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Bill Murray is a comedic enigma that defies the normal logic or reasoning that supposedly rules the way things run in Hollywood. If anyone knows this fact first hand, it'd be the directors that try to hire him, especially Ted Melfi – the first time writer/director of Murray's latest film, St. Vincent. Normally if you want to hire an actor for your film, you'd set up some sort of appointment with their agent/manager, they'll reach out to their client, and the three parties would work something out in an eventually timely manner. Suffice it to say, this is not the case with Bill Murray.
If this L.A. Times article is any indication, then hiring Bill Murray for a movie is basically akin to trying to solve a Robert Langdon mystery. Now while Murray doesn't have a manager, he does have an attorney and a 1-800 number, both of which help facilitate the journey to get Peter Venkman's reality based counterpart to star in that film you crafted with him alone in mind. In short, you have to call that number and leave messages, lots of messages. If he likes what he hears, he'll eventually forward on a P.O. Box to send a script to. If he likes that script, he will find your number, then call you at a random time to ask about an immediate meeting that could take place at any location in the world. If you're lucky, he might just show up to your local airport and ask you to take a ride with him, as he did for Ted Melfi following his read through of St. Vincent. FYI, he'll want to stop at In N Out.
The labor intensive process Ted Melfi went through to get Bill Murray to star in St. Vincent might sound like a nightmare, except for the fact that at the head of all of the madness is Bill Murray, holding court amidst the chaos. With his image being what it is, both on screen and off, this multi-step process is less the work of an actor being uberpicky and more the deliberate design of a man who chooses his projects as carefully as he can in this phase of his career. Whether St. Vincenttrailer included below.
This is not to say that everyone who works with Bill Murray needs to go through these steps. It's hard to imagine Bill Murray having Wes Anderson or even Jon Favreau jump through these hoops, instead of the obvious carrier pigeon service they use exclusively to contact each other about their latest project and wardrobe choices. But if you're ever trying to hire Bill Murray for your next movie, and you start down the path Ted Melfi had to tread in order to secure his participation, don't despair. The ride is worth it in the end, and whether it's a success or not, you'll have a hell of a story to tell.
St. Vincent opens on October 24th.