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How do you become one of the most celebrated actors of your generation? Turn down the dud offers. But just for a blog post, imagine how the world might be different if Bill Murray had decided to take these roles. 

 

Roles Murray Did Not Take (Thankfully!)

Dave Seville (The Chipmunks)
Larry Flynt (The People vs. Larry Flynt)
Scott Calvin/Santa Claus (The Santa Clause)
Shrek
Buzz Lightyear

 

Roles Murray Did Not Take (Woefully or WHOA-fully!)

Jack Horner (Boogie Nights)
Forrest Gump
Indiana Jones
Raymond Babbitt (Rain Man)
Willy Wonka
Han Solo

 

Roles Murray Could Have Played

Despite his all-encompassing amazingness, Bill Murray has been passed over or turned down for some iconic roles. Here are some parts you may be surprised to learn were almost his.  

Ted Stryker, Airplane!

Murray passed on the role—and so did David Letterman—but can you imagine how this movie would have been different if he’d played the hero of this goofball comedy?

 

Willie T. Stokes, Bad Santa

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Billy Bob Thornton in this role—although in addition to Murray, producers were also considering Jack Nicholson—but we imagine Murray would have brought some heart to it. It’d be sort of a take on his character from Scrooged, maybe.

 

Cardinal Glick, Dogma

George Carlin was great in this role, but Murray could have put a Nick the Lounge Singer spin on it.

 

Ford Prefect, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This production was shelved in favor of Ghostbusters, but we love the idea of Murray walking into Douglas Adams’ universe.

 

Peter McAllister, Home Alone

We need Murray and Catherine O’Hara to do another movie together. Let's forget Speaking of Sex ever happened.

 

Frank Ginsberg, Little Miss Sunshine

Apparently an argument between the screenwriter (who wanted Murray) and the studio (who wanted Robin Williams) resulted in the compromise of casting Steve Carrell. Carrell was great, but we keep imagining an alternate universe where either other actor played the role. Murray apparently regretted not getting it.

 

Future Scientist, Nineteen Eighty-Five

This movie never got made, but a parody of 1984 starring Murray and Dan Aykroyd written by a bunch of SNL writers? Why did this never get made?

 

Joe Miller, Philadelphia

Not to take anything away from Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, but all we're saying is that there’s an alternate universe out there in which Daniel Day-Lewis and Bill Murray play a man fired for having AIDS and his homophobic lawyer (respectively) and we would like to see that movie.

 

Eddie Valiant, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

We loved Bob Hoskins in this role, but Murray could have done something really interesting with it. It’s one of the roles Murray says he regrets not taking.

 

Roles Murray Should Play

Let’s face it—every movie is improved when Bill Murray’s in the spotlight. Here’s a wish list of roles we're hoping Murray will take in the near future.

Oliver Sacks

Murray was almost offered a part in Penny Marshall’s film Awakenings, in which Robin Williams played a fictionalized version of the neurologist. Murray did play a fictional version of Sacks in The Royal Tenenbaums. Given the real Sacks’ recent passing, perhaps the time is right for a biopic starring Murray.

 

Mark Twain

Apparently Mark Twain is Murray’s favorite author. And if you put a big mustache on Murray, we will see it.

 

A Baseball Manager

According to the book, Murray is a passionate baseball fan, so how great would he be as a baseball manager type? He could either play a historical manager, maybe Branch Rickey or Casey Stengel, or a modern manager of a beleaguered team, such as his beloved Chicago Cubs. Alternately, he was known to pal around with Harry Caray in the Cubs announcer booth, so he and Will Ferrell can fight for that role, maybe.

 

A Golf Legend

One of Murray’s other passions is golf. So if someone were to make an Arnold Palmer biopic, we have a suggestion for who to call first.

 

Batman

Among the actors offered the title role of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman were Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Pierce Brosnan, and Bill Murray. If someone were to film, say, a movie version of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Murray would be pretty dang awesome as old, grumpy Batman, don’t you think?

 

Aging Rock Star

It looks like he’ll get close in this fall’s Rock the Kasbah, but there he plays a manager, not a rock star. We'd love to see him play a forgotten rock star from the ‘70s who decides to stage a late-in-life comeback with disastrous (funny) results.

 

You can write that check directly to us, Hollywood. For more Bill Murray goodness, check out The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray, out now! 


Kate McMurray's picture

Kate McMurray

Kate McMurray is an award-winning romance writer and an unabashed book fan. When she’s not reading or writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, plays violin, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with two bossy cats. Find her at http://www.katemcmurray.com