Five Essential… Bill Murray Roles

Jackson Ball presents his five essential Bill Murray roles…

There are few comedy acts in Hollywood as beloved and respected as Bill Murray. Over a career spanning nearly 40 years, he has been consistently delivering his dry wit and expert timing to cinema-goers everywhere. Where many of his counterparts have occasionally lowered themselves with cheap laughs and half-hearted performances, Murray rarely gives anything less than his A-game.

Here are our top 5 picks from Bill Murray’s sparkling catalogue…


5. Carl Spackler – Caddyshack (dir. Harold Ramis – 1980)

Fresh off of his Saturday Night Live success, Murray plays an integral part to this comedy classic. As the unhinged groundsman, locked in perpetual combat with a mischievous gopher, Murray is allowed to let loose his sillier side, rather than his usual brand of dry sarcasm.

“In the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, ‘Au revoir, gopher’.”

Rushmore4. Herman Blume – Rushmore (dir. Wes Anderson, 1998)

The finest of several wonderful collaborations with Wes Anderson, Herman Blume has to be one of Murray’s most understated roles. It’s a precise and measured comedic performance, as the character is largely there to support Jason Schwartzman’s lead. Murray reins it, setting up his young co-star brilliantly while still delivering a killer one-liner every now and then.

“Never in my wildest imagination did I ever dream I would have sons like these.”

Lost in Translation3. Bob Harris – Lost in Translation (dir. Sofia Coppola, 2003)

In the role that earned him an Academy Award nomination, Murray proves once and for all that behind the laughs he is an exceptional actor. As the lonely and disgruntled Bob Harris, Murray remains the most effortlessly cool element of this effortlessly cool film. Between his wit, killer karaoke skills and emotional range, the nomination was clearly well deserved.

“For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.”

Ghostbusters2. Dr. Peter Venkman – Ghostbusters (dir. Ivan Reitman, 1984)

Can you imagine Ghostbusters with anyone else playing Venkman? No, me neither. In one of the most iconic performances of the 1980’s, Murray shines in a role that was catered specifically for his unique brand of humour. Sarcastic, witty, flirtatious and ever-unflappable, Peter Venkman remains one of the coolest scientists in motion picture history.

“We’ve been going about this all wrong. This is Mr. Stay Puft’s okay! He’s a sailor, he’s in New York; we get this guy laid, we won’t have any trouble.”

Groundhog Day1. Phil Connors – Groundhog Day (dir. Harold Ramis, 1993)

Bill Murray’s definitive role: discontented meteorologist Phil Connors. Teaming with Harold Ramis once again, this time Murray is the star and, more importantly, the driving force behind the film. It’s got all the classic Murray sense of humour that we all know and love, all neatly wrapped up in warm, fuzzy, high-concept goodness. As timeless as it is innovative, Groundhog Day still stands out amongst the elite of family comedies, as well as being Bill Murray’s finest hours.

“You want a prediction about the weather; you’re asking the wrong Phil. I’ll give you a winter prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.”

Agree? Disagree? As always we’d love to hear your comments…

Jackson Ball – follow me on Twitter.


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