Murray attends his first Comic-Con ever, for 'Rock the Kasbah'

By Darren Franich
Updated July 10, 2015 at 02:07 PM EDT
Alon Amir

Rock the Kasbah

  • Movie

Bill Murray came to Comic-Con for the first time Thursday morning, kicking off the first Hall H panel of SDCC 2015. The notoriously elusive actor made a surprise appearance at the fan event to talk about his starring role in the new film Rock the Kasbah, yet Murray instigated a freewheeling panel alongside longtime friend and collaborator Mitch Glazer.

It began when he walked through the aisles of Hall H, wearing a bandanna wrapped around his head, in character as rock promoter Richie Lanz. (The opening guitar chords from Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” played over his entrance; Murray sang a few lines when he got onstage.) He sat down. He threw a full water bottle out to the crowd. “If you wanna stay at the part, you gotta hydrate,” Murray said. “We started the morning with some bagels and some tequila. But then: Water okay?”

Here are 11 thoughts and life lessons Murray shared with the Hall H crowd:

Murray, on singer-songwriter Van Morrison: “He’s a moody Irishman. He’s from the North. He looks like he’s a hocky goalie. He’s a growler. He plays 45 minutes and no seconds. There’s actually a time clock on the stage. He’s the greatest songwriter.”

On the differences between America and Rock the Kasbah‘s filming locations: “There’s less public drinking in Morocco. People are very gentle. It’s a Muslim country, but I like their intepretation of the book. They’re gentle, lovely people. A lot of history. Cool places to stay. Great beach towns. There’s off-road stuff, if you want to do that.”

On co-star Bruce Willis: “We have an ancient history I wasn’t aware of…when I was on Saturday Night Live, Bruce was a page. It’s a job you take where you’re kind of a slave. It’s like an intern-slave. His job was to refill the M&M and peanut bowls in the actors’ dressing rooms. Years later, after a few tequilas, he said, [doing a reasonably growly Willis impression] ‘Only you and Gilda were nice to me.’ He’s all right. We had a fun time.”

A tip for young performers: “You get away with a lot more if you don’t want a writing credit.”

On his upcoming Netflix Christmas special: “We did a goofy Christmas show, which was a great story we [Murray, Glazer, and Sofia Coppola] wrote. We had a bunch of unusual people. We had Buster Poindexter, Dave Johansen, Jenny Lewis, Rashida Jones, the band Phoenix. We had Paul Shaffer, Jason Schwartzman, and then out of nowhere comes Miley Cyrus.”

On Cyrus: “I’m gonna say this officially: Miley Cyrus is good. I was not particularly convinced, but Miley Cyrus is really f—ing good. She can really sing. I thought she was a knucklehead crazy girl, the kind of girl you’d want to go on a road trip with. But she can really sing. She floored everybody: Paul Shaffer, George Clooney. I don’t wanna hear any bad rapping on Miley Cyrus.”

On Rock the Kasbah co-star Zooey Deschanel: “We had a wrap party on a galleon, a ship. They had a karaoke night. [Zooey] chose to sing “We Are The World.” Do you know how hard it is to sing that song? It’s up there [points upwards] to sing it. She’s go to sing the pitches and the keys and notes of 14 of the greatest singers in America. If she died tomorrow, I’d say her karaoke work would live forever.”

Asked about his favorite role: “Once upon a time, I did save the city of New York. And I had the coolest damn car to drive around Manhattan.”

Asked about his favorite moment filming Rock the Kasbah: “I think one thing that was really amazing, there was a night in Marrakech when were in a restaurant you wouldn’t even notice…[proceeds to describe in lovely and microscopic detail a century-old building with a restaurant on a rooftop with a two-man band playing a four-string instrument and a drum] You’re on top of the city, overlooking the market, and the stars are above you, and there’s this rhythm that’s thousands of years old. And you think, y’know, I’m in an actors’ union, I’m just a guy from Illinois. And I’m here, being able to touch and listen to something that’s affected people for centuries. You get reminded that you have a responsibility to take what you’ve been given, transform yourself somehow, and pass it on.”

Asked a rather vague question about social media, empowering minorities, and what he does to make the world better: “The world is changing. It’s very slow, and it doesn’t change the way we want it… it’s planetary, it’s universal. You can hit a table and say: ‘This is wrong.’ There’s a flag flying from a building in South Carolina that people are really upset about. It’s gonna change. But it doesn’t change because people say so. We were a country that was founded with a glorious Declaration of Independence, at a time when we still had slavery! The deal was: Okay, we’ll sign it, but in 1820, the laws will start changing. They made a 50-year-plan to get it done. It’s insane, but you had to make some kind of compromise. It was wrong. Still is wrong. You can only make it happen so fast. How do you make it change? It starts with yourself. We are slaves ourselves. We’re slaves to our own weaknesses. We’re slaves to our bodies, to our emotions. If you can free your own self, that’s the best thing you can do.”

Right after an audience member dressed as a unicorn sang “It’s a Small World” into the microphone: “Oh God, I could do this forever.”

Episode Recaps

Rock the Kasbah

  • Movie
  • R
  • 102 minutes