Bill Murray is famous for directing his calls to a mysterious 800 number, but it turns out Hollywood’s most unreachable man actually does have a cell phone.
In an exclusive clip from the upcoming episode of Sunday Today with Willie Geist, the St. Vincent actor, 67, revealed that while his 800 line is still operational for business, he uses a regular cell phone for personal calls.
“For kids and friends, really,” he told the host for the show’s second anniversary episode.
“If you have children, you end up having to be able to send messages to your children,” he explained. “They will not answer a phone call but they will respond to messages. So you got to be able to send a message.”
Outside of his family and friends, Murray, who does not have an agent, publicist or lawyer, responds only to a 800 number, which does not have a recorded voicemail message. Writer-director Theodore Melfi provided an account of what it was like trying to get in contact with Murray to pitch him the lead role in St. Vincent:
“Oh god, that story’s so crazy,” Melfi told USA Today in 2014. “The nuts and bolts is [Murray] has no agent and manager, as everyone knows. You just call the 1-800 number. And I left, I don’t know, a dozen messages. It’s not his voice on there. It’s a Skytel voicemail with a menu. You have to record the message and send the message. It’s so confusing.”
After weeks of trying, Murray eventually called the filmmaker. “He goes, ‘Listen, I got this script of yours and I don’t know who you are. I don’t Google people. I don’t know who you are, what you do. Tell me about yourself.’ So that was 20 minutes of me stammering around trying to tell Bill Murray who I am. And he goes, ‘Well, that sounds good,’ ” Melfi remembered.
Asked what he looks for in a voicemail pitch, Murray told Geist, “Well you want manners. There’s got to be manners involved.”
He compared going through his voicemails to opening snail mail. “They spend a lot of time disguising mail to make it look like its mail when it’s really just a solicitation,” he said. “You can get fooled every once in awhile. It looked like a wedding invitation and it was an opportunity to get discounts on pillows.”
Murray’s full interview on Sunday Today with Willie Geist airs Sunday at 8 a.m. ET on NBC.