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.”
But young Murray wasn’t content just to make sure his family’s hair was kempt and shielded from hot foods. Murray was soon seduced by the swan song of hot, sweet cashews — cashews which would prove to be his financial and moral downfall. “In the drugstores, they used to have a nut display, where nuts would be available in there. And they would be, like, heated. They’d be under a heat lamp. I thought, Hey, you know what? We never have cashews. I’ll buy everyone cashews. So I bought cashews—enough cashews for everyone, divided up into, like, eight groups for my brothers and sisters—and then wrapped them all in tinfoil,” he explains. “Unfortunately, I bought them about a week before Christmas. So I’d think, I don’t think I packed those evenly. Maybe Nancy’s had a couple extra cashews. And I just kept eating, eating—and the bags were getting smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller. So that it was really like everyone was getting about 14 cents’ worth of cashews.”
In Which Bill Murray Terrifies Strangers In Cuba
In August 2009, Glazer and Murray visit Havana, Cuba, because, as Glazer puts it, “I’m there to do research for a script I’m about to write, and Murray is there because it’s Havana.” This makes perfect sense. Of course Murray goes wherever the hell he wants whenever the hell he wants, even if that is Cuba in 2009.
On their last night in town, Murray “tilts his head, picking up the street sounds drifting from the Malecón down the hill” and suggests the two take one last walk together. “It’s after 1 a.m., neither of us speaks a word of Spanish, and we do not know our way around town at all. Before I can respond, Murray heads out into the Cuban night,” writes Glazer. “There is a raw, late-night energy. Nothing sinister, but jagged, unpredictable, and very foreign. People emerge from the shadows, laughing, speaking to us in Spanish.” While nobody in Havana recognizes Murray, they do recognize that he’s a “tall, wealthy American,” and probably also recognize that he knows where to find the cheapest cashews.
Soon, the two are approached by a “burly guy with a heartbreakingly beautiful young, very young, girl on his arm” who “roughly shoves the girl at Murray.” (Maybe she just wanted a hairnet?) Glazer and Murray are then encircled by a small crowd, and the burly guy started telling at them in “rapid, loud, sales-pitch Spanish.” So, naturally, Murray goes vaguely apeshit. Glazer’s description of his outburst is pure gold:
“He squares himself, leans at the big guy, jabs a finger at his face, and with a coiled and undeniable force spits out the words ‘Francis, I am not like the others!’ The man has absolutely no idea what Murray is saying but smiles a bit less securely. Murray repeats, louder this time, ‘Francis, I am not like the others!’ The man is motionless and, as am I, very confused. Murray leans closer to the big man, actually forcing him to stumble back a step, and repeats, jabbing his finger with each word, ‘I… AM… NOT… LIKE… THE… OTHERS!’ The guy’s now frozen jack-o’-lantern grin drops. Understanding the intention, if not the language, he fades back into the night. Murray and I continue down to the Malecón and spend the last few hours in Havana sitting on the seawall between the traffic and the Atlantic, smoking cigars. To this day I have no idea who ‘Francis’ is.”
In Which Bill Murray Suggests He Will Disappear Himself One Day
Fast forward to 2014, when Glazer and Murray are wandering through the medina in Fez on a break from shooting Kasbah. It’s hot, it’s packed, and nobody gives a shit that Bill Murray is in their midst. “He is finally as invisible as the rest of us,” Glazer writes.
Murray, clearly recognizing that he’s become just another anonymous, sweaty white dude, turns to Glazer and says something straight out of the pages of a script somebody might write hoping that it might find its way into the hands of Bill Murray. “You know how I talk about disappearing sometimes? Just, you know, disappearing? Well, if it ever really happens”—Bill Murray takes in the oblivious dusty ocean swirling around him and smiles—”look for me in Fez.”