In spite of over four decades of a career astounding in the consistency of its success, Murray still exudes middle-class, Midwestern charm. A middle child of nine children in a Chicagoan home, Murray’s “improv skills were honed round the dining table. Younger brother Joel has said that the aim was to make their father – a slow eater – laugh with his mouth full.”
Not one to let an annoying detail like being famous get in the way of a good joke, Murray has achieved underground fame by doing such things as photobombing engagement shoots and hanging out with strangers at karaoke bars. There is a website devoted to people posting tales of their Bill Murray run-ins called Bill Murray Stories with the tagline No One Will Ever Believe You, Murray’s trademark parting joke on such occasions.
It is likely that only fellow Catholics will understand the subtleties of the practice of the Faith that Murray discusses. His intimacy and affection for the details of the Faith are noticeable in The Guardian interview:
His parents were Irish Catholics; one of his sisters is a nun. This conspicuous religion adds to his broad church appeal (there’s a citation from the Christian Science Monitor on his golfing memoirs). You don’t need to ask if his faith is important to him. He talks about how 19th-century candidates risk not getting canonized because the church is keen to push ahead with the likes of John Paul II and Mother Teresa. “I think they’re just trying to get current and hot,” he smiles. One new saint he does approve of is Pope John XXIII (who died in 1963). “I’ll buy that one, he’s my guy; an extraordinary joyous Florentine who changed the order. I’m not sure all those changes were right. I tend to disagree with what they call the new mass. I think we lost something by losing the Latin. Now if you go to a Catholic mass even just in Harlem it can be in Spanish, it can be in Ethiopian, it can be in any number of languages. The shape of it, the pictures, are the same but the words aren’t the same.”
Isn’t it good for people to understand it? “I guess,” he says, shaking his head. “But there’s a vibration to those words. If you’ve been in the business long enough you know what they mean anyway. And I really miss the music – the power of it, y’know? Yikes! Sacred music has an affect on your brain.” Instead, he says, we get “folk songs … top 40 stuff … oh, brother…”
If you have the good fortune to experience a Bill Murray run-in, you might have an in-depth conversation about theology and faith. Or he’ll let you film him in a slo-mo run.