(Credit: Jim Jarmusch / David Shankbone)


The day Jim Jarmusch met Bill Murray

Life has no plot, why must films or fiction?” – Jim Jarmusch

Bill Murray has repeatedly collaborated with acclaimed filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, beginning with a bit part in Jarmusch’s 2003 black-and-white vignette anthology Coffee and Cigarettes. Over the years, they worked together two more times.

Murray starred as a retired computer magnate in Jarmusch’s 2005 comedy-drama Broken Flowers, a film which won the Grand Prix, the runner-up prize at the Cannes Film Festival. “That was better for Jim,” Murray said. “He could win and not feel awkward. His victory was a bit off to the side. And he’s happier there.”

It was a partnership made in the heavens, an actor and director so closely aligned in their creative vision that a successful collaboration was indefatigable. Jarmusch, who now considers Murray a close friend and colleague, again reunited their passion for his 2019 film The Dead Don’t Die, a project in which Murray plays a police chief in a town overrun by zombies—like we said, a match made in heaven.

While the two now seem to be perfectly in sync with their cinematic drive, it hasn’t always been the case. Their friendship all started with a cup of coffee in the early 1990s, a chance meeting which remains ingrained in the memory of Jarmusch.

“That’s Bill bleeping Murray,” Jarmusch said to himself when he spotted a familiar-looking guy approaching him while he was walking north on Manhattan’s Columbus Avenue. “Bill walked right up to me and said, ‘You’re Jim, right?’” Jarmusch recalled. “And I said, ‘Yeah. You’re Bill Murray.’ And then he said, ‘You want to get a cup of coffee?'”

After talking to each other for half an hour in a nearby diner, Murray announced, “I gotta go. Nice talking to you.” Jarmusch admits that he was rather confused by the sudden meeting and certainly a little starstruck, “We didn’t talk again for years but I told my friends: I met Bill Murray,” he explained in what is yet another growing tale of Murray’s unique personal encounters.

Although Jarmusch still remembers this chance encounter, Murray has no clue about it, probably because chance encounters have become the actor’s signature move. “I don’t recollect much,” Murray said. “When somebody asks me ‘How’d you meet?’ I say I really don’t know.”