Bill Murray has always been the guy we all want to be: Successful, rich, and wildly famous, yes, but also someone who's lived by his own rules, who walks into every situation with a rare fearlessness, and who's never lost his incredible sense of humor. He crashes frat parties and New York kickball games, he acts much younger than his 62 years, but he's also smart enough to have successfully transitioned his career from the 1980s broad comedies to modern-day indie dramas. He's lived a full life.
GQ has an interesting new profile of Murray today called "This Guy Could Be President," and you get the sense that writer Brett Martin had to write it while dealing as best he could with a guy not accustomed to sitting down and talking about himself. ("Would-be interviewers find themselves acting more like lepidopterists, trying to anticipate his flitting path and then hoping against hope that he'll alight on a nearby flower for a moment or two," Martin writes.) Nevertheless there's some really good stuff in here, and we've highlighted some of the best sections below. Be sure to read the whole thing at GQ, too.
1. Murray blew off a GQ photo shoot to play kickball with people he didn't know.
That we live in a universe in which such rules need stating is the great gift of Bill Murray's late-stage career. And it's what went down one brisk day this fall, when a group of twentysomethings playing kickball on Roosevelt Island were suddenly involved in the one-man flash mob that is a Bill Murray Sighting.
"We just figured he was someone's dad on the other team and kept playing, NBD," one of the participants wrote to Billmurraystory.com, a website devoted to chronicling such ubiquitous and predictably unpredictable events. "The man kicked the ball and ran pretty well to first base, trying to round to second, but one of my teammates chased him back to first, deciding not to attempt to peg the man. That was when everyone on my team realized who he was.... BILL MURRAY DECIDED TO PLAY KICKBALL WITH US!"
Murray made it as far as second base before getting doubled up on a line drive. He gave everybody on the field high fives. He hugged one player's mother, who was standing on the sidelines, lifting her high into the air. He posed for a group photo that would soon be all over the Internet. (All this, it should be said, after blowing off a GQ photo shoot.) And then he vanished.
2. No comment.
[Producer and writer Mitch Glazer] also bears the brunt of Murray's pranks. His wife, the actress Kelly Lynch, revealed in an interview last fall that Murray and his brothers call the couple's house anytime they catch the sex scene between Lynch and Patrick Swayze in Road House on TV.
"It's totally true. No matter what time, two in the morning, it's 'Patrick Swayze's fucking your wife right now. Oh... He's pushing her up against the wall.' It was kind of funny, the first dozen or so times," Glazer says. He calls his friend "the Murricane."
3. He may end up being nominated for an Oscar for his role as FDR in "Hyde Park on Hudson," but he had a unique way of describing President Roosevelt at a recent press conference.
FDR, as Murray plays him, is a deceptively doddering manipulator of both the big stage (deftly paving the way for the U.S.'s entrance into World War II) and the small (assembling a willing harem of doting mistresses at his Hyde Park estate). The night before, at Hyde Park's premiere at the New York Film Festival, Murray had sat, with other cast members, for a post-screening Q&A. The thirty-second president, he told the sedate art-house crowd, had balls. "I actually don't use that word much. Guts isn't right, either," he says now. His voice, with its latent Chicago accent, is like an instrument tuned half a note off, but nevertheless musical. "I should have said he had sand. I like sand because it has gravity to it. There's something solid down at the bottom. It's like the clown that you can punch and he sits right back up again."
4. He's finding it difficult to break into the broad comedies of today—think "The Hangover," "Knocked Up"—because they're not tales of men taking on the world (like "Stripes" and "Ghostbusters"). They're men trying to be boys again.