Something magical is always made when an avant-garde director finds his perfect muse in a genius actor. And they continue to make films that audiences find immensely endearing and entertaining.
Examples: Tim Burton almost always includes Johnny Depp in his movies in some manner. Some of the best movies of the past few decades (Wolf of Wall Street/Taxi Driver) have been made by Hollywood greats Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio (and Robert De Niro).
But slowly inching their way to the top of the list of best actor-director collaborators is another duo: Bill Murray and Wes Anderson.
Anderson, known for his quirky movies and cult-like fanbase, has collaborated with Murray on eight separate occasions now.
And Murray, who is widely regarded as one of the best actors world-wide – though not the easiest to work with – has immensely enjoyed this creative partnership.
When Wes Anderson and Bill Murray first met
Anderson first cast Murray in his second directorial venture, 1998’s Rushmore.
Anderson was a relatively unknown director at that time. But Murray found Rushmore’s script immensely intriguing. And he agreed to the film even though the role only paid $9000, which was the minimum agreed to amount by the Screen Actors Guild.
Anderson was also unable to muster up the funds to complete the shoot of the film. Upon learning this, Murray cut a check for $25,000 to Anderson. However, the latter never cashed the check but keeps it with him, as a reminder of their friendship.
But Anderson was so moved by this gesture and Murray’s acting prowess, that he almost always writes a part for him (Murray) in his films.
After the runaway success of Rushmore, Murray returned to work for Anderson in 2001’s The Royal Tenenbaums.
Murray, who is known for his eclectic taste, joined the cast because the found the script to this movie ‘just crazy enough’
Murray and Anderson remake Jack Cousteau
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While filming The Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson approached Murray with the idea of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
The result was the movie’s subsequent release in 2004 and it becoming an overnight critical and commercial success.
In the movie Murray plays the titular Steve Zissou, a Cousteau-esque character, and this has become one his most celebrated parts ever in a movie.
Murray enjoys a special part in Anderson’s heart so much so that the latter almost always includes Murray in some form in his directorial ventures.
On working with Murray, Anderson says: “Most of the time I just try to stand back and let him do what he does.”
Murray and Anderson ‘complete each other’
Since ‘The Life Aquatic…’, the two have worked together on five feature films together, with the latest being 2018’s Isle of Dogs.
On why he never says to Anderson, Murray says, “He has a very clear idea of what he wants to do. He has a very clear vision and he focuses a lot of his efforts on actual storytelling.”
On all the occasions that they have collaborated together, they have never left the audience feeling dissatisfied. We wish that they keep collaborating for time to come.