What Would Bill Murray Do?

Lost In Translation
Lost In Translation

If you know anything about Bill Murray you know he’s not like the rest of us. A special zone of irreverence surrounds him. He sorta floats through the world like a shimmering soap bubble. If anyone is, he’s living the dream. He’s the smiling and cussing spirit of freedom. He’s practically a living saint, or at the very least, a holy fool.

You may or may not have heard Bill Murray has a new movie coming out called St. Vincent de Van Nuys. And you may have heard he was just in Japan, promoting the movie. And you may have heard that while he was there, cruising through Tokyo, in his inimitable Bill Murray style, he stopped a bank robbery … by accident. Only Bill Murray.

According to reports, the bank robber was making his getaway on foot when he spotted the star of Caddyshack. Of course, he ran over to speak with him. Wouldn’t you? Even if you were robbing bank. Okay, maybe not then, but otherwise … totally!

Referring to the character he played in the movie Lost In Translation, the robber asked the international movie star, “Are you Bob Harris?”

Bill Murray replied, “Yeah, sure, why not.”

The bank robber wasted so much time confessing how much he loved the movie and how great he thinks Bill Murray is, the Tokyo Metropolitan police were able to run up, tackle the bank robber and subdue him. This story was reported by conservative news organization, NationalReport.net.

And oh by the way … that story is entirely made-up. That source I just quoted, the NationalReport, it’s a satirical twist on the National Review, a real leading conservative publication. Always best to check your sources. Especially these days. But lots and lots of folks read that story and shared it on social media because — who has time to check stories anymore? And especially when they’re so damn rad like this one.

Bill Murray stopped a bank robbery … by accident? Yeah, sure, why not.

But yeah, no. Way too good to be true. However, this internet hoax does have an awesome silver lining. This fake story is more evidence of the brilliance of Bill Murray. If we can so easily believe he’s an accidental crime-fighter, a reluctant super hero, more than ask what does that say about us, we should ask: what does it say about him?

Who needs life hacks? Forget life lessons. We have Bill Murray.

If you wanna get better at life, if you need something for those times when you feel tense, if you wish you had a mantra for all those sudden awkward moments like say farting on a first date, and especially if you sometimes feel angrier than a table-flipping Real Housewife, just remember this simple acronym to regain your cool: WWBMD?

WHAT WOULD BILL MURRAY DO?

Let’s celebrate the fact we have a holy fool like Bill Murray, wandering the earth, showing us how to not take everything sooo seriously. In celebration of all things Bill Murray, here are …

the Top 20 LIFE LESSONS YOU CAN LEARN FROM Bill Murray

1. Caddyshack: “Playing Through” scene

Billy Murray and Chevy Chase kinda hated each other. Some say it’s because Bill replaced Chevy when the actor left Saturday Night Live for Hollywood. Others say it’s just because Chevy Chase is an asshole. A lot of people say that. But we may never know the truth. What we do know is: this is their only scene together in a movie, and despite their feud, they created one hell of a funny scene. It wasn’t in the original script. The director, Harold Ramis, realized he was missing out on a chance to mine some comedy gold; so he met with his two feuding stars and together, over lunch, the three comedy kings wrote this scene. They shot it that afternoon. Harold Ramis had amazing comedic instincts, and he was correct yet again. This scene is a motherlode of classic quotes. The whole movie is highly quotable. Like, if you get high, you probably quote it or you know someone who does.

Life Lesson: Things are generally way better with a big Bob Marley joint … and a cannonball. Also, if they have a pond and a pool, the pond would be good for you.

2. Coffee & Cigarettes

The film Coffee & Cigarettes is a collection of b/w vignettes stitched together by indie auteur, Jim Jarmusch (a super-talented filmmaker — you should check out all of his films). Over the course of two decades, Jarmusch asked two or more celebrities to sit down and improv a conversation about the titular subjects. In what’s possibly the best vignette, Bill Murray plays Bill Murray. He’s working on the down-low at a New York City diner, between gigs, trying to avoid attention. He’s biding his time, freshening coffee for the unassuming patrons. Well, until RZA and GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan come up in for a mug. The oddly-paired celebrities discuss coffee and cigarettes, and also, Eastern medicine, the nature of dreams, delirium, and coffee popsicles. Meanwhile Bill Murray drinks coffee from the pot.

“Bill motherfuckin’ Murray.”

Life Lesson: Always listen to your doctor if he makes dope beats and cyphers about nicotine and Taoist medicine with equal ease.

3. Bill Murray’s Reddit AMA

His is popularly known as the Best AMA Ever. In. The. History. Of. The. World. Kanye. West. When Bill Murray sat down to a keyboard and opened up to his fans on Reddit, no one knew exactly what to expect or how forthcoming he’d be. Instead of being vague, pompous or aloof, Bill Murray was unsurprisingly candid, honest, frank, and of course, funny. Reading it feels like you’re having a beer, enjoying a chat with him at a Cubs game. If Bill Murray ever becomes a saint, as I think he rightly deserves, Wrigley Field is his church.

Life Lesson: Life’s way more fun if you’re not a douchebag. Got it? Cool.

4. Zombieland

Once again, he plays the role of Bill Murray, but when he showed up in Zombieland, Bill transformed a fun and funny film into a verified comedy classic. That’s the power of the Murray. In one of the best death scenes in cinema history (hyperbolic, I know, but also mostly true), Bill Murray faces his inevitable demise with the calm irreverence of a Taoist monk. One of the funny monks. You can learn a lot about life by watching Bill Murray die.

“Oh my god! I can’t believe I shot Bill Murray.”

Life Lesson: If you make a terrible decision, like starring in “Garfield,” it’s always best if you own that shit. Makes you cooler if you do.

5. Lost In Translation

Bill Murray called Lost In Translation his favorite film he’s made. The part of Bob Harris was written specifically for him. Sophia Coppola said if Bill hadn’t agreed to take the part she wouldn’t have made the movie. This one’s a double because it’s Bill’s favorite.

Life Lesson: Lying on a hotel bed with an interesting stranger is sometimes a life-changing way to spend a few hours. Other times, it’s the last thing you ever do. Pick good strangers to share your hotel beds.

4. Ghostbusters

If you read the script, you’ll notice Ghostbusters isn’t nearly as funny on the page as it is on the screen. That’s not usually the case. The rule is: if it’s not funny on the page, it’s not gonna be funny on the stage. It’s easier to take good writing and screw up the performance than it is to take bad writing and save it with a performance. Not that the writing is bad, it’s just not super-funny on the page. The hub that makes the whole Ghostbusters comic ensemble spin is the irreverence of Bill Murray. And oddly enough, what makes us believe in the ghosts is his skepticism. We can’t wait to see Bill get slimed or find his date levitating six feet above her bed. He’s not interested in all this ghost shit. And yet, there he is in the middle of it all. Bill Murray reminds us why it’s important to stand your ground and question authority, especially dickless bureaucrats and inter-dimensional beings who are primed and eager to destroy New York City.

“Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria!”

“Enough! I get the point. What if you’re wrong?”

“If I’m wrong, nothing happens. We go to jail, peacefully, quietly. We’ll enjoy it. But if I’m right … if we can stop this thing … Lenny, you will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters.”

Life Lesson: Question authority like you’d question green meat

5. The Bill Murray fashion collection

The man’s genius is not limited to his movie roles, or his past appearances on television, or all the memes and hoaxes on the Internet. The man’s genius is evident when he performs on the theater of his body. He approaches his personal brand of fashion with all the necessary levels of absurdity. Would you expect any less of the Bill Murray fashion collection? Honestly, the man is one of my fashion icons.

 Life Lesson: If clothes make the man, pick clothes that signal who you are. Loudly.

6. Stripes

When the movie Stripes opens Bill Murray is hate-driving a taxi. This is his Falling Down moment. He’s done, with the cab, with the traffic, with his dead-end life. And so, when a pain-in-his-ass customer hops in his cab, the disapproving rich bitch is that straw that breaks his camel back. He takes the old biddy on whatever the opposite of a joyride is. That’s how you open a comedy about a loser who needs to change his life. When you feel like you wanna chuck it all and start fresh, no one’s saying go join the Army, instead, live vicariously through Bill Murray. Let him fucks with the Army and you be the one on your couch, laughing away your anger.

Life Lesson: Songs from the ’50s usually make work way more fun. And so do tanks.

6. Billy Murray: ‘70s crooner

He played a ton of hilarious characters during his run on Saturday Night Live. But his times behind the mic, when he was playing a lounge singer, those are some of his best. Little known fact: Bill Murray had a high school band called The Dutch Masters. He was the lead singer. In this skit, he plays Nick the crooner, the feature entertainment and owner of Trader Nick’s, an easy-cheesy ’70s tiki bar. The highlight of the skit has to be when Bill Murray starts belting out Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” And he kills it. At first it’s bad, then it’s good, then it’s really bad again, and then it’s just pure awesome-sauce with fresh whip cream.

Life Lesson: Have no fear, sing your song like if Bill were there.

7. What About Bob?

I love watching Bill Murray turn Richard Dreyfuss into the World’s Angriest White Man, after, of course, Harrison Ford (“Get off my plane!”). In this lost ’90s comedy, Bill Murray plays Bob Wiley, a psychiatric patient; a man who’s so bizarrely abnormal he does things like fake Tourette’s syndrome, because if he can fake it then he knows he doesn’t have it. You see? In this clip, the shut-in who can barely leave his apartment goes sailing with his therapist’s daughter. It’s not as dirty as it sounds.

“I’m sailing!”

Life Lesson:You never know when you’re gonna have a break-through. So break shit.

8. Groundhog’s Day: “I’m A God Scene”

You probably know this film. Bill plays a weatherman who’s cursed to relive the same day over and over again in the tiny town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. And eventually, our hero, Phil the egotistical weatherman, begins to crack-up. The director of Ghostbusters, Ivan Reitman, once said Bill Murray is funniest when he’s physically uncomfortable, which is why his backpack in Ghostbusters was secretly 40 lbs heavier than every one else’s. Obviously, Ivan Reitman is a cruel genius, but in Groundhog’s Day, directed by Harold Ramis, there was no way to make Bill physically uncomfortable in every scene. I don’t know if I’d say the secret is to make Bill Murray uncomfortable. But I’d certainly agree that, being a living saint and all, Bill shows us you have to find the funny in life – especially, when you’re about to lose it. In this scene, fraying at the edges, bound together by the weakest threads, he tells Andy Macdowell’s character that he is a god. Perhaps not the God, but he’s pretty sure he’s a god.

Life Lesson: You’re not a god; but it’s best to laugh at life in the face like you are a god.

9. Where The Buffalo Roam

Did you know Bill Murray played Hunter S Thompson in a movie — a decade and a half before Johnny Depp played our favorite outlaw writer? Y’wanna talk great casting — Bill Murray as Hunter S is unadulterated genius. I prefer his performance to Johnny Depp’s take on Dr. Gonzo. That said, I really liked Johnny Depp’s version. He was rad. But somehow, Bill Murray seems to be at his most Bill Murray when he’s playing Hunter S Thompson.  Weird, I know.

In this scene, Hunter is covering the ’72 presidential election for Rolling Stone magazine. In a men’s room, the outlaw writer confronts President Nixon. It’s just the two of men, alone in the quiet of their tiled solitude. The journalist asks the politician about the generation of doomed Americans. Nixon tell him, “Fuck the doomed!” It’s a great moment in presidential bathroom history; it’s up there with Taft getting stuck in his bathtub. To get to the Nixon bit, skip ahead to 1:57

Life Lesson: The right suit will take you places, but be sure to have something to say once you get there.

11. Kingpin

Bill Murray and bowling. Need I say more? And oh yeah, rubber-handed Woody Harrelson and soft-headed Randy Quaid are also in the movie. Kingpin makes me laugh hard. The running gag about hot coffee burning people is hilarious. But then they spill coffee on a baby and now I want to put a ring on it. I love this movie! It’s just so wrong. And this part is easily one of Bill’s funniest roles. This was just before he became the understated actor we now see in his modern indie film work. As you’ll soon see, his hairpiece really deserves its own super-cut of highlights. (No pun intended). There is such a wicked glee to be found in watching Bill Murray act like an unapologetic asshole and generally float through life with that lackadaisical swagger of a pro athlete. But he’s a pro bowler.

“You two know each other?”

“It’s a small world when you have unbelievable tits, Roy.”

Life Lesson: Life’s more fun if you adopt the policy that it’s better to apologize than ask permission.

12. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Riffing on that same idea of arrogance personified, this is the more contained, indie version; Steve Zissou is the sort of pompous man that populates a Wes Anderson film. To fill-out Steve’s wetsuit, Bill Murray is one part cult leader, one part curious explorer, one part unchecked bruised ego; they all swirl together with narcissism and are best served chilled. Plus, in this film, you get to watch Bill Murray battle Jeff Goldblum to see who can be the bigger ham onscreen. Always fun. Rather than pick a scene of him being a dick, I thought we could dive down into the deep and let Bill Murray pilot us all through the strange wonders we find there. It’s like seeing the world through Bill Murray’s eyes.

Life Lesson: Life is better in a wetsuit … especially, if you have a killer soundtrack.

13. Playing Kickball with Strangers, Crashing Karaoke Bars, Drinking with Strange Hipsters in Brooklyn House-parties … Where Will Bill Murray Show Up Next?

There are numerous reports of Bill Murray hanging out with fans in the strangest places. There are stories of him showing up at kickball games, crashing karaoke, and stranger still, slumming it at Brooklyn house parties. These are all documented with pictures, or at least firsthand accounts from somewhat credible sources. And there are countless rumors of Bill Murray sightings. At the center of all this great weirdness is Bill Murray. To make matters worse, he knows that he’s basically Bigfoot in the city, and so he reportedly whispers something in the ear of the people he plays with, “no one will ever believe you.” This gives him license to make the story even stranger. The common theme for all the stories is that they often end with Bill disappearing in a way that almost sounds magical. But we expect such things from our saints.

Life Lesson: Always, always give ’em a great story to tell when you’re gone.

14. Charlie Rose interview

Many call this one of America’s best interview shows. I think Charlie Rose is kinda an ass. But he usually does manage to have a substantial conversation with a public person and do so in a way that feels private and intimate. I give more credit to his giant oak table than to him. I think the table makes people want to talk. It probably smells like childhood. In this interview Charlie Rose and Bill Murray do indeed get personal. Not Barbara Walters, “is my mascara running?” sorta personal but it’s deep for two men of their generation.

Life Lesson: No life follows a straight line, so don’t expect yours to fly arrow-straight.

15. Tootsie

In Tootsie, Bill Murray isn’t the star. He plays the friend; and thus, he isn’t in many of the scenes. But he sure slays the ones he’s in. Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray play real nice together. You’ll notice this is important to Bill. He likes to play, and he generally plays well with others. The same can not be said about Dustin Hoffman. He has a reputation for being prickly and a perfectionist. Nothing against the man in the dress, but in this scene keep your eyes on St. Bill Murray.

Tootsie was a difficult film to get made and to make. Dustin Hoffman and Sydney Pollack, who was the director and played Dustin’s agent in the film, fought a great deal throughout filming. In the GQ video interview below, Bill Murray describes his approach to dealing with the quick-tempered star, who was basically an insecure man terrified he looked ugly and stupid in a dress. Bill saw quite a different picture.

“Because you can’t upstage a man in panties and a girdle … and a bra … You could do anything.”

Everyone else was afraid of Dustin Hoffman. Or they were the director and they were fighting with him. Irreverent as ever, Bill Murray saw all the tension as a great impetus to play. In this appropriately titled interview series with Bill, he tells a behind-the-scenes tale of Tootsie and how one learns to play with a man in a dress.

Bonus: There’s a whole series of vids on YouTube called the Tao of Bill. You should check them out. He hands out life lessons on fashion, recalls his days on SNL, talks personal style, muses on Lost in Translation; and there are tons of others ones.

16. Letterman Interview

Bill Murray and Dave Letterman have a special relationship. They’re both Midwest guys. They’re roughly similar in age and disposition. Both suffer from the comedian’s lament, what you might call the sad clown syndrome. For two men who are rather peerless talents, you can totally see the fun they have when they’re together. Like, for instance, Bill usually gets dressed up for Dave. Little known fact: Bill Murray was the first guest on Letterman’s late night show.

In this trip to the couch, Bill Murray shows up dressed as Liberace and makes a grand entrance. He tells stories of being at Wrigley Field the night they first turned the lights on and since there was a rain delay, he and the Cubs announcer, Harry Caray, had a beer in the broadcast booth live on tv. And then, Bill tears apart Letterman’s set with a box-cutter, pick, and a jackhammer.  Remember he’s dressed as Liberace. If that wasn’t enough, he serenades Letterman, singing the Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston song “I Will Always Love You.” I told you, they have a special relationship. It’s one of the great modern bromances.

Life Lesson: When you find that special someone in your life, let them know you love them. Not just with words but with actions and do it every time you see them.

17. GQ Interview

Unlike his time with Letterman, Bill is not known to happily sit for many interviews. He’s notoriously difficult to reach. He has no agent or manager. If you want to get a hold of him you have to call a 1-800 number and leave a message. When GQ wrangled Bill Murray into an interview, it was kinda a big deal. And equally, they’re kinda known for conducting really solid interviews. This one was a score for GQ.

Life Lesson: You don’t ever have to answer the phone. It’s your phone.

18. 12 Insane Things That Happened On My Night Out With Bill Murray

I don’t know if this hilarious story by Thought Catalog’s own, Alex Mann, is true or not. I wasn’t there. I like to believe it is true because it’s a damn good story and well-told. It could be like the hoax, further proof that the stranger the story is, the more likely we are to believe a person really met Bill Murray. Which if you think about it is such a compliment to how he floats through the world. I like to live in a world where these sorts of things happen. I like to believe it’s Bill Murray’s world and we just live in it.

Life Lesson: Always keep beer in your pocket. Because you never know what comes next and you might want a beer.

19. Rushmore: Helicopter Scene

I know, you were probably expecting at some point to see the “…Ned?! Ned Ryerson?!” scenes from Groundhog’s Day. And if you really wanna watch it, then go ahead and click here. But, frankly, there were a lot of fucking scenes and great moments that didn’t make this list. Like, for instance, in Quick Change where he dresses like a clown and robs a bank with help from Geena Davis. And there are sooo many more. We could make a Top 20 list of scenes/moments that were left out. But I had to make difficult decisions. And all those other scenes, great as they are, they didn’t make the cut when they were compared to this one.

Oddly though, this scene captures the magic of Bill Murray better than all the other ones and he’s not in it. It’s the play scene from the end of Rushmore. The reason I picked it is because Bill paid for it. You see, there wasn’t enough money in the budget. The financiers said no. So, Bill Murray said yes. He wrote a personal check for $25,000 and then they filmed the scene. Keep in mind, Bill Murray was paid $9,000 to be in Rushmore. I hate math, but even I can do this one; in essence, Bill Murray gave Wes Anderson $16 grand to see the movie get made. He paid to be in Rushmore. Or you could say, less cynically, he paid to have a place to play for awhile and he happily paid for something he believed in, he supported a vision he wanted to see. WWBMD?

20.  …and speaking of Rushmore

To close our appreciation, to seal the deal of this humble campaign to canonize him, as the final evidence that he should one day be known as Saint Bill Murray, here are his words of advice to the impressionable young minds of Rushmore Academy.

Life Lesson: Know your enemy better than they know you.

The greatest lesson we can learn from Bill Murray is his constant reminder not to take things too seriously. Don’t know about you but I need that reminder from time to time. The message to flow, relax, chill the fuck out and have a laugh, especially if it’s at authority — this message of unflappable cool is his life’s work. And it’s safe to say no one enjoys life quite like Bill Murray.

When your back is against the wall and you got nowhere to go, when the world is crashing in and you can’t hold it back any longer, when you get tense as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs, be sure to take a moment, inhale a slow breath and ask yourself:

What Would Bill Murray Do?

And do that. That’s about as close as we mortals can get to “total consciousness.”  TC Mark

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