Bill Murray has always kept the media and Hollywood at a distance. Besides, regularly losing roles because he doesn’t return phone calls, he also isn’t the most talkative interview. In the recent Esquire, writer Scott Raab found a trick to get him to talk: ask him about Del Close. Murray studied with Del back in Chicago and the man obviously had a huge impact on him. Murray explained:
He was incredibly gracious to your talent and always tried to further it. He got people to perform beyond their expectations. He really believed that anyone could do it if they were present and showed respect. There was a whole lot of respect… He taught lots and lots of people very effectively. He taught people to commit. Like: “Don’t walk out there with one hand in your pocket unless there’s somethin’ in there you’re going to bring out.” You gotta commit. You’ve gotta go out there and improvise and you’ve gotta be completely unafraid to die. You’ve got to be able to take a chance to die. And you have to die lots. You have to die all the time. You’re goin’ out there with just a whisper of an idea. The fear will make you clench up. That’s the fear of dying. When you start and the first few lines don’t grab and people are going like, “What’s this? I’m not laughing and I’m not interested,” then you just put your arms out like this and open way up and that allows your stuff to go out. Otherwise it’s just stuck inside you.
I met him at this Andy Garcia movie I did, The Lost City. Willis is there and he’d had a couple drinks. We’ve all had a few drinks. And he says, “I just want you to know …” I’m like, “Oh, fuck.” He says, “I used to work as a page at NBC, and my job was to refill the M&M bowls and the peanut bowls in the actors’ dressing room. And only you and Gilda ever treated me like a human being. You were nice to me.” And I thought, Whew, that’s good. I felt like, Shit, I did somethin’ right, you know?