It’s not his birthday, he didn’t die (at least not when this was written), and he doesn’t have a new movie out, but gosh darn it – let’s talk Bill Murray. He is, as we all know, the best person.
Today I wanted to try and find some more roles in the vein of The Razor’s Edge; just some odd, maybe funny/maybe not characters he’s played over the years that we all may have missed out on.
My goal here: to give you, at the very least, one Bill Murray role you didn’t know about, but would now really like to watch. Here we go…
10. Bill Murray The K & Man On The Street in All You Need is Cash/Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video
As a performance, there’s nothing too out of the ordinary here; it’s just Murray screaming and being Murray-like. That said – the hair as Bill Murray The K is pretty impressive.
No, the reason I wanted to open with these two is because they are the last Bill Murray bit roles that happened before “bit role” would turn into “cameo.” A member of SNL at the time, for better or for worse he was doing little parts in his colleague’s work. The result is two of the weirdest films you’ll ever see with Bill Murray in it. Want proof?
9. “American” in The Limits Of Control
Jim Jarmusch and Bill Murray are such a delightful pair. The reason is that Jarmusch specializes in a certain level of what some might call tedium in his work, brought on by his patient pacing style and simple story lines that often conclude inconclusively. Murray is the kind of guy that you can just stick on screen without a word of dialogue and manage to somehow act entertaining. So together, Murray seems to compliment the simple moments that Jarmusch creates.
In the case of The Limits Of Control, the role is brief, filled with profanity, and cut surprisingly short before it even begins. So in other words, exactly what you’d expect from this director.
8. Mayor Cole in City Of Ember
City of Ember is pretty much THX 1138 for kids. The world is an underground one, fearful of the toxic surface and corrupt from centuries-old tradition and power mongering as well as blatant incompetence. The big difference is that our supreme ruler is none other than Bill Murray, who serves as the film’s villainous mayor who hoards canned goods and like, chases kids around. It’s a weird film. The whole world is lit by hanging floodlights, which is the first big indicator that we’re seeing some kind of weirdo movie.
The whole look and feel is very Guillermo Del Toro/Jean-Pierre Jeunet but without the blatant weirdness, which makes it almost weirder in a way. Sticking Bill Murray as the bad guy in this world just makes it all more confusing to watch.
7. Lefty Schwartz in Coming Attractions aka Loose Shoes aka Quackers
First sign that a movie might have some kind of production problem is when it has three names. Coming Attractions seems like a great idea; a sketch comedy movie presented as a series of movie trailers could say a lot about the state of Hollywood while serving as a great canvas for hilarity, but considering that no one has heard of this film it probably didn’t work out that way. In fact, is this not also, more or less, the idea behind Movie 43? Maybe this is a cursed premise.
Anyway, Bill Murray’s bit is that of a death row inmate being shit on by fate while trying to find a tunnel out. The whole thing is downright bizarre, never concluding its own premise. And yet, it has Bill Murray, so that’s enough to ramp it up to “watchable.” “Interesting,” even.
6. Hunter S. Thompson in Where The Buffalo Roam
No one is going to blame you for not knowing about this film, however this is probably the most known “unknown” Murray role out there. After all, holy shit. The film itself was doomed from the start, optioned with Thompson’s blessing only due to his disbelief it would get made. When it actually did get put together, the script was so out of touch with the spirit of the original article it was based on (the obituary of activist Oscar Zeta Acosta) that almost everyone involved put more energy into having fun while making the film than actually making it.
Bill Murray overwhelmed himself in Thompson, who was on set as a consultant – but claimed have “wandered around and fired machine guns on the set” instead of actually consulting. Along with engulfing himself in the character, Murray also engulfed himself in water as he almost drowned when Thompson threw him in a swimming pool during a contest to see who could “out-Houdini whom.” So basically it’s a terrible movie as well as the best fucking production that ever happened.