Bill Murray has had an incredible career, one that has seen him balancing comedy and drama with deft ease. He’s primarily known for making audiences laugh in classic mainstream films like CADDYSHACK, KINGPIN and his Wes Anderson collaborations.
For every ribald comedy, however, Murray has also flexed his dramatic muscles by showing audiences a different side of his talents. He first surprised audiences in 1984’s THE RAZOR’S EDGE and continued to impress critics with turns in MAD DOG AND GLORY, HAMLET, LOST IN TRANSLATION, and HYDE PARK ON THE HUDSON, where he played President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Basically, when it comes to Murray, we’ve grown to expect the unexpected, which is why it’s perfectly normal that he’s about to play a sheriff dealing with a zombie infestation in Jim Jarmusch’s THE DEAD DON’T DIE. The horror premise will be played for dry laughs, with Murray and his co-star Adam Driver taking a very realistic approach to the rise of the undead, finding the humor in an absurd situation.
When you look over Bill Murray’s filmography, though, you can see examples of where he often likes to mine humor from supernatural situations — far more than any other comedic counterpart (aside from maybe his fellow Ghostbuster, Dan Aykroyd). Here are three of our favorite examples.
Ruben Fleischer spoofed the zombie genre back in 2009, casting Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone as apocalypse survivors fighting to stay away from hungry undead zombies. The film had a wallop of a surprise, though, when the characters hid out in Bill Murray’s mansion and ran into Murray playing a version of himself in a funny cameo.
One of the best-loved comedies of all time, it’s still worth pointing out that the concept pits some very funny gentlemen against ghosts. And Slimer. And whatever Gozer is. A god, perhaps? GHOSTBUSTERS launched a franchise that melded comedy and scares, dialing into our need to uncomfortably chuckle to break the tension of horror. And the concept only worked because Murray, Aykroyd and the cast believed in it and helped sell it to the audience.
Not ghosts, but something supernatural was definitely playing around with Phil (Murray), the beleaguered weatherman who is forced to relive the same day, over and over, without having the ability to die. Again, Murray finds what’s ultimately funny about an inherently scary situation, allowing us to laugh at another person’s pain.
Will the undead attack in THE DEAD DON’T DIE be as funny as the movies listed above? Find out when the movie opens in AMC theatres on June 14. And look for Murray to reprise his role of Bill Murray in the anticipated sequel ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP in October.