William James Murray (born September 21, 1950) is an American actor and comedian. From growing up in the Chicago satellite community of Wilmette, Illinois, he gained national exposure on Saturday Night Live after Chevy Chase left in the middle of season two and Lorne Michaels hired Murray as Chase's replacement. Though he is now considered one of the best cast members SNL has ever had, Murray was originally dismissed by fans as a weak replacement for Chevy Chase. When Chase came back to host on the show's third season, he and Murray got into a vicious fight backstage and had to be pulled apart by fellow cast members Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. When Chase came back to host during the show's fifth season, the two did a monologue together showing that all was forgiven. In fact, Chase and Murray were the first choices to play Otter and Boon, respectively, in Animal House. Among his most popular characters on the show was singing Lounge Lizard Nick Winters with his most famous sketch the one where he sings the Star Wars theme with added lyrics: Star Wars nothing but Star Wars
Murray went on to star in a number of critically and commercially successful comedic films including Stripes, Tootsie, Meatballs, Caddyshack, both Ghostbusters (1984), and Groundhog Day. He also co-directed and starred in Quick Change, to date his only official directorial credit.
He gained additional critical acclaim later in his career, starring in Lost in Translation, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award, and a series of films directed by Wes Anderson, including Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom. He is widely regarded as one of the most talented and unique comedic actors of his generation. His brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, was also a Saturday Night Live cast member and was in a few movies with his brother. Brothers John Murray and Joel Murray haven't been on SNL but did appear with their elder brothers in Scrooged.
Has developed a habit in his golden years of resurfacing in the strangest places. May or may not be a shape-shifting coyote trickster god.
This actor contains examples of:
- Adam Westing: In Space Jam, Zombieland and Coffee and Cigarettes.
- Bookends: He was David Letterman's first guest on both Late Night and The Late Show, and his final guest before his retirement in 2015.
- The Cameo: As befitting his personality and improvisational ability, he pops up in many projects unbilled.
- Career Resurrection: Rushmore solidified with Lost in Translation.
- Cool Old Guy: His role in Zombieland.Tallahassee: Six people left in the world, and one of them is Bill fuckin' Murray!
- Creator Backlash: He wasn't happy with how Ghostbusters II turned out."Those special-effects guys took over. It was too much of the slime and not enough of us."
- Deadpan Snarker: All his movies but most notable are Caddyshack and Groundhog Day. Comedy Central even named him number one in their special "Mouthing Off: The Fifty-One Greatest Smart-Asses Of All Time".
- Hostility on the Set:
- With Lucy Liu while filming Charlie's Angels (2000), who lunged at him after Bill repeatedly insulted her.
- He was also brought in by the director of The Royal Tenenbaums to deal with this, because Gene Hackman was going out of his way to be the biggest, most unpleasant jerkass possible to everyone, cast and crew, while filming. Bill Murray wasn't the slightest bit intimidated by Hackman (being somewhat prickly himself) and had zero tolerance for his bullshit. Murray even directed several scenes, much to Hackman's frustration.
- On the set of What About Bob?, he and Richard Dreyfuss could not get along and in a bit of irony, considering the relationship of their characters, it was Murray who was openly hostile to Dreyfuss and not the other way around.
- On Groundhog Day, longtime friends Murray and Harold Ramis had a nasty falling out that severed their friendship for decades. It was only shortly before Ramis' death that the two made up.
- Improv: Known to ad-lib his way through most of his movies. In fact, there are several, such as Little Shop of Horrors, Kingpin, and Space Jam where all his dialogue is completely ad-libbed. Though this is notably not the case in Ghostbusters, thanks to how well Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis were able to capture his voice in the script."That is one nutty hospital!"
- Old Shame: Garfield. He even said so in Zombieland. He actually took the job assuming that The Coen Brothers had written it, when actually it was just that one of the writers was named Joel Cohen. Although this may have been Murray's idea of a joke.
- Playing Against Type: After the phenomenal success of Ghostbusters (1984), Murray used his clout to bring a pet project to fruition, playing the main character in a film adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's philosophical novel The Razor's Edge. However, mainstream audiences weren't ready to see funnyman Murray grapple with existential questions of life. The film tanked, and Murray was so disappointed that he quit acting temporarily to study at the Sorbonne, appearing in only one movie in the next four years.
- Production Posse: He's formed many creative relationships over the years, particularly with Harold Ramis, Jim Jarmusch, Wes Anderson and Ivan Reitman.
- Reclusive Artist: Murray does not have an agent or manager and only fields offers for scripts and roles using a personal telephone number with a voice mailbox that he checks infrequently. Notably this method of contact cost him the role of Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, much to his regret.
- Sad Clown: The role he tends to play more often in later life, particularly in Wes Anderson films like Rushmore and The Life Aquatic.
- Star-Making Role: On Saturday Night Live, solidified with Ghostbusters (1984).