With his latest documentary effort, the SXSW-premiering The Bill Murray Stories, director Tommy Avallone has become an expert on all things Bill Murray, examining how the man, the myth and the legend intersect. The film paints a portrait of Murray from the perspective of those who have been witness to his legendary antics and fan interactions. In the most famous case, Murray is said to have walked up behind a random passerby and put his hands over their eyes, telling them — upon recognizing the famous actor — “No one will ever believe you.”
“I became really fascinated with the idea of, why would someone do this? That’s a weird, funny thing to do,” Avallone said, of the tale that launched Murray’s mythology. “Then you start researching and there’s all these other crazy, random stories of him going to people’s parties and doing the dishes, or joining your kickball game. It was this really fascinating thing that I became very interested in.”
Speaking with Deadline at SXSW on Sunday, the director explained his methodology in tracking down individuals willing to share their Bill Murray stories with their world through his documentary. “When people do stories, sometimes it will say the name. So then you have to go and find that person, because they don’t have a manager or agent, the people you want to interview. Like, ‘Bill Murray plays kickball with you. Who are you?’ So you have to go on Facebook, find that person and judge if that’s the right area,” Avallone explained of his research tactics. “At the time, you couldn’t send a message to that particular person if you weren’t Facebook friends with them, so you had to go through their Facebook friends and find that person, that comedian or musician that would just accept anyone and get that person to accept you. So that way, you can send a message to that person and then interview him.”
To hear more from Deadline’s conversation with Avallone about the making of The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man, take a look above.
The Deadline Studio at SXSW 2018 is presented by MoviePass.