Bill Murray's Best Quotes on Acting and Fame
The truth is, anybody that becomes famous is an ass for a year and a half. You’ve got to give them a year and a half, two years. They are getting so much smoke blown, and their whole world gets so turned upside down, their responses become distorted. I give everybody a year or two to pull it together because, when it first happens, I know how it is.
There aren’t many downsides to being rich, other than paying taxes and having relatives asking for money. But being famous, that’s a 24 hour job right there.
I’m over the Oscar thing. I feel that if you really want an Oscar, you’re in trouble. It’s like wanting to be married - you’ll take anybody. If you want the Oscar really badly, it becomes a naked desire and ambition. It becomes very unattractive. I’ve seen it.
You know the theory of cell irritability?. If you take an amoeba cell and poke it a thousand times, it will change and then re-form into its original shape. And then, the thousandth time you poke this amoeba, the cell will completely collapse and become nothing. That’s kind of what it’s like being famous. People say hi, how are you doing, and after the thousandth time, you just get angry; you really pop.
There’s definitely a lot of trash that comes with the prize of being famous. It’s a nice gift, but there’s a lot of wrapping and paper and junk to cut through. Back then, when a movie came out and people saw you on the street, their reaction was so supercharged that it was scary. It would frighten other people. It used to really rattle me. I mean, everybody would love to have their clothes torn off by a mob of girls, but being screamed at is different.
[On Awards Speeches] Why would you get up there and bore people? I never have figured that out. These people are supposedly in the entertainment industry, and they finally get up there to that podium and they become the most boring people in the world.
Whenever I think of the high salaries we are paid as film actors, I think it is for the travel, the time away, and any trouble you get into through being well known. It’s not for the acting, that’s for sure.
[On Quick Change] We couldn’t get anyone we liked to direct the movie. We asked Jonathan Demme, and he said no. We asked Ron Howard, because Ron had made something that I thought was funny (Parenthood) …and he said he didn’t know who to root for in the script. He lost me at that moment. I’ve never gone back to him since.
When you did the job, you thought you were just trying to amuse your friends who are all on the job. I’m just trying to make the sound guy laugh, the script supervisor. A movie like ‘Caddyshack’, I can walk on a golf course and some guy will be screaming entire scenes at me and expecting me to do it word for word with him. It’s like, ‘Fella, I did that once. I improvised that scene. I don’t remember how it goes’. But I’m charmed by it. I’m not like, ‘Hey, knock it off’. It’s kind of cool.
Awards are meaningless to me, and I have nothing but disdain for anyone who actively campaigns to get one.
There’s only a couple times when fame is ever helpful. Sometimes you can get into a restaurant where the kitchen is just closing. Sometimes you can avoid a traffic violation. But the only time it really matters is in the emergency room with your kids. That’s when you want to be noticed, because it’s very easy to get forgotten in an ER. It’s the only time when I would ever say, “Thank God. Thank God.” There’s no other time.
I live to go down with those guys that have no fuckin’ chance. It’s like that Tim Robbins movie I did. [Cradle with Rock] … So I see the script, and he goes, “Whaddya think?” And I said, “It doesn’t have a chance. It doesn’t have a chance in hell, Tim! [laughs] But you know what? I gotta like you for trying.” Those are my people, you know? The ones who are going to crash and burn.
My first movie, I got nominated for a Canadian Oscar—for Meatballs. For MEATBALLS. And who am I up against? George C. Scott. So he wins the award and I stand up and go, ‘That’s it—let’s get the hell outta here.’
“So I’m tellin’ this story to someone I’m sittin’ next to, and when Sean Penn wins, I think they’re goin’ to a commercial. I say, ‘That’s it—I’m outta here,’ and I start to get up, and Billy Crystal sees me and he’s like, ‘Whoa, Bill, sit down.’ He thinks it’s serious. I was just screwin’ around, and he thought it was real—because I’m such an effective actor, I guess.”