The Toronto Film Festival proclaimed Friday Bill Murray Day, with a tribute to the star and free public screenings of “Ghostbusters” and “Groundhog Day.” And he lived up to his reputation at a packed Q&A with fans by giving a glimpse into the quirky mind of Murray.
The star, wearing red pants, a plaid shirt and furry winter hat, even though the temperature was 90 degrees, arrived on stage at the Bell Lightbox theater and revealed that “Ghostbusters” was originally written by Dan Aykroyd for John Belushi.
“[Dan] wrote the original treatment for him and Belushi,” Murray recalled, adding, “But John passed away. [Dan] had to look for someone, and I was in the neighborhood,” he joked. “The only thing is, we miss John.”
Murray said that when he saw Ivan Reitman’s early cut of “Ghostbusters,” he knew it was a hit. “I knew I was going to be rich and famous, and be able to wear red pants and not give a damn.”
He recalled that the night before the festival, he got into a taxi in Oakland and ended up driving the cab driver around. “When I’m conscious, it is a conscious decision,” Murray said of his off-screen antics before going on to describe how the driver mentioned he was a saxophone player.
“I said,’When do you practice?’ He said,’I drive 14 hours a day.’ ” Murray then asked him, “Well, where’s your sax?” The driver replied, “In the trunk.” Murray told the cabbie, “Pull over and get in the back, I know how to drive a car.’ “
“Not only did he play all the way to Sausalito, which is a long way, we stopped and got barbecue. He [wound up] playing in what some would call a sketchy, weird place in Oakland at 2:15 in the morning. I was like,’Relax, man, you’ve got the [bleeping] horn! We’re cool!’ And it was great and it made for a beautiful night!”
Murray – who also premiered his latest film “St. Vincent” at the fest – is so elusive, that when Toronto wanted to create Bill Murray Day, organizers had a tough time pinning him down. The fest finally found him after a Hollywood blog posted, “Paging Mr. Murray, Toronto Wants to Honor You. . . But Cannot Find You.”