It’s not often that the inimitable Mr. Murray makes himself available to the press; he’s usually content to just do the work, crash a party, and slip away with a mysterious Mona Lisa smile. But, after presenting his film “Rock the Kasbah” (filmed in Morocco) and receiving an Etoile D’or Lifetime Achievement award at the Marrakech International Film Festival, he availed himself to reporters in a lengthy and wide ranging press conference. While a a somber discussion of world political issues, terrorism, and the role of Murray’s Middle East set “Rock the Kasbah” took focus, there were plenty of lighter topics to discuss too. We’ve already brought you the news of his involvement in Wes Anderson’s new animated film, but here’s five of our other favorite moments from his talk.
1. “Ghostbusters” remake is “a fantastic idea”
Truth be told, Murray was reluctant to talk “Ghostbusters,” but the masses want what they want. And Murray’s only got good things to say about the forthcoming female remake in which he’ll make a cameo.
Murray approves of the gender-swap concept, saying “I love this idea, I think it’s a fantastic idea. I think it solves the problem of, ‘How do you make another one?,’ because the movie company really wanted to make another one. Good Grief, it’s a franchise and a very popular, successful one. That’s how they work nowadays: they like to recreate ‘Star Wars‘ or ‘Die Hard‘ or whatever the franchise is. They make money and they like to roll them out.”
He also approves of the casting, saying “Those girls are really funny. I went and worked on the job for a day with them, and they are funny. You get those four girls on a screen and its going to be funny.” Though he had his reservations about the remake itself, the conception and casting swayed him towards appearing in the remake: “I felt like I had to go see it. I was reluctant — I never wanted to make another one — but when it was the girls I thought, okay, I like all these girls. I’ve worked with Melissa McCarthy, I’ve worked Kristen Wiig a little bit. They’re funny as heck. It’s an empowering thing, girls just want to have fun and they’re really having fun.”
2. There may be another collaboration with Sofia Coppola on the horizon.
Murray spoke fondly of his “Lost in Translation” director, with whom he reunited on his Netflix special, “A Very Murray Christmas” (she also presented his award on Friday night). Murray said, “we have a very good relationship professionally. We made that film in Japan and I always thought, well, maybe she’ll call me about a movie sometime. I liked the experience a lot in so many, many ways. She’s been telling me now that she’s writing something, if my behavior is good.”
As for the genesis of Christmas special, Murray said that, “Sofia had an idea that she’d like to see me sing someplace, like Chet Baker, but in a sort of club. Mitch Glazer [writer on ‘Christmas’ and ‘Kasbah’] had this idea to make it a Christmas show, and then I was reminded of some other event and said they’re all trapped in a hotel and sing with the staff of the hotel.” Ever the self-deprecating self-promoter, Murray sounded about as enthusiastic as he could be in endorsing the show: “I hate to be that guy but I really like this one, this Christmas thing. If you like Christmas it’s really good. Even if you don’t like Christmas it’s really good.”
3. Directing could be on the horizon.
Murray proudly spoke of the 1990 film “Quick Change,” which he co-directed with Howard Franklin, especially the performances (the film features Jason Robards, Tony Shaloub, Stanley Tucci, Geena Davis and Randy Quaid). But directing is still an option that Murray is considering. “We’ve got one that we might do again. I can’t tell you today because we’re skulking around. There’s a movie that we’d like to make, with the fella that I worked on this one with [Mitch Glazer]. I thought I was going to direct movies all the time, but that didn’t happen. Because I did like the experience, I can talk to actors okay, and I’ve got an eye, a visual eye, you know I can write a little bit. I think we’ve got one coming,” he teased.
4. He’s definitely going to be singing more.
Sofia Coppola was onto something when she suggested Murray sing in “A Very Murray Christmas,” because he’s been bitten by the bug, and it seems to have awoken a new passion for the comedian. He performs an enthusiastic, if amateurish version of “Smoke on the Water” in “Rock the Kasbah,” and even sings in the forthcoming “The Jungle Book,” too. Murray said, “I got to sing in New Orleans with these great musicians and that’s when I really went ‘wow!’ All of a sudden this voice came out of me. I’ve always been able to sing, and I used to do a play a character of a real bad lounge singer, but I find I can sing and hold notes, and I was amazed how well I could sing, so it’s a new excitement for me.” Could a Murray album be on the way…?
5. He’s a bit conflicted about fame and the “idea” of Bill Murray as a cultural icon.
Known for both his reclusiveness (when asked “how does one get in touch with you?” he shot back “that’s not my problem”) and also his social nature, especially his unexpected party crashing, Murray was honest and contemplative about his attitude towards fame. He said, “it takes a lot of energy to go out there because you get a lot of attention. I’m not going to complain about being famous because I hate people that do that. The only really good thing about being famous is you get attention in an emergency room when you take your child to the hospital, that’s the absolute number one good thing about being famous. The rest of it, eh, I don’t care so much.”
But Murray refuses to let fame dictate his life: “I don’t want to paralyzed by being famous you know? It can be daunting — you get a lot of attention. You’re just trying to dance at the party and then it becomes a photo shoot. Everyone’s got a cell phone camera. Wait a minute, we’re dancing, can you just dance? Stop. This is a party now, I’m not working now. It drives me crazy, that part of it. I used to think autographs were hard, now I wish autographs would come back.”
Murray’s extremely careful to avoid sounding too self-important, but he’s certainly aware of the way people view him as a symbol or icon. As a performer, he stresses that he’s “a vehicle for some sort of idea. You are representing what people want you to become. There’s no halo up here, there’s no gold star up here, I just happen to be as an actor, I have the capability to tell a story.” However, he tries his best to be “as complete a person as I can when I work, as honest as I can. Just trying, that’s all. I know what a failure I am in so many ways as a human. I can’t act like I’m the savior of the world.”
When people abstract his image into pop art, Murray thinks that, “there’s a kind of charm to it, you feel a little bit fluffed by it. If it’s actually creative, it’s great, it’s fantastic. People use it a little creatively, I think they feel a little freedom to, and I’m not going to discourage that. I always think that will end and then a scourge will come my way. People hunting me like Peter Lorre in ‘M.’”