5 Things You May Not Know About ‘Groundhog Day’ (Plus Where to Stream the Bill Murray Movie)
It’s déjà vu all over again for Bill Murray. The actor is rumored to be revisiting his Groundhog Day role as cynical TV weatherman Phil Connors in a Super Bowl ad for Jeep. This year’s big game coincides with Groundhog Day — Feb. 2.
Murray and co-star Stephen Tobolowsky (who played Ned Ryerson) were spotted filming in Woodstock, Illinois, where the 1993 movie about a many stuck in a time loop was shot. Jeep hasn’t confirmed that an ad will run during Chiefs-49ers matchup in Miami, but many are convinced that one is in the works.
Groundhog Day was a modest success upon its release, earning $71 million at the box office. In the years since, it’s become a cult favorite. But even if you’ve watched the movie as many time as Murray’s character experiences Groundhog Day, there’s still more to learn about this classic comedy.
Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell weren’t the first choices for the leads
Murray does such an amazing job of inhabiting the character of Phil Connors that it’s hard to imagine Groundhog Day without him. But according to IndieWire, director Harold Ramis originally offered the role to Tom Hanks. He wasn’t available, and he has no regrets about not getting the part, reportedly telling Ramis: “Audiences would have been sitting there waiting for me to become nice, because I always play nice. But Bill’s such a miserable S.O.B. on and off screen, you didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Andie MacDowell, who plays Phil’s co-worker and love interest Rita, also wasn’t a shoo-in for the part. Apparently, singer-songwriter Tori Amos was considered for the role before it went to MacDowell.
It’s Michael Shannon’s first movie
These days, Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon is known for his starring roles in films like Nocturnal Animals and Knives Out. But in the early 1990s, he was a young actor in Chicago. He landed his first film role in Groundhog Day, playing a groom named Fred who loves WrestleMania.
Later, he recalled that he embarrassed himself on set when he realized Murray was listening to Talking Heads. Shannon approached Murray, saying, “You like Talking Heads? They’re my favorite band.” The older actor replied that he wouldn’t be listening to them if he didn’t like them.
The groundhog bit Bill Murray
In one Groundhog Day scene, Murray drives with the groundhog on his lap. But the animal apparently didn’t take to the comedian, chomping on his hand during filming.
“The groundhog hated my guts from Day 1,” Murray later said, according to the New York Times.
The weather was also frigid, and Murray was unhappy about having to repeatedly step into an icy puddle as he relives his daily encounter with insurance salesman Ned Ryerson. Today, there’s a plaque in Woodstock marking the famous spot where Murray got his feet wet.
The movie turned Punxsutawney into a tourist destination
In Groundhog Day, Woodstock, a small town near Chicago, stands in for Punxsutawney, Pa., the home of the country’s most famous Groundhog Day celebration. These days, people travel from all over to see whether the groundhog will predict six more weeks of winter. Before the movie was released, the event was much smaller.
“The movie blew everything up,” John Griffiths, one of the groundhog’s handlers, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We went from having a few thousand, to 10,000 the next year, and it’s only gotten bigger.” Visitors pump between $1 and $4 million into the local economy during their visits.
‘Groundhog Day’ destroyed Murray and Ramis’s friendship
Murray and Ramis’s friendship went back to the 1970s, and they’d already worked together on hits like Caddyshack and Ghostbusters. But the relationship didn’t survive Groundhog Day. After wrapping up the film, the pair didn’t speak for 21 years, though they did reconnect before Ramis’s death in 2014.
“At times, Bill was just irrationally mean and unavailable; he was constantly late on set. What I’d want to say to him is just what we tell our children: ‘You don’t have to throw tantrums to get what you want. Just say what you want,’” Ramis told the New Yorker when speaking of what it was like to work with Murray on the movie.
How to stream ‘Groundhog Day’
Groundhog Day isn’t streaming on Netflix or Hulu, but if you have a Showtime subscription, you can watch the film on-demand. It’s also available to rent on Google Play, iTunes, and YouTube. The movie will also air on Showtime at 9 a.m. ET on Feb. 2.