It's been said before, and it will be said again: Whether he's doing comedy or drama, Bill MurrayBill Murray is some kind of twisted genius. You never really know how true that is, though, until you can see it up close.
Murray recently sat down with MTV News for an exceedingly rare interview to talk about his new film "City of Ember,""City of Ember," where he plays the duplicitous mayor of a town about to lose its power. Read below to find out what he has to say about "Ember," "Ghostbusters III," how he almost became Batman, what he actually said to Scarlett JohanssonScarlett Johansson at the end of "Lost in Translation""Lost in Translation" and more.
MTV: This is not a figment of my imagination, right? I am actually talking to Bill Murray, correct?
Bill Murray: Yeah, yeah.
MTV: Can you assure me of that?
[Murray kicks our reporter.]
MTV: That was a Bill Murray kick. That kind of hurt!
Murray: It's a good hurt.
MTV: So you've played a mob boss, you've played a Ghostbuster — I think this is your first politician though, correct? Did it give you a taste for politics after playing this guy?
Murray: I've just been getting a taste for politics lately, 'cause it's all around us. We're swimming in the soup right now. [But] playing a politician — they're kind of easy. They're kind of clichés, you know? They say one thing and mean another. They talk out of both sides of their mouth — everything you could say horrible about them. And yet they're always challenged by this ideal that, "Oh, what if I really were good?"
MTV: Do you have a horse in this race?
Murray: I'm interested in the race. It's like going to see a basketball game where it's not your home team, either one, you just really want to see a great game. I really would love to see a great race, and I don't think they are giving us the great race I thought they might. If you'd have said ObamaObama and McCainMcCain, who in the Bush years was probably the one light I could see in that world, I thought they'd give us a pretty good fight. Maybe they'll come up with something now.
MTV: There's a mystique about getting you to sign onto a film, that you don't have the representation. There aren't the usual channels to get you. There's been talk that there's a phone number that if I'm really nice to you, you will give me, and maybe you'll call me back, maybe not. True?
Murray: Something like that, yeah. When I had representation, they would just call. They have secretaries who would call you. If you're in your home and the phone rings, the phone rings three, four, seven times — I can't get that now. I'm either cooking something or I'm doing this or I'm doing that. I'm not gonna answer the phone right now. Well, I don't have an answering machine, so the phone would just ring. It would ring 100 times.
MTV: That's a lot of patience on the other end!
Murray: Well, it's a secretary who was told, "Get me so-and-so." And so the phone rings, and they don't want to hang up and say, "I didn't get him." They're on the clock! It's hourly. Phone's ringing. They're doing a crossword. It really infuriated me that someone would do that. Would you ever think that maybe someone wasn't answering the phone? So that's when I started with this.
MTV: I want to run through a couple things in the course of my research I found out about you. Apparently, your trademark is a deadpan expression —
Murray: [Murray tries to deadpan and cracks up laughing.] I couldn't even do it. It's too early.
MTV: "Oklahoma" is your favorite musical?
Murray: Yeah, I think "Oklahoma" is my favorite musical. I can't think of anything that's better. Great songs.
MTV: You travel without an entourage?
Murray: No, I don't have any entourage. I'm a martial artist. I don't need anything.
MTV: Is that a threat?
Murray: No, no. We never attack. Only [when backed into] a corner.
MTV: You were once considered to play Batman?
Murray: So I hear. I would have been a fine Batman. You know, there have been a number of Batmen. I like them. ... I thought Mike KeatonMike Keaton did a great job as Batman. It's obviously — it's a great role.
MTV: As any Bill Murray fan worth their salt, I'm a big "Ghostbusters" fan. So the guys from "The Office," I guess, are writing a new one. Have you talked to them directly about this?
Murray: I don't even know who these guys are, but I know there's two guys from "The Office" that are writing a "Ghostbusters" script.
MTV: You don't know what their take is or anything like that?
Murray: No, I have no idea. But it's great, and I hope they go back to the original version. The first "Ghostbusters" was such a funny movie, and the first 45 minutes of it or so — there's only maybe one or two special effects. It's just these guys being funny, and the characters were really funny, and the situations were funny. I mean, Danny had a really fantastic idea, and, you know, he and Harold [Raimis], they wrote some funny scenes. They left room for improvisation, and we made a funny movie.
MTV: Do you like the idea of potentially passing on to a new crop of Ghostbusters?
Murray: Well, I think it'd be funny to have a girl Ghostbuster. We don't have a girl Ghostbuster. I mean, they say like, "What if you passed it to Chris Rock?" And I go "Well, I dunno. Is Chris Rock gonna save us?" You know, I guess. He's funny.
MTV: You want Dana Barrett to have a proton pack — is that what you're saying?
Murray: No, I just think there's some funny girls I'd love to see be Ghostbusters.
MTV: Finally, just between us, can you tell me what you whispered to Scarlett in "Lost in Translation."
Murray: I said, "I want my MTV."
Check out everything we've got on "City of Ember."
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