Bill Murray has, for better or worse, been capitalizing on his general Bill Murray-ness for a long time now. He’s a singular character, a true eccentric, his acting career nearly inextricable from his party-crashing, kickball-playing public persona. The two feed upon one another, depending on each other for their very survival. And nobody seems to know that more than Murray himself: In a new Vanity Fair profile, Mitch Glazer — a longtime Murray friend whose scripts include the Murray-starring Scrooged and the new Rock the Kasbah — follows Murray through Morocco as he shoots Rock the Kasbah. The actor is at Peak Murray, ranting in party-bus aisles, wrangling Miley Cyrus for his Christmas special, and — finally! — admitting he’s ready to get back into straight comedy. Here are the top five most Murray-esque moments from the piece:
In Which Bill Murray Awakens Mitch Glazer To Yell At Him About How Great Rock The Kasbah Will Be, Then Blames It On His North African Eating Habits
“On the bus to Rabat, I leave Murray asleep across the back seats and move up front behind Abdul. It is a long, quiet ride; the Atlantic is heavy in the air yet invisible in the darkness,” writes Glazer. “I let myself be lulled into a North African road dream when Murray suddenly looms in the aisle beside me. ‘Fuck it!’ he says, shaking his head. ‘Fuck it. I’m not gonna worry about jinxing us or any of that anymore. This movie is great. Every day ends and I’m lying in bed thinking, ‘Holy shit. We killed this scene today!’ So hell with it—we have one week left and I am going to celebrate what the hell we have done here! Okay?!! Okay?!!'” Glazer, stunned, notes that in 30 years, he’s “never heard Murray say anything remotely like this mid-film. Murray then “nods at his own truth,” and lies down to sleep.
Is there anything Bill Murray-er than looming over a sleeping human, ranting about greatness, angst, and “jinxing” oneself? As it turns out, there is: Explaining away said rant by blaming it on the basic vibe of North Africa. “A year later,” Glazer writes, “Murray and I are driving through a Charleston, South Carolina, monsoon and I remind him about his midnight Moroccan party-van epiphany, about the magical summer in North Africa. ‘It’s a whole different world,’ he says. ‘It really just raises the whole bar. Because you are — your consciousness has changed, because your ordinary stimuli are gone. You’re eating different; you’re sleeping different; you’re drinking different. Everything’s different; your whole body’s different; the weather is different. The sky is different; the bacteria in the air is different. The people in the street are different. And you’re left with what’s essential.” What’s essential = ranting about Rock the Kasbah on a party bus.
In Which Bill Murray Describes The Inner Workings Of His Mind Whilst Sitting In His ‘Ramble’
Bill Murray has a room that he refers to as his “ramble.” It is a “cozy, traditional, and manly study.” Here’s what’s in it: A fireplace, an overstuffed couch, an overflowing bookcase, golf clubs, “serious” stereo equipment, and 1 (one) basketball. Murray chooses his ramble — bathed in the late-afternoon light — as the setting in which to discuss the nature of celebrity, of his “inside voice,” and the general fear he feels when he’s called upon to perform.
“You know, being famous is obviously not a Devil’s deal,” he tells Glazer. “I love the opportunity to work. It’s the thing I do best. I’m a much better person when I’m working. I’m at my absolute best, because it’s the ultimate terror. It’s the ultimate terror that I will not arrive, the ultimate terror that I am not. You know? That I am not. But I don’t feel that needy for the celebrity part of it. You have your inside voice, and you have your outside voice, like little kids. Well, my outside voice is the ‘Bill Murray’ that people know. And my inside voice is — is me. And sometimes that voice is heard. I can speak it aloud, when I’m really at my best. You can hear my inside voice.” This is pretty fascinating and self-aware — two Murray hallmarks. It’s also vaguely frightening, which is another Murray hallmark.
Later in the piece, Murray explains that this inner voice is his true, “supreme” self — and that his public self is “so shallow.” “The only thing is if you don’t listen to it enough, you don’t hear it enough,” he says. “That voice can’t be diminished. It can only be under-utilized—and mine is under-utilized. Everyone’s is under-utilized. I mean, God, I’m just so shallow, most of my day. You know? Most of my week, most of my month and year and life. But there is this desire, this wish to do better. Not in a competitive sense, but to just arrive, to show up. It’s when you kind of quiet down, slow things down—everything sort of turns back inside and sort of re-settles. Then, maybe, you can hear something.”
In Which Bill Murray Expounds At Length About Buying Combs And The Powerful Pull Of Drugstore Cashews
Ever wondered what a young, impoverished Bill Murray gave people for Christmas? “As a kid, I never had any money at Christmas,” he tells Glazer. “So, I was desperately scrounging for gifts that would be somewhat practical and functional. In the early days, they would cost a dime. Literally a dime. You would go to, like, a variety store. And you would get people combs. ‘Hey, you’re getting a comb this year.’ And I mean, like, a pocket comb. Like an Ace pocket comb. And then girls had hairnets, so you buy them a hairnet. When I was really feeling flush they’d get a comb and a hairnet.”