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Bill Murray's Wonderful "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit

January 22, 2014  |  11:00am
Bill Murray's Wonderful "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect combination of “fascinating star” and “Internet feature” than Bill Murray and a Reddit AMA, and, as of yesterday, we no longer have to try. Like a character from one of his own legendary tall tales, Bill Murray dropped in to Reddit unannounced and fielded questions on every topic under the sun. You can read the whole thing here, but we’ve compiled some of the best answers for your convenience.

I’m going to start with the one that tickled me the most—why did Bill Murray do the horrendous Garfield movies? Turns out, it was a weird case of mistaken identity:

Someone asked “will there be a Garfield 3?”

I don’t think so. I had a hilarious experience with Garfield. I only read a few pages of it, and I kind of wanted to do a cartoon movie, because I had looked at the screenplay and it said “Joel Cohen” on it.

And I wasn’t thinking clearly, but it was spelled Cohen, not Coen.

I love the Coen brothers movies. I think that Joel Coen is a wonderful comedic mind.

So I didn’t really bother to finish the script, I thought “he’s great, I’ll do it.”

The answer goes on from there, but really, can you improve on that start? Next, someone asked about the time he hired a deaf and mute assistant on the set of Groundhog Day because he had just gotten divorced and wanted to make it difficult for any media to reach him.

Well, we didn’t part well. I don’t communicate with her, she was a she. I was sort of ambitious thinking that I could hire someone that had the intelligence to do a job but didn’t have necessarily speech or couldn’t quite hear or spoke in sign language. She was a bright person and witty but she had never been away from her home before and even though I tried to accommodate more than I understood when I first hired her, she was very young in her emotional self and the emotional component of being away from her home was lacking. I tried my best, but I was working all day. She was lovely and very smart, but there’s a lot of frustration when you meet people who can’t speak well. Being completely disabled in that area causes a great amount of frustration, and this was going back 30 years or so before ether were the educational components that there are today. It didn’t go particularly well for me, but for a few weeks she really was a light and had a real spirit to her. She was like one of your own kids that never had a job, and then they get a job and realize that certain things are expected, and you can’t react to everything you don’t like or care about. So the first time you have a job and someone says “you have to do this” – it was more complicated than she imagined. We were both optimistic, but it was harder than either of us expected to make it work.

Okay. What about the most bizarre experience he had in Japan while filming Lost in Translation?

The oddest… well, I was eating at a sushi bar. I would go to sushi bars with a book I had called “Making out in Japanese.” it was a small paperback book, with questions like “can we get into the back seat?” “do your parents know about me?” “do you have a curfew?”

And I would say to the sushi chef “Do you have a curfew? Do your parents know about us? And can we get into the back seat?”

And I would always have a lot of fun with that, but that one particular day, he said “would you like some fresh eel?” and I said “yes I would.” so he came back with a fresh eel, a live eel, and then he walked back behind a screen and came back in 10 seconds with a no-longer-alive eel. It was the freshest thing I had ever eaten in my life. It was such a funny moment to see something that was alive that no longer was alive, that was my food, in 30 seconds.

Yessssss. But let’s get serious. What does Bill Murray think about recreational marijuana?

Well that’s a large question, isn’t it? Because you’re talking about recreation, which everyone is in favor of. You are also talking about something that has been illegal for so many years, and marijuana is responsible for such a large part of the prison population, for the crime of self-medication. And it takes millions and billions of dollars by incarcerating people for this crime against oneself as best can be determined. People are realizing that the war on drugs is a failure, that the amount of money spent, you could have bought all the drugs with that much money rather than create this army of people and incarcerated people. I think the terror of marijuana was probably overstated. I don’t think people are really concerned about it the way they once were. Now that we have crack and crystal and whatnot, people don’t even think about marijuana anymore, it’s like someone watching too many videogames in comparison. The fact that states are passing laws allowing it means that its threat has been over-exagerated. Psychologists recommend smoking marijuana rather than drinking if you are in a stressful situation. These are ancient remedies, alcohol and smoking, and they only started passing laws against them 100 years ago.

Next time I feel bad about drinking too much, I’m just going to remember that Bill Murray called it an “ancient remedy.” And then I’ll feel noble, and drink some more.

Next, let’s turn to his thoughts about the current SNL cast:

They’re good. I don’t know them as well as I knew the previous one. But i really feel like the previous cast, that was the best group since the original group. They were my favorite group. Some really talented people that were all comedians of some kind or another. You think about Dana Carvey, Will, Hartman, all these wonderful funny guys. But the last group with Kristen Wiig and those characters, they were a bunch of actors and their stuff was just different. It’s all about the writing, the writing is such a challenge and you are trying to write backwards to fit 90 minutes between dress rehearsal and the airing. And sometimes the writers don’t get the whole thing figured out, it’s not like a play where you can rehearse it several times. So good actors – and those were really good actors, and there are some great actors in this current group as well I might add – they seem to be able to solve writing problems, improvisational actors, can solve them on their feet. They can solve it during the performance, and make a scene work. It’s not like we were improvising when we made the shows, but you could feel ways to make things better. And when you get into the third dimension, as opposed to the printed page, you can see ways to solve things and write things live that other sorts of professionals don’t necessarily have. And that’s why I like that previous group. So this group, there are definitely some actors in this group, I see them working in the same way and making scenes go. They really roll very nicely, they have great momentum, and it seems like they are calm in the moment.

Finally, how does Bill Murray feel about being so awesome?

Well, nothing prepared me for being this awesome. It’s kind of a shock. It’s kind of a shock to wake up every morning and be bathed in this purple light.

Perfect. Again, read the entire AMA, which includes more of Murray’s thoughts on Wes Anderson, Jim Jarmusch, pickles, golf, and more, here.

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