forrest Gump
It’s almost impossible to imagine anyone besides Tom Hanks playing Forrest Gump, but it almost ended up being Bill Murray. He wasn’t a fan of the role, however, and turned it down.
37. Bill Can Bowl
The climactic scene of Kingpin when Ernie McCracken bowls a turkey—three consecutive strikes—to win the showdown wasn’t a trick of editing. Murray actually bowled three straight strikes, which led to the crowd responding with a genuinely wild reaction.
36. Rushmore Messiah
Wes Anderson’s Rushmore did a lot for the careers of many stars: it launched the career of Jason Schwartzman, solidified Anderson as a cinematic force, and steered Murray in the direction of taking dramatic roles. The movie hit a crisis in production after Disney refused to fund its famous helicopter scene. Murray stepped in and gifted Anderson a $25,000 cheque in order to properly shoot the scene, but Anderson never cashed the cheque.
35. Not About the Benjamins
Though Murray made quite the charitable gesture with his attempted $25,000 contribution to Wes Anderson, the actor was only paid $9,000 for his role in Rushmore. Regardless, he went on to collaborate with Anderson on many other films.
34. Trouble With Groups
Murray doesn’t just cause trouble on the set of films—he also caused trouble at both Boy Scouts and in Little League when he was a kid, which led to him being kicked out of both youth groups.
33. The Groundhog Bites
There’s a rumor that Murray got bitten by the groundhog while filming Groundhog Day, and even had to get a rabies shot. While this isn’t true, Groundhog Day producer Trevor Albert laughs that, “[It’s not that] it didn’t try and bite him. I think it wanted to bite him. Lots of people wanted to bite him.”
While in high school, Murray actually worked as a caddy at the local golf club.
31. The Murray Actors
Murray isn’t the only talent in his family, as three of his brothers are also actors. All three of these brothers, Brian Doyle-Murray, Joel Murray, and John Murray appeared alongside Bill in the Christmas classic Scrooged.
30. Performing Nun
The entertainment talent in the family isn’t limited to just the men either, as his sister Nancy is a Dominican nun who put on a one-woman show in which she traveled around the United States performing the story of St. Catherine of Siena.
29. Diving With Steve Zissou
Murray knows that you’ve got to take advantage of your roles when you’re an actor. During the filming of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, he put in over 40 hours of diving and even gained his diving certification.
28. Rock Band
As a teenager, Murray had a band with some friends called Dutch Masters. Naturally, Bill was the lead singer.
27. Chemistry Act
The chemistry between the characters that Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson play in Lost in Translation is the stuff of movie legends. However, it was all acting as, apparently, the two didn’t really get along well. During the crucial scene in the movie when the two characters lay in bed together, director Sofia Coppola had such a hard time provoking chemistry between them that she eventually gave up, called it a wrap, and had to try again the following day.
26. Dodging Punches
Murray doesn’t mince words. On the set of Charlie’s Angels, he wasn’t the biggest fan of Lucy Liu, and reportedly once prompted her to throw punches at him by telling her that she wasn’t a good actor.
25. Famous Friends
After leaving the improv troupe The Second City, Murray went to New York and joined the infamous National Lampoon Radio Hour at the encouragement of John Belushi. After the comedy radio show folded, many of its comedians went on to be featured on Saturday Night Live, or create some of the most famous comedies of the 70s and 80s, including Chevy Chase, Christopher Guest, Gilda Radner, and Harold Ramis.
24. The Other Saturday Night Show
Before joining Saturday Night Live, Murray was a featured player on the one and only season of Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell. The show is known as one of television’s biggest disasters, as Howard Cosell, a famous sportscaster, had no experience in actual comedy.
23. Batter up
Murray officially has a career batting average of .500 as a Minor League Baseball player. This is because, in 1978, he played a game for the Grays Harbor Loggers and got a hit in one of his two at-bats for the team.
22. Late Night With Bill Murray
Murray was the first-ever guest that David Letterman had on his Late Night show in 1982. He would also end up being the last guest to appear on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2015.
21. On One Condition
While Ghostbusters is one of Murray’s iconic movies, he only took the part in the film in order to secure funding from Columbia Pictures for his own picture, The Razor’s Edge. It would be filmed before Ghostbusters, however, it wasn’t released until after Ghostbusters became a massive box office success. Sadly, The Razor’s Edge ended up flopping hard.
20. Filling in for Belushi
The role of Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters was not actually written for Bill Murray, but instead for the late John Belushi.
19. Man of Philosophy
The failure of The Razor’s Edge really got to Murray, and he became so upset that he decided to take a break from the world of comedy. A four-year break, to be exact. But he didn’t just sit around and do nothing, nope—instead, he moved to Paris, enrolled in the Sorbonne, and studied philosophy and history. It was probably excellennt inspiration for his academic character in The Royal Tenenbaums.
18. A Garfield Accident
Voicing Garfield may not be one of the shining moments of Murray’s career, but at least he’s got an excuse: when he first came across the script, he saw the name “Joel Cohen” attached as the writer, and mistook him for Joel Coen of the Coen brothers, subsequently signing up without any hesitation.
17. Team Owner
A baseball lover, Murray owns not just one, nor two, nor even three, but four Minor League Baseball teams. Besides co-owning these four teams, he has also invested in five other minor league baseball teams, and in 2012 was inducted into the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame for his work in the league with various teams.
16. Partying With Bill
Famous for showing up to random parties, Murray has been captured washing the dishes after a rager as well as sharing karaoke booths with strangers.
15. Don’t Drink and Drive
Drinking and driving is bad, we all know that, and so does Bill. During a trip to Sweden, Murray was pulled over for driving under the influence—though he wasn’t in a car, but rather a golf cart. The cops let him go, though, and as it turns out, he was actually sober. He just thought taking the golf cart at that moment in time was particularly convenient.
14. Improvised Genius
For his role in Caddyshack, not only did Murray improvise every line, but he needed only six days to turn in his comedic acting genius.
13. The Murricane
Famous for his temper and mood swings, fellow comedian and friend Dan Aykroyd gave Bill the nickname “The Murricane.”
12. Fight Chevy
When Chevy Chase left Saturday Night Live, the cast of the show wasn’t happy and felt he had abandoned them. When Chase came back to guest-host an episode, Murray confronted him. The argument went from zero to 60 quickly, as they traded insults before exchanging blows in a fight on set. Chase may have gotten the better verbal jab in, though, as he insulted Murray’s looks by saying his face looked “like something Neil Armstrong landed on.” Ouch.
11. Striped Disagreement
Stripes is a classic. That doesn’t mean Murray enjoyed working on the film, though. He disliked acting alongside Sean Young so much that he refused to ever act with her in the future. Needless to say, they never worked together again, though Murray’s career is still thriving.
10. What About Bill?
This may not be difficult to believe, but Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss disliked each other’s presence during the filming of What About Bob? just about as much as their characters did in the movie.
9. Spoiled Fits
The Murricane struck during the filming of What About Bob? when he threw the producer Laura Ziskin into a lake during a dispute. The two didn’t get along during production, and he also once threatened to throw her across a parking lot, but instead took her sunglasses, broke them, and threw them across the lot.
8. Brotherly Falling Out
Harold Ramis and Bill Murray were like brothers, but sometimes the love between brothers borders on hate. The two stars had a huge falling out during the filming of the legendary Groundhog Day and didn’t talk for 20 years, only reconciling shortly before Ramis’ death in 2014.
7. Bad Joke
On his 20th birthday, Murray tried to smuggle four and a half kilograms—10 pounds!—of marijuana in through the O’Hare Airport in Chicago. He almost got away with it, too, if it wasn’t for one of his worst jokes ever. For some reason, while smuggling the weed, Murray thought it would be a good idea to make a joke to the person sitting next to him on the plane. Yeah—they didn’t get the joke and ratted him out. Murray ended up being convicted but didn’t have to do any hard time—just some probation. Also, is it really a joke if it’s true?
6. Second Chance
Thankfully, for not just Murray but the whole world, after his run-in with the law, Murray had to change things up a bit and accepted an invitation from his brother Brian to study improvisational comedy under the father of modern improv, Del Close, at The Second City theater in Chicago.
5. No Agent
Perhaps you’ve heard the rumor that Murray doesn’t have an agent and that he is only able to be reached through a 1-800 number that he set up. Well, not only is it true, but he checks it so infrequently that he has missed a good bunch of opportunities over the years, including roles in the films Little Miss Sunshine, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and Monsters Inc.
4. Family Saga
Growing up wasn’t the easiest for the Murray family, and at 17 years old, Bill lost his father—who was only 46 at the time—to diabetes. His mother also went through several miscarriages, and one of his sisters suffered from polio.
3. Art Saving Life
Many great minds go through mental struggles, and Murray is no different. Although he had found success and fame, he was depressed, and in a moment of desperation decided to jump into Lake Michigan and commit suicide. He would change his mind, thankfully, after seeing a painting from artist Jules Breton, which put his life in a different perspective.
2. Bill and Hunter Houdini
Bill Murray almost didn’t make it out of portraying Hunter S. Thompson alive. During the filming of Where the Buffalo Roam, Murray and Thompson continually tried to see who was more ballsy and ended up having a Houdini competition. At some point, Thompson tied Murray up to a chair and threw him into a pool. Murray is no Houdini though, and Thompson had to jump in and save our cherished star from drowning.
1. Tequila Clan
One night, while Murray was hanging out with the RZA and GZA from Wu-Tang Clan in Austin, Texas, the three stars weren’t content with simply walking into a bar and drinking, but insisted on going behind the bar and working. You can’t make this stuff up. Even better is that whenever anyone ordered a drink, they ignored the order and served them shots of tequila instead.