Murray, Bill 1

‘Ghostbusters' Murray in his best role yet


From the June 15, 1984, Deseret News

NEW YORK – Bill Murray easily dominates "Ghostbusters," despite the strong screen presence of talents like Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver surrounding him. That is certainly no easy task, yet Murray makes it seem effortless.

Though he has taken disparaging reviews in the past, the national critics seem to unanimously love Murray in his latest comedy, and he's even being compared to the likes of W.C. Fields and Groucho Marx, as he lopes through this spoof of supernatural pictures, commenting on the action but remaining unmoved by it all.

Aykroyd acknowledges he purposely wrote the film as another "buddy" picture, saying simply that he loves the form, having enjoyed it in the past with the several movies he made with John Belushi, with Albert Brooks in the "Twilight Zone – The Movie" prologue, and with Eddie Murphy in "Trading Places."

The "Ghostbusters" script was originally written by Aykroyd to suit Belushi in the lead, but later was tailored by Aykroyd and Harold Ramis to fit Murray's deadpan, wisecracking talent. Everyone involved in the film, however, says much of the comic dialogue came spontaneously during shooting.

"Well, this is the best written comedy I've ever been in," Murray says of the script itself. "Some of the great lines in the movie weren't in the script, but it was a great story."


                         The four 'Ghostbusters' in action, from left: Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis

Speaking to entertainment reporters from around the country during round-robin interviews in the Plaza Hotel in New York City, Murray said he likes to work loose, and feels the "Ghostbusters" set was the most collaborative and relaxed he has worked in.

Having been a part of the Second City improvisational troupe, National Lampoon's comedy group, and, of course, the original "Saturday Night Live" "Not Ready For Primetime Players" (he came in the second year, replacing Chevy Chase), Murray has strong roots in comedy. And his huge movie successes — "Meatballs," "Stripes," "Caddyshack" and "Tootsie" — further etched his comic screen persona.

So it may surprise his fans to know that the next film they'll see him in is a straight, dramatic picture — a remake of Somerset Maugham's "The Razor's Edge."

This story of a World War I veteran's search for the meaning of life before the outbreak of World War II was originally filmed in 1946 with Tyrone Power. Murray became enamored with the story when it was sent to him by writer-director John Byrum. He collaborated with Byrum on the script and tried to interest Columbia Pictures in the project, but they weren't enthused about a Bill Murray drama.

He then became involved in "Ghostbusters," though he was reluctant to abandon "The Razor's Edge" to do it. Murray says it was Aykroyd who suggested giving Columbia "Ghostbusters," which every major studio wanted, only if the studio would also finance "The Razor's Edge" as a tandem project.

Columbia was so enthusiastic about "Ghostbusters" it gladly took on "The Razor's Edge" as well. "Edge" was actually filmed before "Ghostbusters," but is being held until October, the fall being a period when more serious films generate better audience reaction.

Of his interpretation of the role, Murray says, "We tried to make this guy more accessible, we added some humor. In the original, he was kind of pious." Noticing the looks of doubt on some of the writers' faces, Murray hastens to add, "We didn't make it a comedy but we did give the character a sense of humor."

Murray said he is very happy with the finished film, adding that his co-stars are very good in their roles. "I think it's a great story, and Catherine Hicks is very good in the film, and Theresa Russell is incredible. That lady is going to be a big, big star."


                                              Bill Murray, Theresa Russell, 'The Razor's Edge

Asked if he isn't a bit nervous about the critical reaction to his appearing in so somber a film, especially one whose earlier film version is remembered by many as a classic, Murray says, "I've had bad reviews and I've had good reviews, and I'm interested to see if they want to see a movie like this. I wanted to do something different."

He said he feels he shouldn't just do the same kind of films over and over, although he gets an awful lot of scripts that look like "Meatballs" and "Caddyshack." And he noted that some people thought he was crazy for taking a supporting role in "Tootsie" after his starring success in "Stripes."

"I wanted to play the second banana to a really fine actor. I couldn't have been happier to get that part. There wasn't much dialogue in the script, though. I made most of that stuff up."

Murray plans to take some time off now, having just finished two films in a row ("I got off the Concord from doing ‘Razor's Edge' and drove right to the set of ‘Ghostbusters.' "), and adds that he needs a breather and some time with his family.