Bill Murray explains the reasoning behind his 1-800 number for Hollywood agents. Over the years, Murray's reputation has grown to near-mythical proportions and his 1-800 number has been one of he things people never knew was actually real. Usually with the actor, the most outlandish stories about him tend to be the ones that are actually true, so it should really come as no surprise he created a 1-800 number for agents to approach him about working on new projects.
Hollywood has to come find Bill Murray if they want to get ahold of him. Friends like Sofia Copeland, Wes Anderson, and Jim Jarmusch have alternative ways to track him down because he likes working with them. Murray is out promoting Jarmusch's The Dead Don't Die and many didn't even know if he was going to bother to show up until the day before because he waited to respond to some texts. When asked about his 1-800 number, Murray nonchalantly explained his reasoning. He had this to say.
"I had a house phone, and it would just ring and ring. Finally, I'd pick up the phone and I'd say, 'Who in the f*ck is calling me and letting my phone ring like that?' The agent would say, 'Oh, I'm sorry, I'm calling for so-and-so.' I'd say, 'Look, you can't do this. This is my house. If I don't answer the phone, don't do that because you're making me not like you.' Their job is, 'Get me Bill Murray on the phone.' They have nothing else to do. I just unplugged the phone and then I got this 800 number, which is very handy,"
Bill Murray doesn't work with a manager or an agent. So if someone wants to get ahold of him, they call the 1-800 number and wait for a response. Over the years, the actor admits to checking it less and less. One can imagine Murray getting a ton of calls over the years to which he just never responded to. He's too busy living his life. He explains.
"It's not like at 11 o'clock it's time to check the messages. Sometimes I go days or weeks. Sorry I'm busy living. I'm not trying to work for anyone. So now I barely maintain that facade anymore. I don't really do much of anything for this. I don't even know how anybody reaches me anymore."
Jim Jarmusch admires Bill Murray's approach to the business, which is lucky for him because he actually has the real number to get ahold of him. Some probably think Murray is being a jerk, but he is ultimately protecting himself from an industry that probably wants a lot from him. Jarmusch compared Murray to iconic musician Neil Young, who has a similar approach to the business. He explains.
"I don't know that many people of that kind of high profile who can. Bill protects what he feels is his directive in his life - what is his job and how he wants to live. So he structures it in a way where he doesn't have an entourage or a hedge of people around him. It's very direct, but he can kind of close it off. Neil's (Young) like that. He's very much like, 'Hey man, I'm getting new song ideas right now. The rest of the world can f*ck off. I don't owe you anything.'"
Bill Murray talks to who he needs to and chooses the projects he wants to work on. If he doesn't want to do them, he doesn't do it. It's as simple as that. He more than likely doesn't really need the money anymore and can pick and choose what he wants to do for fun, much like The Dead Don't Die, which hits theaters this Friday. The interview with Bill Murray and Jim Jarmusch was originally conducted by IndieWire.