The Independently Minded Bill Murray
"A look back at all of the indie gems Bill Murray has imparted with his one-of-a-kind charisma"
Bill Murray is without a doubt one of the most intriguing figures in Hollywood. Quirky, oddball, genius... whatever you want to label him, the man is certainly iconic. When St. Vincent
director Theodore Malfi wrote the script to his first feature film, he knew that Murray would be the perfect fit for the part. However, as a young independent filmmaker, obtaining the services of such in-demand talent is not an easy task (compounded by the fact that Murray does not have an agent). Of course Melfi was able to get Murray for his film (if you haven't read how, THIS
is worth the read), which was released on October 10, and has been expanding to more and more theaters throughout the United States.
In honor of Melfi and Murray's new film, we have decided to do a retrospective on Murray's casting in smaller, more independent roles. Some are offbeat, others much more serious, but each share in Murray's singular talent, and penchant for being darkly-humorous.
5. Groundhog Day
After massive successes following his career on Saturday Night Live
, Bill Murray's film career was in need of a change following the disappointing failure of 1984's Razor's Edge
. Murray took four years off from films in order to study philosophy and history at the Sorbonne in Paris. Resurrecting his career in the late 80's with Ghostbusters II
, Murray saw a pick-up in the types of roles that he was offered. Teaming up with Ghostbusters
co-star, Harold Ramis, Murray took a role in a small film about a weather man in eastern Pennsylvania. While covering the annual Groundhog Day festivities, Murray's Phil finds himself repeating the same day over-and-over again. Massively successful, and a semi-departure from Murray's usual slap-stick comedy, Groundhog Day
marks one of the major turning points in Murray's career.
4/3. Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums (and 5 other Wes Anderson films)
Revitalizing Murray's career in the late 90's, Wes Anderson provided him with an opportunity to do a more darkly-comedic role that played heavily toward his strengths. Freshly off the success of his and Owen Wilson's debut, Bottle Rocket
, Anderson needed a big name for his follow up feature. Landing Murray turned out to be a mutually-beneficial success, leading to their continued cooperation, and Murray earnings roles (large or small) in Anderson's next six films. Rushmore
showed the world that Murray could play a more serious role, and had some sincere acting ability. Nominated for a Golden Globe and winning several critic's awards, Murray reinvented his career with a shift towards the dramatic. Murray worked with Anderson on his next film, The Royal Tenenbaums
, which also received widespread acclaim. While not as large of a part for Murray, The Royal Tenenbaums
helped to develop Anderson's career, and further hone his personal style.
2. Broken Flowers
Breaking the chronological tendency, and skipping forward to 2005, Murray parlayed a small role in Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes
into a leading role in Jarmusch's Broken Flowers
. The critically-acclaimed arthouse director was able to secure Murray on the condition that none of the filming be done more than one-hour's drive away from his home in Hudson Valley, NY. An incredibly small and intimate film, Broken Flowers
had a budget of $10 million, and was written in under three weeks. Murray was cast as the solemn neighbor of an amateur “detective,” who embarks on a journey to find his illegitimate son after receiving an anonymous letter from an ex-lover. A tortured and quiet Murray imparts characteristics from his past performances, to deliver an incredibly heart-felt performance as the lonely business man. Winning the Grand Prix at Cannes film festival, Jarmusch's picture was held in very high critical regard.
1. Lost in Translation
Perhaps Bill Murray's most critically-heralded role came at the hands of Sofia Coppola's incredible direction and script. Her second feature after The Virgin Suicides
, Lost in Translation
helped bolster the careers of both Murray and his co-star (the now incredibly famous) Scarlett Johansson. Winning an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and getting Murray his first (and only) Oscar nomination, Lost in Translation
became an international hit with both audiences and critics. Featuring the budding relationship between two ex-pats living abroad in Japan, Coppola's film is as compelling as it is beautiful. Cementing his place as an “actor” and not simply a comedian, Lost in Translation
reintroduced Murray to a younger generation, and launched him into pop-culture super-stardom.