Bill Murray is perhaps the one thing everyone can agree on. Because who *doesn’t* love Bill Murray? He’s the best.
But is he also kind of the worst?
It’s hard to admit that someone you adore might be imperfect. Harder still when that person is Bill Murray and “imperfect” might be the understatement to end all understatements.
Let’s start small: with being pretty hard to work with. Like how Paul Feig didn’t know until the last possible moment that Bill Murray would be appearing in Ghostbusters.
We were working it all from our back channels, including calling that mystery number—I left this message, and I didn’t know where it went. It could have gone into a black hole, for all I knew, because it just clicks, and you’re like, “Did I just get hung up on?” So we didn’t know. A couple of weeks before shooting, we were like, “Should we be lining up someone else as a back-up, just in case?” What a terrible thing for an actor: “You’re hired, but if Bill Murray shows up, you’re fired.” With about a week to go, we heard, “It looks like he’s going to do it.” And when Bill came on the set, it was really emotional and completely nerve-racking. I collapsed when we finished that day, I was so exhausted.
“OK, but that’s all adorable,” you’re probably saying. Classic Bill. And it makes for a great story. Because “that mystery number” Feig mentioned? Yeah, that’s the only way to get in touch with Murray. Via an 800 number. Seriously.
The hard part with Mr. Murray is that he doesn’t have an agent, publicist or manager. He has an 800 phone number…Leaving messages, he wasn’t even sure he was in fact calling Bill Murray’s line. “It’s not his voice. It’s some kind of SkyTel voice mail: ‘To leave a message, press five.’ I would call and call and call. ‘Bill, my name is Ted. You don’t know me…’ You leave these long-winded messages and end up erasing half of them. Finally, I called his attorney, David Nochimson. He said ‘What number are you calling?’ I said this 800 number, and he said, ‘That’s what I got.’…Mr. Melfi left messages on Mr. Murray’s 800 line over a couple of months during early 2012 before getting a bite: The attorney contacted Mr. Melfi and said Mr. Murray asked for a one-page letter, to be sent to a post-office box in upstate New York. A few weeks later the attorney asked Mr. Melfi to mail the movie script to a post-office box in Martha’s Vineyard. Then another copy to a box in South Carolina.
Secret phone numbers and mysterious PO boxes? He’s like the human deep web. It’s adorable. So charmingly eccentric. Right?
Bill Murray is a drug-addicted spousal abuser and serial adulterer who has abandoned his family, according to a scathing divorce filing by his estranged wife.
Jennifer [Butler] Murray alleges that the Academy Award-nominated actor’s ‘“adultery, addiction to marijuana and alcohol, abusive behavior, physical abuse, sexual addictions and frequent abandonment” led her in 2006 to move into a separate South Carolina home with the couple’s four children. A copy of Jennifer Murray’s court complaint, which was first reported by Charleston’s The Post & Courier, can be found here.
Murray contends that the comedian physically abused her on several occasions during their marriage (they were wed in 1997) and that the star hit her in the face during a November 2007 confrontation in her home. During that incident, the May 12 complaint alleges, the 57-year-old performer “told her she was ‘lucky he didn’t kill her.’”
Jennifer Murray charges that the actor would often leave town without telling her, and sometimes “travels overseas where he engages in public and private altercations and sexual liaisons.” She also claims that he “repeatedly…left threatening voice messages on the home telephone which the minor children have heard.”
We turned on Woody Allen. We turned on Johnny Depp. Deservedly so. But it was easier, wasn’t it? Their more beloved work behind them, the haze of creepy mess long since having blurred what we enjoyed in the first place. With Bill Murray, with true heroes, we ignore. We forget. We hear this stuff and actively attempt to force it out of our brains. And it works. Then we hear about him showing up at parties and 800 numbers and anything negative is completely destroyed in favor of this much more palatable information.
Everyone is terrible. Even the wonderful ones.