Bill Murray explains why he created a secret answerphone number to field his job offers

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Bill Murray (Credit: Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

Among the many eccentricities that surround the enigmatic Bill Murray is the legendary 'answerphone' number that remains pretty much the only way of getting in touch with him.

The Ghostbusters icon missed out on not a few roles because he simply didn't check his messages.

But he's now broached why he set up the 1-800 number, which was passed around via word of mouth, in the first place.

Read more: Original Ghostbusters cast reuniting for sequel

“I had a house phone, and it would just ring and ring,” Murray told Indiewire.

“Finally, I’d pick up the phone and I’d say, ‘Who in the f**k is calling me and letting my phone ring like that?’

“The agent would say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I’m calling for so-and-so.’ I’d say, ‘Look, you can’t do this. This is my house. If I don’t answer the phone, don’t do that because you’re making me not like you.’

Bill Murray and Adam Driver in The Dead Don't Die (Credit: Focus Features)

“Their job is, ‘Get me Bill Murray on the phone.’ They have nothing else to do. [So] I just unplugged the phone and then I got this 800 number, which is very handy.”

He went on: “I’m not very disciplined anymore. This was a way you could not answer any phone, and whenever you felt like engaging, you could check to see who had bothered to call and what the message was. It just freed up my life a whole lot.

“It’s not like at 11 o’clock it’s time to check the messages. Sometimes I go days or weeks. Sorry I’m busy living.

“I’m not trying to work for anyone. So now I barely maintain that facade anymore. I don’t really do much of anything for this. I don’t even know how anybody reaches me anymore.”

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However, he does remain open to calls from filmmakers he now considers friends, such as Sofia Coppola, with whom he made Lost In Translation, Wes Anderson, who he's made many movies with, and Jeff Jarmusch.

Jarmusch told the website: “I got the number from Bill a long time ago, but I have a few of his numbers.

“What I love is that Bill protects himself. I don’t know that many people of that kind of high profile who can. Bill protects what he feels is his directive in his life — what is his job and how he wants to live. So he structures it in a way where he doesn’t have an entourage or a hedge of people around him. It’s very direct, but he can kind of close it off.”

Murray is currently starring alongside Tilda Swinton and Adam Driver in Jarmusch's zombie comedy The Dead Don't Die.

It’s out in the UK on July 12.