"Tracking his movements in the wild, as he crashes karaoke partiesand kickball games, has become an online pastime; Mr. Murray himself has become the folkloric equivalent of a leprechaun or fairy godparent, popping up at unpredictable yet opportune moments...."The Times story contains some new ones — including the interview itself, which took place in a variety of locations — hotel, limo, Florence Gould Hall, where the reporter found himself unexpectedly ushered onstage to take part in Murray's chat for the Screen Actors Guild. Below are some excerpts:—
The afternoon begins in a Midtown Manhattan hotel room, where a publicist warns that Mr. Murray, now in a plaid shirt and blue shorts, will soon have to change for his public appearance.
Q. There’s a kind of joy you seem to bring out of people when they encounter you. Do you notice that?
A. Some are more joyous than others. I’m of the habit that if there are people waiting outside the hotel, you don’t sign those autographs there. Because that means when you come back in the middle of the night, they’re still there. It’s usually a one-time thing. That’s it; that’s your one time. You try your hardest, but you can’t always be perfect.
As he responds to this question, Mr. Murray brings me with him onto an elevator, guiding me through a backstage area and onto the stage, where the expectant audience applauds rapturously. Even though these plans were surely explained to me ahead of time, the effect is one of dreamlike disorientation, followed by a deep breath and a tacit decision to follow Mr. Murray’s lead
Q. I found online that you recently gave a 10- or 12-minute extemporaneous speech to a minor-league baseball hall of fame. Even in a moment like that, are you playing a role or being your authentic self?
A. Well, I think there’s an authentic self. Thank you for reminding me. [The audience laughs.] No, it’s true. You go on automatic sometimes, where you’re just reacting, as opposed to being your authentic self. Up here I can talk like a turkey and be funny, but it’s not necessarily my authentic self. Unless I’m watching myself.I spoke about the first time I went to Wrigley Field in Chicago, and I was a big Cubs fan, and I watched all the games on TV, but when I grew up, TV was in black and white. So when I was 7 years old, I was taken to my first Cubs games, and my brother Brian said, “Wait, Billy,” and he put his hands over my eyes, and he walked me up the stairs. And then he took his hands away. [He begins to get choked up.] And there was Wrigley Field, in green. There was this beautiful grass and this beautiful ivy. I’d only seen it in black and white. It was like I was a blind man made to see. It was something.
Q. Are there days where you wake up and think: “Nothing good has come to me in a little while. I’d better prime the pump”?
A. Well, who hasn’t woken up thinking, “God, nothing good has come to me in a while,” right? When I feel like I’m stuck, I do something — not like I’m Mother Teresa or anything, but there’s someone that’s forgotten about in your life, all the time. Someone that could use an “Attaboy” or a “How you doin’ out there.” It’s that sort of scene, that remembering that we die alone. We’re born alone. We do need each other. It’s lonely to really effectively live your life, and anyone you can get help from or give help to, that’s part of your obligation
Q. Did you ever think that the lessons you first learned on the stage of an improv comedy theater in Chicago would pay off later in life?
A. It pays off in your life when you’re in an elevator and people are uncomfortable. You can just say, “That’s a beautiful scarf.” It’s just thinking about making someone else feel comfortable. You don’t worry about yourself, because we’re vibrating together. If I can make yours just a little bit groovier, it’ll affect me. It comes back, somehow." — NYT