Bill Murray is 60 years old today, which is a little bit unbelievable. The Beatles, Dylan, and The Stones can be in their 60s, and Woody Allen sometimes seems like he was ALWAYS in his 70s, but Bill Murray? 60? My parents aren’t even 60 yet, but Bill Murray is?
Maybe between movies, he gets in a spaceship that approaches the speed of light– so 60 earth years have passed, but he’s still really (let’s say) 48. He understands aging, all too well, because he’s seen it happen to the people around him at lightning speed, but he himself is only slowly, gently moving through middle age.
HiLobrow has a short but very fine appreciation, which makes me miss their daily HiLo Heroes birthday posts all the more. The erstwhile site only does occasional pieces averaging about one per week now. I’m guessing it’s because the editorial load was too large to bear.
I know the editors, but I haven’t actually asked them why; I know that from my own occasional entry-writer’s perspective, it seemed like way too much work. But golly-gosh, these are still some of my favorite things to read on the web.
Here are some of my favorite Bill Murray clips. Watching them, you see that Murray’s real genius may be in his ability to react to those around him with sanity AND lunacy; like Woody Allen at his peak, he’s George and Gracie rolled into one. He’s such a generous comedic actor, he makes even ciphers like Andie McDowell in Groundhog Day or Scarlett Johanssen in Lost In Translation look great. And because your attention’s still on him, you don’t even notice he’s doing it.
On Twitter, I compared him to baseball closer Mariano Rivera. Murray — maybe especially has he’s gotten older — is the relief pitcher who finishes every game/scene. He makes everybody look better; you’re always talking about him, but somebody else usually gets the win. The starters set the table, and he just kills you a half-dozen different ways. Fastball = punchline, change-up = muted expression, curveball = unexpected character transformation, and a devastating fluttery cut fastball that’s a mixture of all three.