ByRicky Derisz, writer at
Staff Writer at MP. "Holy cow, Rick! I didn't know hanging out with you was making me smarter!" Twitter: @RDerisz.
Ricky Derisz

*Warning: This post contains dangerously high levels of Bill Murray awesomeness*

Some Hollywood actors fail to live up to their on screen presence, their real-life personas understandably coming across as toned down versions of characters they've performed on the big screen. Others appear larger than life away from the world of fiction, as is the case with Bill Murray, an enigma who has a persona as intriguing as many of his roles.

You may've heard the rumors. Bill Murray turns up at student house parties, joining in with the fun and helping with the washing up. Bill Murray turns up unexpected at random venues, goes behind the bar and starts serving drinks. Or, the best due to its simplicity: Bill Murray walks into a restaurant, steals a single fry from an unassuming diner, smiles and tells them: No one will believe you.

The level of truth behind such stories varies, but it's clear that beyond the screen, Murray is likeable, unassuming and often cranky, clashing with fellow actors and directors on set. Away from his profession, he interprets and plays with fame in a form of lightness, embracing it for what it is, rather than seeing it as a heavy burden.

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But enough of the man away from the camera. In celebration of the actor's 66th birthday, let's take a look back at some of his most memorable film appearances:

1. Ghostbusters (1984)

Murray in 'Ghostbusters' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
Murray in 'Ghostbusters' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]

Murray played the lead role as Dr. Peter Venkman in the critically acclaimed classic, focusing on an unlikely group of spirit-hunters who are tasked with saving New York from the supernatural.

Starring alongside Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson, the team's chemistry and Murray's perfectly timed wit and dry delivery helped the film achieve cult status.

2. Groundhog Day (1993)

The film was so successful, the term Groundhog Day has become a common phrase, used when a situation appears to repeat itself.

The film was so successful, the term Groundhog Day has become a common phrase, used when a situation appears to repeat itself.

Harold Ramis's film put Phil Connors (Murray) at the center of a never-ending time loop, where the same day is repeated over and over. Murray's stoic yet vulnerable demeanour ensured the ambitious premise of the film was matched by the star's performance, providing an abundance of heart and life lessons we can all learn from.

3. Rushmore (1998)

'Rushmore' [Credit: Touchstone Pictures]
'Rushmore' [Credit: Touchstone Pictures]

The oddball comedy by Wes Anderson depicts industrialist Herman Blume (Murray) and his relationship with teenage revolutionary Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), when Blume helps Fischer attempt to win the heart of his new teacher.

The success of the film reinvigorated Murray's career, receiving a Golden Globe nomination for his effort.

4. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

'The Royal Tenenbaums' [Credit: Touchstone Pictures]
'The Royal Tenenbaums' [Credit: Touchstone Pictures]

Murray again joined director Anderson in his follow up to Rushmore, which proved a good decision; the film was critically acclaimed and is generally considered one of the best Hollywood dramedies.

The film carries the quirky hallmarks of Anderson and Murray, with the latter playing famous neurologist Raleigh St. Clair.

5. Lost in Translation (2003)

Murray and Johansson in 'Lost in Translation' [Credit: Focus Features]
Murray and Johansson in 'Lost in Translation' [Credit: Focus Features]

Murray's role as weary, disillusioned actor Bob Harris is arguably the best demonstration of his serious acting skill. Starring opposite Scarlett Johansson, who plays college graduate Charlotte, the pair strike a fierce chemistry as an unlikely pair whose worlds collide at the point of crisis and reflection.

The award season was also kind to Sofia Coppola's drama: The film received four Oscar nominations — including Best Actor for Murray — and won for Best Original Screenplay.

6. Zombieland (2009)

Hands down, Murray's appearance as himself is one of the best cameos in cinema, and a delightful addition to a well-made and well-received feature. Desperate to escape a zombie apocalypse, the group of survivors end up at Murray's mansion.

They then bump into Murray, who is disguised as a zombie so he can continue doing the things he loves (such as playing Golf or watching himself in Ghostbusters). On the off-chance you haven't seen it, I won't spoil the climax for the pleasure of first-time viewing.

7. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Murray (left) in 'Moonrise Kingdom' [Credit: Focus Features]
Murray (left) in 'Moonrise Kingdom' [Credit: Focus Features]

This is the third Wes Anderson and Bill Murray collaboration that makes the list, but it's a worthy entry. The ensemble flick is unconventional in nature, depicting the love-story of two 12-years-olds who hatch a plan to run away together, its originality earning an Oscar nomination for the screenplay.

8. Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Murray in 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' [Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures]
Murray in 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' [Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures]

Wait, make that four collaborations with Anderson, the most recent being a film some deem Anderson's best: The Grand Budapest Hotel. The film tells the story of the quirky murder-mystery surrounding concierge Monsieur Gustave H.

Murray added his affably dry delivery to the role of helpful fellow concierge Monsieur Ivan, becoming a crucial part of the overall, well-oiled, Oscar nominated machine.

What is your favorite Bill Murray role?


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