Bill Murray is famous for his deadpan acting and impenetrable cool. With a phenomenal level of consistent greatness, Murray is one of the most enduring comedic actors in movie history.
Murray received an Oscar nomination for his role in “Lost in Translation.” His screen credits also include the “Ghostbusters” movies, “Caddyshack”, “Stripes” and “Groundhog Day.” During a recent red carpet celebration a posse of media hounds assembled to meet Murray on the red carpet. In anticipation, the limo doors open with a flourish, and an unknown couple steps out, surprised at the fuss. In the background, a scooter sputters into view struggling like a broken down lawnmower, as Murray’s figure emerges from the saddle. He checks the location, flicks down the kickstand and with a deadpan look on his face – parks. “I always like to have my life in my own hands,” Murray says.
Murray, alone among the stars in Hollywood, has no entourage – no agent, business manager, lawyer or publicist. Yet, Murray is still undeniably the coolest actor to grace the big screen. I have always admired and enjoyed his sharp and savage wit, so I have come up with four things that we can all learn from Bill Murray that will make us all better individuals.
Lesson 1 – Learn to laugh at yourself
During an interview after filming Rushmore, Murray explained that a large part of his success was his ability to laugh at himself – “It takes certain amount of integrity when you can destroy what you do— when you’re able to laugh at yourself. Even in life, people who can laugh at themselves are the only ones I can really bear. Laughter keeps you from taking yourself too seriously.” If you can live with and laugh at your own flaws, you’ll reduce the stress of not always meeting your own expectations. You will have the priceless ability to put things in their proper perspective.
Lesson 2 – Take your work seriously – your critics lightly
“I think all phases of one’s career are serious, and should be taken seriously no matter if you are doing something high profile or not”, commented Bill Murray when asked about his recent string of 15 second cameos. “I’ve taken all the work I have ever done seriously but you definitely can’t take the response and reaction to it too seriously. You really can’t get all bent out of shape if the end result doesn’t pleasse. Not everyone is going to like your work and really who cares – I know I don’t.”
Lesson 3 – Life isn’t about waiting for something to happen in order to be happy
Much like the salutary lesson that was passed to us from the movie Groundhog Day, we tend to live our life detached from what is happening in the present. We are always hoping for that next big promotion or the potential of hitting the jackpot. Should we all be that fortunate to go back and relive each day until we got it right? If we did, we would soon realize that life isn’t about waiting for something to happen in order to be happy, but making something happen in order to be happy.
Lesson 4 – Try and do absolutely nothing whenever you can
When Murray’s not filming, he says that, “I try and do absolutely nothing. I go home and stay there. I wash and scrub up each day, and that’s it. One month I actually grew a moustache, just so I could say that I’d done something. I am years behind on reading or seeing movies. I find myself watching sports on television or riding a stationary bicycle. Once I break into a sweat, I get off it. It’s great, everyone should try doing nothing.”
So, there you have it – my pseudo tribute to an actor who’s witty and sarcastic comments have transcended comedy for the past 3 decades.