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Robert Downey Wanted Bill Murray For Iron Man But Couldn’t Find Him

For all of the stories about Bill Murray sneaking up on people in New York City or bartending in Austin during SXSW, the veteran actor and comedian is a bit of a recluse, at least professionally, relying on a seldom-checked voice mailbox rather than an agent or manager to field script offers. That means he sometimes misses out on big roles, such as that of Sulley in Monsters, Inc. or Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate.

While directors like Wes Anderson clearly have no problems reaching Murray — the two have worked together on six films, including the current Moonrise Kingdom — others, such as Sofia Coppola, have had to go to great lengths to track him down, if they can find him at all. Apparently, Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. had neither the luck of Anderson nor the tenacity of Coppola, as he and director Jon Favreau wanted Murray for the 2008 Marvel Studios film but couldn’t track him down.

That latest wrinkle to the Mystery of Murray comes from writer Scott Raab, who interviewed the actor for the new issue of Esquire. “Downey told me: ‘We wanted Bill to consider a role in Iron Man, but nobody could find him,'” Raab told Murray. “Show people are awestruck by your inaccessibility.”

“I’m not trying to be coy,” the actor replied. “It’s just practical for me. When the phone started ringing too many times, I had to take it back to what I can handle. I take my chances on a job or a person as opposed to a situation. I don’t like to have a situation placed over my head.”

Who might Murray have played if Marvel had gotten in touch with him? Either Downey didn’t say or Raab didn’t share, but it’s easy to envision Murray as the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S., or even in an on-screen role as Tony Stark’s bodyguard and chauffeur Happy Hogan (parts that went to Paul Bettany and Favreau, respectively).

Seeing as how Iron Man 3 is now filming in Wilmington, North Carolina, it may not be too late for Downey to enlist Murray: The comedian has a home just 170 miles away in Charleston, South Carolina; maybe he’s better about answering the door than he is picking up the phone.

(via The Playlist)


  • LavonneDDecker
  • Bass Guitar Hero

    Murray has become more and more selective about the projects he does these days. Dan Aykroyd couldn’t quite get him to sign on for Ghostbusters 3.

  • Daniel Wheeler


  • Relic1962

    He played Johnny Storm on the early 1970s radio show of The Fantastic Four, narrated by Stan Lee. You may be able to find an audio version on Youtube or someplace.

  • Rollo Tomassi

    Bill Murray as Edwin Jarvis would be awesome. Line him up for future Avengers movies.

  • James J. Reaves III

    RDJ ought to stop by for a Charleston RiverDogs baseball game; i’m not saying i see Murray every time i go, but it’s more often than not.

  • DasGeek

    In a 1970’s radio show.

  • Mario II

    He voiced Johnny Storm for a Fantastic 4 radio drama that lasted 13 episodes.

  • lead_sharp

    Extremmis = Sal.

  • jrau18

    That would be a little rude.

  • jrau18

    I doubt we’ll see regular Jarvis.

  • jrau18

    That’s putting it lightly. It took years to get him to even read some of the script.

  • Chris Keenan


  • Demoncat4

    he would have proably bee cast as maybe justin hammer. no use wondering for that oppurtunity has long passed

  • Guest

    I’d guess either the part for Murray was removed, or the part was the Jeff Bridges role— Stane. Casting against type, perhaps?

  • Alex

    I heard he got a deaf personal assistant while he was working on Groundhog Day, just to mess with the studio people or something.

  • LightningBug

    Since nobody’s said it yet, he played Johnny Storm on a fantastic four radio show that aired in the 70s…