There are so many marvelous Bill Murray characters hiding in both well known movies and little known gems. I love this man so much and I don't think anything will ever change my mind. From light to dark comedy and dark to light drama, he can do everything. If you only know him as a wild and crazy guy, you have to take a look at some of these incredible Bill Murray characters. While you'll see some of his most popular characters, there are quite a few with whom you may not be familiar – yet.
1. Ken Bowden: Wild Things
I actually really like Wild Things. Kevin Bacon creeps me out, but I love Matt Dillon's performance. I love Bill Murray's too. Ken Bowden is just a wonderful, clever, sleazy, sweet guy – and I don't know who combines those traits better than Bill Murray. The ambulance chaser is a highlight, stealing every scene he's in, and the fact that he's part of a huge twist is even better! I think Ken's one of the most underrated Bill Murray characters – what about you?
2. Dr. Peter Venkman: Ghostbusters
I'm a Ghostbusters girl from way back. I distinctly remember dancing in a talent show to the Bobby Brown hit from Ghostbusters II – complete with costume, no less. I watched the cartoon when I was little but I was a sucker for the movies. Dr. Venkman has always been my favorite, and yes, the film version is ten times better. He's just so sarcastic and somehow suave, even though you know you shouldn't really be falling for his line.
3. Carl Spackler: Caddyshack
I couldn't make a list of Bill Murray's most awesome characters without mentioning Carl. This is one of Bill's most iconic roles, in an equally iconic movie. People still throw Caddyshack parties, and everyone with a good sense of humor clamors to come as Carl Spackler, doing their best to make that face.
4. Bob Wiley: What about Bob?
I love this movie in general, and I love seeing Bill Murray play against Richard Dreyfuss, a perfect straight man and a wonderful actor. Bob is so neurotic, so annoying, you're never sure whether you can really sympathize with him or not. But part of you still does, because Bill Murray has a gift for making you love even the most obnoxious loser.
5. Raleigh St. Clair: the Royal Tenenbaums
If you're familiar with me at all, you probably know how very much I love The Royal Tenenbaums. For me, Bill Murray's characters are the highlight of every Wes Anderson movie in which he's starred – even in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. However, Raleigh is my favorite. He's the first real taste I got of Bill Murray's drier, subtler performances – and I loved it. He's so monotone and oblivious, but he's still such a sweet man.
6. Bob Harris: Lost in Translation
Bob Harris made this movie. Again, you get to see a different side of Bill Murray than you usually expect. I think the power of his performance was due partly to his ability to see aspects of himself in the role. Bob seems so resigned at first, as if he's just dealing with getting older and feeling obsolete, as if there's nothing he can do about it.
7. Don Johnston: Broken Flowers
For much the same reason, I loved him as Don Johnston. There's something sleazy about this guy too, but that might just be his track suits, I don't know. Whatever the case, even though this sort of story has been done to death in different ways, Bill gave the plot something new, something fresh – even while looking so defeated.
8. Ernie McCracken: Kingpin
Ah, man and his ego. No one does ego like Bill Murray and no one exemplifies it quite as much as that awful Ernie McCracken. I actually never sympathized with Ernie, not even when his sad, wispy hair blew all over the place, but that's all right. I still love hating him and I get surprised by his vile behavior and complete lack of ethics every time I watch Kingpin.
9. Herman Blume: Rushmore
All right, so I lied. As much as I love Raleigh St. Clair, I also love Herman Blume. Maybe it's because he's not quite as easy to love as Raleigh, but I always end up loving him anyway. Bill Murray just does reprehensible so well. I wonder if he qualifies as Wes Anderson's muse?
10. Phil: Groundhog Day
Who doesn't love Groundhog Day? Watching it more than once is like an exercise in deja vu, but that's part of the brilliance behind it. The thing is, you never get tired of seeing Phil. You never get tired of seeing what he'll try to do next. I rather imagine that if Bill Murray were really a weatherman, he'd be kind of like this.
Bill Murray is a truly gifted actor. He's so versatile, and I don't think he gets enough credit for that. I recently read an interview where he stated he wouldn't do any more out-there comedies unless something really grabbed his attention, and I understand that completely. By being so discerning, he's not in danger of becoming a caricature of himself. That being said, I also love Bill Murray as Bill Murray in Zombieland, but including that felt a little like cheating. What are your favorite Bill Murray movies?