In what is slowly becoming our favourite feature in Far Out Magazine, we’ve been alerted to yet another fantastic anecdote surrounding the incomparable Hollywood hero Bill Murray.
Murray, whose personality seems to have no bounds both on and off the screen, has seen him gatecrash engagement photos, give impromptu speeches at bachelor parties or, in some cases, randomly applying for a job in an Asian restaurant at the back of Atlanta Airport.
It has become well known that Murray’s mysterious behaviour has landed him in some unusual positions and, at times, the situations don’t differ too far from a storyline which would be built around a comedy film starring the man himself—a subject that leads us nicely on to the Harold Ramis’ 1993 film Groundhog Day.
We’re already aware that Mr Murray is not the type of man to remain organised in the traditional sense. With no agent, manager or contactable phone number, the actor has been known to become frustratingly difficult to pin down during tight filming schedules—something director Ramis found out emphatically during Groundhog Day. At the time of filming, Murray’s first marriage was dissolving and the personal problems had impacted his mood on set: “I learned to step back,” Ramis once said in an interview with EW. “You don’t step in front of a train. You just let it go by.”
Murray’s lack of excitement for work at the time had turned his relationship with the crew into a difficult one and, as the battle to contact the lead actor threatened to boil over, the production staff had an idea to make things a little easier for all involved… but Murray wasn’t about to let that happen.
“Bill had all these obvious resentments toward the production, so it was very hard for a time to communicate with him,” Ramis once explained. “Calls would go unreturned. Production assistants couldn’t find him. So someone said, ‘Bill, you know, things would be easier if you had a personal assistant. Then we wouldn’t have to bother you with all this stuff.’ And he said, ‘Okay.’
“So he hired a personal assistant who was profoundly deaf, did not have oral speech, spoke only American sign language, which Bill did not speak, nor did anyone else in the production. But Bill said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to learn sign language.’ And I think it was so inconvenient that in a couple weeks, he gave that up. That’s anti-communication, you know? Let’s not talk.”
The whole experience proved to the final moment for Ramis who, up until Groundhog Day, had worked successfully with Murray on five previous occasions. Upon completion of the film, the director swore he would never collaborate with Murray again… and he has stayed true to his word, sadly.