Movie Article

Hail Murray

A Bill Murray filmography -- A look back at the actor's film career, from ''Meatballs' to ''What About Bob?''

During a couple of mad-dash limo rides, Bill Murray free-associated his way through his film career.

MEATBALLS (1979) A low-budget hit that marked Murray's film debut, as a wacky camp counselor. ''The makeup artist smoked cigarettes and burned my face the first day. So I wasn't going to have my hair done. I was gonna do it with my fingers and get a suntan and that was gonna be that. Originally it was about these counselors and the wild time they were having. When they put it together they found the movie was about this kid (Chris Makepeace) and me, so we added some scenes where we worked together.''

CADDYSHACK (1980) He shines as demented grounds-keeper Carl Spackler. ''I like to say it was the greatest golf film ever. And anyone who worked on it became golf royalty.''

WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM (1980) Murray plays journalist Hunter S. Thompson in this little-seen comedy. ''I rented a house in L.A. with a guest house that Hunter lived in. I'd work all day and stay up all night with him; I was strong in those days. I took on another persona and that was tough to shake. I still have Hunter in me.''

STRIPES (1981) Murray and Harold Ramis join the Army. ''I'm still a little queasy that I actually made a movie where I carry a machine gun. But I felt if you were rescuing your friends it was okay. It wasn't Reds or anything, but it captured what it was like on an Army base: It was cold, you had to wear the same green clothes, you had to do a lot of physical stuff, you got treated pretty badly, and had bad coffee.''

TOOTSIE (1982) He plays Dustin Hoffman's roomie in this gender-bending smash. ''I think in some ways it's my favorite movie of either Sydney Pollack's or Dustin Hoffman's. We improvised a lot on my part — there wasn't much in the script. They had the idea for the character, and we just started making up stuff, and they kept it all.''

GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) Murray scores big as an investigator of the paranormal who helps keep New York City ghost-free. ''I can really watch the first half hour to 45 minutes. There's some really, really funny acting. I think it stacks up with anything.''

THE RAZOR'S EDGE (1984) His first dramatic role, adapted from the Somerset Maugham novel about a man who's spiritually lost after serving in World War I. ''I kind of deluded myself that there would be a lot of interest. I made a big mistake. The studio wanted to make it a modern movie, and I said no, it should be a period piece. I was wrong and they were right. The day I finished shooting I said, 'If this never comes out, the experience will have been worth it.' I still feel that way.''

SCROOGED (1988) He's a wicked TV exec in this modern Christmas Carol. ''That's a tough one; I still have trouble talking about it. I thought it was an extraordinary script, but I saw a different movie from what the director (Richard Donner) saw. There was a fair amount of misery making it. We disagreed so much that neither of us was particularly happy with it.''

GHOSTBUSTERS II (1989) The inevitable sequel. ''I didn't want to do it for a long time. Then somebody called a meeting — we hadn't been together since the first one had come out — and we had two hours of laughs, so I said what the heck. But the script was not what I was told it was gonna be, and it turned into a lot of special effects and not much of us.''

QUICK CHANGE (1990) Murray codirected this comedy about a man who dresses as a clown to rob a bank. ''The most fun movie experience I've ever had — until the release. Nobody was selling the movie. The week before it came out I said, 'Don't even open the movie now. Let's start over and I'll do another round of press junkets. Don't spend this money, it's a waste of time.' But (Warner Bros.) spent it anyway. I think in 10 years people are going to say, 'That was a really good movie.'''

WHAT ABOUT BOB? (1991) Murray plays a phobic patient who follows his psychiatrist (Richard Dreyfuss) on vacation. ''It's entertaining — everybody knows somebody like that Bob guy. (Richard Dreyfuss and I) didn't get along on the movie particularly, but it worked for the movie. I mean, I drove him nuts, and he encouraged me to drive him nuts.''

Originally posted Mar 19, 1993 Published in issue #162 Mar 19, 1993 Order article reprints