The Story Of How One Woman Stalked Bill Murray And Got Him To Be In Her Movie - Anita's Notebook


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    A picture of Anita Wirawan in Seattle, Washington.

    My name is Anita Wirawan and I love stories :).
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    I started this blog in 2008 after my brother Jody died & over the years it's become my notebook for stories.

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*The Story Of How One Woman Stalked Bill Murray And Got Him To Be In Her Movie*

Sometimes you just have to be a go getter. That was movie director Sofia Coppola’s philosophy when she decided the she absolutely had to have Bill Murray as the leading man in a movie she wanted to make.A picture of Sofia Coppola looking directly into the camera and wearing a star necklace.

She felt so strongly about having him in that particular movie that if he didn’t agree to do it she would abandon the project entirely.

Her plan was to do whatever it took to get his attention and then convince him that the movie deserved his efforts.

There was a major problem with her plan though, even if she did manage to get Bill Murray’s attention (which in itself was legendary in Hollywood circles for being a nearly impossible task) and somehow convinced him to be in the movie she couldn’t actually pay him the kind of money he was used to getting. Nowhere near it.

This didn’t stop her though, I think it was one of those kinds of things where she told herself she’d just cross that bridge when she got there. At that point her entire mind and existence was set on simply getting Bill Murray to talk to her.

In an interview with the New York Times she described that period in her life with a single telling sentence:

“Stalking Bill became my life’s work.”

A picture of Bill Murray with raised eyebrows and looking sideways.She pursued him for months and months doing anything she could think of to get him to meet with her. Since Murray was notoriously hard to get a hold of and didn’t like to make it known where he was at any given time this meant her trying a lot of unusual tactics like calling someone she barely knew that just happened to live in the same town as Murray and …asking him if he knew Bill Murray lol.

A couple years before all this happened Murray had gotten rid of his talent agency and replaced it with a voicemail type setup. Most people didn’t know the number but she managed to get a hold of it and called him every day.

After months and months of having Sofia Coppola and her proposal for the movie pop up in his life, Bill Murray finally agreed to meet with her and miraculously she was even able to convince him to do the movie despite not being able to pay him what he was worth.

As you can imagine this was an amazing time for her but there was a new problem to worry about: Yes Murray had agreed to do the movie but he (for some reason) wouldn’t put anything in writing.A picture of director Sofia Coppola on the set of Lost In Translation next to a movie camera.

This meant that she had no clue if he’d blow off the movie at the last minute, which would make all her time and efforts a waste not to mention all the money that was being put into pre-production (about a million dollars). Would he end up taking a more lucrative project at the last minute?

Alarmingly Murray stayed elusive about the project and the set of the movie was without its major star even just days before filming was supposed to start.

As time was ticking down Coppola finally got a call from one of her producers saying ‘The eagle has landed’, meaning he had just seen Murray arriving at the airport.

The movie, Lost In Translation, was filmed in just twenty-seven days and had a budget a small fraction of what most movies spend on special effects alone.

A movie poster for Lost In Translation where Bill Murray is sitting on the hotel bed looking lost and depressed.After reading this story about Sofia Coppola’s tenacity though it probably won’t surprise you that the movie ended up a major commercial success relative to it’s cost, bringing in a hundred and twenty million dollars.

It won an Oscar, Golden Globes, and various other major awards but it also won an award much more rare and more valuable in it’s own way.

Not only did Sofia Coppola against all odds get Bill Murray to agree to be in Lost In Translation but it also ended up being, out of all the movies he’s been in, his favorite.


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  1. TheIkarians says:

    I Knew it!!!!!! I knew it was LOST IN TRANSLATION!!!! I knew it!!!! The minute I read the first line of this post I knew it was about this movie! wow! Since you recomended me to watch this movie I have found differents ways and meaning inside this story. But what Did Sofia have in mind when making this film (Besides to have Bill acting in the project) How many diff meaning this movie has in real life for aerage ppl? Is it just me but I find it quiet extraordinary the point of view behind every scene. For me everytime I watch this movie tells me another story about why is he living that moment in the way he is, the same goes for Scarlett´s character. Today´s just like that, sitting on Bed, with sleepers on your feet, your finger crossed, but completly lost in place, life, time and ofcourse in Translation!!! But then it all starts to chance with every minute of the movie. Why is he talking to the guy at the bar when He doesn´t know what he´s talking about? Ia it the language, the country? Ppl? Place? No!!! I think its about all of us sitting around comunicating words while we fly in the wind, letting us go with no direction but for a moment, just to see what´s next.
    I could say lots more, but I´m absolutelt sure that at this point you must be asking what Am I talking about! lol

    • Anita says:

      Hi Nairim :)

      It’s very interesting because from what I can tell Lost In Translation is one of those movies that people either absolutely love or hate with a passion.

      I’ve seen a lot of people write that they thought the movie was boring “because nothing at all happens” in it. But yet other (people like you and I) see things happening all over the place, with multitudes of stories and meanings in each scene.

      I think this huge rift in perception is due to the storytelling style of the movie, it’s not the kind that beats you over the head with meaning but instead invites you to take a deeper look and experience it.

      And it’s exactly this difference that makes Lost In Translation the kind of movie that I can watch over and over again. In some ways the movie is even more interesting to watch now than it was the first time I seen it, sounds like you feel the same way too.

  2. terry says:

    What a coincidence!
    Last night I was at a San Francisco Woman Film makers sneak peek and discussion…and Tiffany Shlain (Connected, The Tribe) mentioned that Sofia didn’t make one red cent on that movie. The point she was making to us was that we have to dot and cross everything…or we won’t see a payday.

    • Anita says:

      Hi Terry,

      Sofia Coppola didn’t profit from the movie…damn that’s a big shame. Did Tiffany Shlain give any specifics as to what went wrong? As in was it lack of solid contracts with the actors/crew or just in general?

  3. James says:

    I guess it’s no surprise it got made… the Coppola name goes a long way regardless of how she started or her intentions.