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Bill Murray Vanity Fair interview on Christmas special, fame, George Clooney

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Bruce Weber exclusively for Vanity Fair

Bill Murray posed for the cover of December’s Vanity Fair — in a tuxedo, in a pool, with holiday decorations, no less — and, in an interview with longtime pal Mitch Glazer, opens up about fame, his “inside” and “outside” voices, and his Netflix holiday special, A Very Murray Christmas.

Speaking about his celebrity status, which extends not only to his films but his often-documented off-screen antics, Murray said, “You know, being famous is obviously not a Devil’s deal. I love the opportunity to work. It’s the thing I do best. I’m a much better person when I’m working. I’m at my absolute best, because it’s the ultimate terror. It’s the ultimate terror that I will not arrive, the ultimate terror that I am not. You know? That I am not. But I don’t feel that needy for the celebrity part of it.”

“You have your inside voice, and you have your outside voice, like little kids,” he continued. “Well, my outside voice is the ‘Bill Murray’ that people know. And my inside voice is — is me. And sometimes that voice is heard. I can speak it aloud, when I’m really at my best. You can hear my inside voice.”

That inner self, according to Murray, “can’t be diminished, because it’s supreme.”

“The only thing is if you don’t listen to it enough, you don’t hear it enough. That voice can’t be diminished. It can only be under-utilized — and mine is under-utilized. Everyone’s is under-utilized. I mean, God, I’m just so shallow, most of my day. You know? Most of my week, most of my month and year and life. But there is this desire, this wish to do better. Not in a competitive sense, but to just arrive, to show up. It’s when you kind of quiet down, slow things down — everything sort of turns back inside and sort of re-settles. Then, maybe, you can hear something.”

Glazer and Murray, who most notably collaborated on Scrooged, reunited recently for Rock the Kasbah and A Very Murray Christmas, which is set to stream on Netflix in December. The new Christmas special features a star-studded set that includes Chris Rock, Miley Cyrus, Amy Poehler, and George Clooney (who Murray said “looks like such an insane, crazy-handsome, beautiful movie star — it’s ridiculous. I just start laughing”).

The project also reunites him with his Lost in Translation director, Sofia Coppola. “People say, ‘Well, how do you collaborate with someone? Isn’t it your point of view?’ No, no. Real people know that anyone can have the great idea,” Murray told Glazer. “Anyone can have the great idea, and real people see the great idea instantly. They don’t hold on to theirs anymore; they see a great idea, whether it helps, instantly. People with real talent, they don’t worry about that stuff. It’s the people with not enough talent that you argue with.”

And he’s happy with the finished product. “I knew everyone was amazing,” said Murray. “And in the moment of making it all, I thought, Holy cow. I’ve never done anything like this. I’ve never felt this way, done anything like this.”

The December issue of Vanity Fair is arrives in New York, Los Angeles, and on digital devices Nov. 5, and then on newsstands nationwide Nov. 10. Get a closer look at the cover below. 

Bruce Weber exclusively for Vanity Fair