Want a life that’s more interesting? Follow the way of Bill Murray, a man whose real life is every bit as mental as the manic roles he’s played.
Bill Murray, actor, philanthropist and legend, could teach us all a thing or two about living life to the max.
In Groundhog Day he played Phil Connors, a man who repeats the same day over and over. He learns to embrace every experience that’s thrown at him, loving life and making new friends everywhere he goes. He gatecrashes parties and helps those less fortunate. Along the way he becomes a virtuoso pianist, sculptor and poet.
And that’s exactly how the real Bill Murray rolls. His attitude to living is a veritable blueprint for anyone with a yen for adventure.
When the day seems dull and your choices are slim, there’s only ever one question you need to ask. What would Bill Murray do?
Here are six lessons we’ve learned from the former Ghostbuster, the star of Kingpin and The Royal Tenenbaums. They’ll help you live a better, more exciting life.
1. Party harder
Bill Murray has party radar like you wouldn’t believe. From Austin, Texas to St Andrews in Scotland, gobsmacked muggles have witnessed Bill Murray roll up at their homes. He drank their beer and chatted up their women. Some have lived to tell the tale.
Lykke Stavnef was 22 years old when she met Murray during a 2010 Scottish celebrity golf tournament. When she invited him to a party full of Scandinavian students later that evening, Murray accepted.
Of course he did. He’s Bill Murray.
“It was really funny because he was pretty old compared with all the other people there,” Miss Stavnef told the Telegraph.
2. Muck in
There’s a bit more to the previous anecdote. Bill turned up to the party, a party that one eyewitness described as “overflowing with stunning blondes”. He drank vodka from a mug and hung out with ordinary folk. So far, so self serving. But then he did the washing up – in a student house. Plates piled high with pasta dried hard to them. Minutes before, Murray had been musing about reheating some in the microwave…
There’s one thread that runs through all the Bill Murray stories we’ve heard: Bill isn’t frightened to roll up his sleeves. When something needs doing, he just gets on with it, whether it’s washing the dishes or joining in on DJ duties with the Wu Tang clan.
And that’s why, in a crowded club during 2010’s SXSW festival Bill Murray jumped behind the bar to take the strain off serving staff. Revellers swarmed to order drinks from the craggy actor. Bill took their orders and poured them all tequilas, because life’s too short for drinks with bits of fruit in them.
3. Go with the flow
Taoism, is a Chinese philosophy that teaches us how to live better lives. A central tenet is the “wu wei”, which translates as “action without intent”. In the West we call it “going with the flow” – and that’s Bill Murray for you in a single phrase.
A bunch of New Yorkers playing kickball (like baseball, without bats) found this out one afternoon in 2012. Bill Murray turned up at the start of their game, ready to play.
“I looked at him and asked ‘Bill Murray, what are you doing here?’” teammate Courtney Beard told CollegeHumor, “He put his hand out, shook mine and said, ‘Oh, ya know, I just wanted to kick the ball around.’”
It turned out that Murray had got talking to the game’s referee on a tram, and accepted an invite to hang out. If you want a more interesting life, there’s a lot of mileage in just letting things happen.
4. Be good to others
Every civilian who meets Bill thinks he’s an awesome guy. We’re talking about someone who makes his own Christmas cards and who “sings” Happy Birthday to his fans online. He funds a bunch of minor-league baseball teams too. They’ll never make him a cent, but they get to carry on playing thanks to his patronage.
But one of the nicest things Bill has ever done was cure a woman’s depression… In a recent Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, Murray explained how his movie Caddyshack had shown one of his fans how to laugh again.
“It was the only thing that cheered me up and made me laugh and made me think that my life wasn’t hopeless,” said Bill, quoting the lady in question, “ That feels great.”
5. Educate yourself
It’s clear that Bill Murray has fun – but he’s a deep dude too. Among the party-hard anecdotes and tales of philanthropy, another theme emerges. Bill likes to learn.
In 2006, Bill joined a group of archaeologists on Yeronisos, a small island in Cyprus. He spent a week digging out ancient artefacts, paying $10,000 for the privilege.
A publicity stunt? No way. There was barely any coverage of the trip at the time. In fact, Bill sacked his business manager back in 2000 – replacing him with a free-phone number…
It wasn’t his first foray into Higher Education either. After Ghostbusters he quit acting for four years, moving to Paris to study philosophy at the Sorbonne. But book-learning wasn’t enough for Bill.
“You can’t be a philosopher on top of a mountain,” he told Radio Times in 2013, “You need to get out in the world and put it into action.”
6. Go off map
And getting out in the world is exactly what Bill does. The late Harold Ramis, Murray’s director on Groundhog Day and co-star in Ghostbusters one went to Bali with Bill. While Harold rested up at the hotel, Murray hired a motorcycle and rode off into the jungle, getting hopelessly lost. Murray walked into a tiny village store and started to try on hats, doing impressions for the local shopkeeper.
“Word gets around this hamlet that there’s some crazy guy at the grocery, and he ended up doing a dumb show with the whole village sitting around laughing as he grabbed the women and tickled the kids,” Ramis told the the New Yorker in 2004, “No worry about getting back to a hotel, no need for language, just his presence, and his charisma, and his courage.”
This willingness to seize the moment makes Bill Murray a role-model for anyone who craves a life less ordinary. It’s his love of fun, tempered by a desire to learn. His kindness to others and a level of humility that’s rare in ordinary human beings, never mind the successful and famous.
And most of all – the courage to say yes to almost anything.
Except Ghostbusters 3.