Bill Murray's Career Wisdom Is Pointed And Sincere

Getty ImagesBill Murray at a photo call for the upcoming film 'The Monuments Men' in Beverly Hills, California.

It's no secret that Bill Murray is a fan of his fans. He crashes kickball games, reads poetry to construction workers and bartends when he should be hanging out with the Wu-Tang Clan. New York City, where Murray lives, is obsessed with catching a glimpse of the unconventional star. Now he's giving back yet again, this time with valuable work advice.

Murray made his name at Saturday Night Live in the 1970s before starring in big hits like Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day. He's led such a fulfilling career that he could have quit a decade ago and we would have grudgingly forgiven him for it. What has he learned from his on-screen success? Murray has amassed some valuable career wisdom from his Hollywood dealings, some of which he unloaded at an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit last Friday.

On branding

Well I don't know if brands should be more like Bill Murray, but there's no question they should suck less. I think if you just hold that thought in front of yourself, like a marching brand trumpet player has the music mounted on his trumpet, about how to make ads suck less, then that will inform your daily life... Ads aren't bad in themselves. It's just the attitude. We all have to go to the store, we all have to have groceries, but there's a way to sell you things to make the exchange more of a human one.

Murray refers specifically to company brands here, but his final point is just as salient for living, breathing self-branders: be human. Career experts like Dan Pink, author of To Sell Is Human, recommend this approach because it facilitates a more natural connection with consumers and buyers.

On negotiating

Well, I did a film with Jim Jarmusch called Broken Flowers, but I really enjoyed that movie. I enjoyed the script that he wrote. He asked me if I could do a movie, and I said "I gotta stay home, but if you make a movie that I could shoot within one hour of my house, I'll do it."

So he found those locations. And I did the movie.

If you're a workaholic and you do great work, there's no shame in recognizing when you need a break. In this instance, Murray gave the director an option instead of turning down the assignment entirely. It worked out for both of them in the end.

On loving what you do

I really love the way Wes [Anderson] writes with his collaborators, I like the way he shoots, and I like HIM. I've become so fond of him. I love the way that he has made his art his life. And you know, it's a lesson to all of us, to take what you love and make it the way you live your life, and that way you bring love into the world.

Wes Anderson is a favorite in indie movie circles for his offbeat, charmingly candid films like The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom. He is an example of someone who turned his passion into a niche product with a loyal following.

On understanding a job before accepting it

I had a hilarious experience with Garfield. I only read a few pages of it, and I kind of wanted to do a cartoon movie, because I had looked at the screenplay and it said "Joel Cohen" on it. And I wasn't thinking clearly, but it was spelled Cohen, not Coen. I love the Coen brothers movies. I think that Joel Coen is a wonderful comedic mind. So I didn't really bother to finish the script, I thought 'he's great, I'll do it.'


It was really hard to write my way out of that one. And there were all these people on the other side of the recording studio, and at the end of the reel I was SOAKED In perspiration. I had drunk as much coffee as any columbian ever drank, and I said "you better just show me the rest of the movie." And they showed me the rest of the movie, and there was just this long, 2 minute silence.

And I probably cursed a little, and I said "I can fix this, but I can't fix this today. Or this week. Who wrote this stuff?"

Murray's experience is a testament to the power of diligent research. Don't accept a role before you know what you're getting yourself into.

You'll can read the rest of Murray's answers in all their whimsical glory on Reddit.
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