Bill Murray on his love for Dresden Stollen and getting older

Bill Murray (71) is not only an actor, comedian and fan of US literature – he also sings: for example in the cinema, where he sang in 2016 in the new version of Disney’s “The Jungle Book” as Balu “The Bare Necessities”. Together with his German-American friend, cellist Jan Vogler (58), the 71-year-old has launched an artistic project: the men combine literature with classical music and classics from US music history. 2018 on a joint album, a year later on a world tour – and now in the movie “New Worlds – The Cradle of Civilization”.

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When did you discover singing for yourself?

Bill Murray: A few decades ago: I started in the bathtub – in the early 1970s in my tiny Chicago apartment. One of my first public singing appearances was on The David Letterman Show in 1982, where I performed the Olivia Newton-John hit “Physical.”

And they did an aerobic dance performance as well, as you can see in the YouTube clip…

Murray: Well, I’m a real all-rounder: actor, singer, dancer, reader. (laughs) In the program “New Worlds” I dance a tango in a sequence with our violinist Mira. I love this dance! However, my skills are still very limited, even though I took extra lessons.

What do you like to do privately with your friend Jan Vogler, who lives in New York like you?

Murray: I love watching sports on TV with Jan. When it comes to US sports, he’s a total amateur. He still doesn’t understand some of the rules – for example in American football. Although I tried really hard to explain it to him. (laughs) Sometimes we also go to the gym together to train. Of course, in my early 70s I don’t step on the gas that much anymore, but Jan is fully involved and especially loves supersets. It’s always great to see him critically examining his pecs or biceps in the gym mirror. (laughs)

What kind of cliché did you have in mind about Germans?

Murray: Like many Americans, I thought for a long time that the Germans lived mainly on bratwurst, sauerkraut and beer. This cliché has persisted for decades. And that’s why I couldn’t believe how good your bread is. On the other hand, you can totally forget Italian or French. In my eyes it is the best bread in the whole world! I won’t even get started on German wine… And then there are these Christmas cakes that I bought in Dresden.

You mean Dresden Stollen?

Murray: Maybe that’s what they’re called. All I know is that these are some of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten. Not only are they delicious, but they keep for months. I have no idea how you do it. But the next time I’m in Germany, I’ll buy 20 of them and give them away to people I particularly like.

According to her statement, politicians are not necessarily this type of person… What is your first interim assessment after more than a year in office of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris?

Murray: The US Congress has been more or less deadlocked for years and that is of course very unattractive for any incumbent. I can’t yet tell if Biden is doing more or less than his predecessors, but at least he’s doing his job much more quietly.

So you prefer it quiet?

Murray: There are also situations in which I like noise, but without the relaxing silence in between it’s no longer fun for me. Trump messed up a lot, including some good things like US criminal justice reform, but he certainly wasn’t quiet. I feel sorry for everyone who had to listen to all this noise and endure all this fighting, bullying and bullying. And the world got the wrong impression that America was a noisy place full of noisy people. But this country is not like that. Anyone who has ever driven from the east coast to the west coast knows exactly what I’m talking about. There is always this unbelievable vastness and stillness.

Do you still believe in the power of politics?

Murray: There’s basically too much hot air in the game for me – it doesn’t matter whether it’s produced by Democrats or Republicans. Too often politicians just blast loud noises back and forth from one side of the room to the other. If something important has to be done before Christmas, the East or the summer holidays, they might pull themselves together. But the rest of the time they just fritter away. And that always goes terribly wrong, as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is currently tragically proving.

How do you deal with the awareness that life is finite and the years are flying by faster and faster?

Murray: Getting old can be quite a shock because it happens so suddenly. Suddenly you’re 70 and you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh crap, what the hell have I been doing all these years?” The time I have left has become frighteningly manageable. It’s not about my body deteriorating and me getting older, weaker, more forgetful and frail. I don’t care about the shock when I look in the mirror and no longer recognize the person I see there…


Murray: We all ask ourselves the same question at some point: Have I used my time well – or have I wasted far too many years simply because I thought that different laws apply to me and that I therefore have forever to catch up on everything to be able to? The fact is: You only have a certain amount of time to manage reasonably well to lead a life that fills you with inner satisfaction.

Would you like to be 35 again?

Murray: When it comes to the physical, that would certainly have its appeal. But other than that, age is just a number to me. There are young people who are mentally as old as 80-year-olds. And there are people who, at 80, still have the wit, esprit and curiosity of a 30-year-old. It doesn’t happen that often, but there are these wonderfully inspiring people. Who are simply irrepressible and still full of mischief and fun even in old age. To become like that – that’s my goal!

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