How “Get Low” Got Bill Murray

There is a trade-off in landing Bill Murray for your project. No matter how worthy a project or great the part, it's not easy to get him. The filmmakers behind "Get Low" found this out -- even if they were successful in the end.

He doesn't have an agent or a manager, just a lawyer and a P.O. box. The "Get Low" Bill Murray recruiting story told by director Aaron Schneider at the press day was so hilarious, we thought we'd share it with you in relatively uninterrupted form. It shows the briefest of insights into one of the world's great free spirits. As the movie opens today, we can all laugh about it. But the filmmakers weren't always laughing then.

Here's Schneider:

Bill's on everybody's list. The idea of trying to wrangle the most elusive actor in Hollywood to our cast in two months was a bit out of our depths. But (producer Dean Zanuck) decided to call up Bill's attorney and give it a whirl. We sent a synopsis and he said he would forward it to Bill. But we would likely not hear back. He wasn't trying to be discouraging. He has spent years with Bill, as his attorney, and he wanted to be realistic.

Dean called me one day and said, "I got a voice mail. You have to hear this." It was Billy Murray saying, "Yeah, this is Bill. I'm interested in this role. If you haven't done anything with it, I'd like to read the script." And he gave us a P.O. number. We jumped up and down and sent the script to this P.O. Box.

And then we thought, now what? It's not like we can call the agent to see what he thought. We had to wait to hear from him which was the most maddening thing. The one nice thing about agents and managers is that you can touch base. But not Bill.

A couple of weeks later Bill called Dean and he actually talked to Dean's assistant first. He was trying to find out if her boss was a good guy. The assistant finally passed the phone to Dean. And after they talked he said, give me your director, I'll call him. And then another day goes by. I'm sleeping with the phone by my head. I'm answering every call. It's the rug people. I had no idea so many people called me before 9 o'clock.

Murray finally called.

It was nerve-wracking. We had a good conversation and he said this was all very interesting. And he hung up and he disappeared again.

We were getting to the point that the movie investors were so excited that if he were to fall out it could kill the buzz. And we were getting to the point where we were going to have to start talking about other actors. So I wrote this letter. Sent it off to the post office box. And Bill got it.

Murray finally signed on the bottom line. And the rest is movie history!

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