About a decade ago, Bill Murray’s public persona took an almost mythical turn when stories emerged of him crashing karaoke parties and snatching others’ french fries. The stories first surfaced as, just that, stories, but photographic proof eventually appearing on social media, and it all felt delightfully random. Folks yearned to experience the urban legend that ended with a whisper: “No one will ever believe you.” Yet Murray also revealed that forcing an encounter with him can lead to ill-tempered disaster, so what would happen if someone chose to pursue Murray across the country with that very purpose?
That’s exactly what Sadie Katz (Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort, Blood Feast) set out to do after reaching an existential crossroads. As star and director of the new documentary, The Bill Murray Experience, her quest — to find the man she referred to as “the magical unicorn” — spiraled into an obsession. It was a process that, as Katz tells it, cost her several friends, a boyfriend, and a chunk of her sanity.
Along the way, Katz received some valuable insight from Murray’s Stripes co-star, P.J. Soles (Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, Carrie, Halloween), and his brother, Joel (Mad Men). Soles, who found herself at the mercy of Murray’s ad-libbing abilities during the world-famous “Aunt Jemima Treatment” scene, was gracious enough to chat with us about Katz’s project, which is now available on iTunes and VOD platforms.
You’ve not only had a Bill Murray experience but a Michael Myers experience and a Ramones experience, which were all very different than the Bill Murray experience in Katz’s movie.
[Mine] were all planned and ad-libbed, but she’s looking for the Bill Murray Experience where he comes by and grabs a french fry off the plate. I guess really as she found out at the end of the movie, you can’t create your own Bill Murray experience. you just have to let it happen.
It is an obsession, but I just thought, “Let me jump in here. She wants to interview me, it looks like fun.” A darling girl, and it’s not easy to be an actress, first of all, and second of all, and she directed the movie and let herself be filmed going crazy, basically. [Laughs.] It ended up being really a cute adventure, and I love Jim Towns’ animation in it, too, and that’s how I actually met her. He directed her in a couple of horror films, and then he said, ‘This friend of mine is doing a movie, and I mentioned that I knew you, and since you were in Stripes, and you got to work with Bill Murray, and this is about Bill Murray …” They told me the premise, and I thought, “This sounds crazy, but okay.”
During the film, you state that what Murray is doing is “not unusual, it’s just [that] social media is capturing it.” Can you elaborate?
Well, I obviously think this is more accessible, and people can know about it. Because yes, I think that Bill has always been up to capers, but it wasn’t ever photographed, and it wasn’t ever documented, but now, everybody whips out a cell phone… so, the Bill that I knew back in the ’80s was always up to little antics, so [it’s] nothing new, but now I think he’s having more fun, and the rest of the world is just being able to see what he does.
He probably would have preferred for everything to remain anonymous because he gets his own secret joy out of it. I think one of the first times that I heard of it, he did grab some guy’s french fry off a plate, and he said, “Oh, your friends are never gonna believe that Bill Murray took a french fry off your plate at a Burger King… Hahaha!” But now they will [believe it] because they’ll say, wait a minute, can you do that again? Let me take a picture of it.