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10 Lesser-Known Bill Murray Roles You Might’ve Missed

Catch Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II this month on IFC.

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Rattling off titles from Bill Murray’s career is like reciting a compilation of the most rewatchable movies of all time. Caddyshack. Groundhog Day. Rushmore. Ghostbusters — which was just inducted into the National Film Registry and is airing on IFC this month along with Ghostbusters II. But for every Stripes or Lost in Translation, there are several other Bill Murray projects that have barely seen the light of day.

So, in tribute to the work of the universally beloved 65-year-old (and the Ghostbusters movies airing on IFC this month), here are 10 performances by Bill Murray you might’ve missed.

1. Nothing Lasts Forever, Ted Breughl

Equal parts Terry Gilliam, Georges Méliès, and David Lynch, director Tom Schiller’s feature-length debut (which sadly never received a major release) is a wonderful experiment in the absurd. The surreal story flows like a Kafkaesque fever dream, where the NY Port Authority runs Manhattan and trips to the moon are done by bus. Although Bill Murray plays the bus conductor in a small supporting role, his involvement helped propel the film’s cult status.


2. The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash, Bill Murray the K.

Six years before This Is Spinal Tap, Eric Idle and Gary Weis all but established the band mockumentary with the Beatles spoof, The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash. The film skewers the Fab Four’s career with the faux lookalike band (nicknamed the Prefab Four) and features a slew of cameos including Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, and a chunk of SNL players — including Mr. Murray as loudmouth disc jockey “Bill Murray the K.” who’s super excited to hear the band “talk about their trousers.”


3. The Sweet Spot, Himself

One of Comedy Central’s odder projects, The Sweet Spot could be described as the golf version of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s culinary travelogue The Trip. Proving they love each other’s company, Murray brothers Bill, Brian, Joel, and John visit various golf courses, play a few holes, and involve themselves in the occasional shenanigan. Lasting only four episodes in 2002, the series was the perfect length to demonstrate what it’d be like to see Scrooged’s Frank Cross tease his brother in real life, too.


4. Where the Buffalo Roam, Hunter S. Thompson

Before walking scarf Johnny Depp portrayed Hunter S. Thompson, none other than Bill Murray played the gonzo journalist in the 1980 semi-autobiographical misfire Where the Buffalo Roam. Critically panned as a series of jumbled episodes rather than a cohesive film, the movie never quite found its footing as a watchable biopic. In fact, the behind-the-scenes anecdote of Murray nearly drowning when Thompson drunkenly tied him to a chair and tossed him into a swimming pool gives you a far better idea of who the man was.


5. Mad Dog and Glory, Frank Milo

There was a time when Bill Murray playing a dramatic role for the guy who directed Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer was considered daring. Of course now, after his many dramatic and offbeat roles, Murray’s career is more malleable to disparate projects, allowing his depiction of a mob boss character in Mad Dog and Glory to go from “surprisingly against type” to “reliably versatile.” But however you describe it, it’s one of his most underrated performances.


6. Coming Attractions, Lefty Schwartz

An anthology movie with three different release titles (it’s also known as Loose Shoes and Quackers), this film is a compilation of fake trailers/movies much in the style of Kentucky Fried Movie and Amazon Women on the Moon. The segment “Three Chairs for Lefty” features Murray as a death row inmate trying his damndest to avoid the chair. With pitch-black absurdist humor — including a prison banquet gag that later appeared in The Naked Gun 33⅓ — this six-minute sketch deserves many more eyes on it.


7. Hamlet, Polonius

In the spirit of Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 teen-throb-y Romeo + Juliet, Michael Almereyda’s Hamlet takes the frilly verbiage of William Shakespeare and inserts it into a modern-day setting — in this case, upper-class Manhattan. While the results depend on your level of patience for the style, Murray’s role as Polonius is rather interesting. As you can see in the above clip, his performance straddles the line between 16th Century England and 20th Century Chicago. By design or by accident, it’s worth a watch.


8. The TVTV Show, Performer

Before superstardom was in sight, Bill Murray was a part of a San Francisco-based video collective known as TVTV, or Top Value Television, which jump-started the careers of many big talents including Harold Ramis and Michael Shamberg. Along with fellow member and pal Christopher Guest, Murray participated in a segment during the 1976 Super Bowl. While it doesn’t have the entertainment value of the group’s other projects, it’s interesting to note the kernels of guerrilla filmmaking close to its inception.


9. Coffee and Cigarettes, Himself

The most popular segment in Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 anthology film Coffee and Cigarettes — mostly due to the unlikely combo of talent — Bill Murray works as a coffee shop server who sits and chats with Wu-Tang Clan founders GZA and RZA about dreams, nicotine, and the best way to get rid of a smoker’s cough. The chemistry between the trio is so fun and infectious, it’s hard not to wish Jarmusch’s entire film were just these dudes talking.


10. Quick Change, Grimm

The sole directorial credit in Murray’s storied career (he codirected with Howard Franklin), Quick Change debuted in 1990 as a critically successful underperformer. Centered around three bank robbers desperately trying to leave the inescapable purgatory that is the Big Apple, the movie has since reached cult status as a screwball Dog Day Afternoon with entertaining performances by Geena Davis, Randy Quaid, Jason Robards, and Murray as the sardonic bank-robbing, gun-toting clown.

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Very NSFW

The Brockmire Premiere Is All Truth

Watch The First Episode of Brockmire Right Now for Free

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GIFS via Giphy

At long last, the Brockmire pre-premiere has arrived. Which means you can watch it right now—on IFC.com, at Funny Or Die, on IFC’s Apple TV and mobile apps, on Youtube, on Facebook, on the AMC apps, and right here. So grab some headphones and get watching.

No seriously, get headphones.

Because whether he’s giving a play-by-play or ruminating on the world around him, Jim Brockmire calls it like he sees it. And how he sees it is very NSFW. His take on life is actually quite refreshing, even to the point of being profoundly sage. For proof just look at these pearls of unconventional wisdom from the premiere…

Brockmire On The Internet

“If I need porn I just buy a nudie mag, like my father and his father before him.”

Brockmire On Sex-Ed

“Kids, a strap-on is a belt with d— on it that mommies use to f— daddies.”
Brockmire-Strap-On

Brockmire On The Perfect High

“Somewhere between 10 cups of coffee and very low-grade cocaine.”
Brockmire-Perfect-High

Brockmire On The Tardiness of Spring

“Old man winter’s reaching his hand inside your coat to give that thing one more squeeze.”

Brockmire On Keeping Perspective

“I thought I hit rock bottom in a handicap restroom in Bangkok where a Thai lady-boy snorted crank off my johnson while a sunburnt German watched us on the toilet”
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Brockmire On Humanity

“If you want to look directly into the gaping maw of oblivion, don’t look up to the heavens. Just look in the mirror.”
Jules-never-seen

See these nuggets and more in the first episode of Brockmire, and see the whole season beginning April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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