Bill Murray: The Oddly Satisfying Story Behind That ‘Groundhog Day’ Ad

Bill Murray is known for two things. First of all, he’s one of the most acclaimed comedic actors in the history of Hollywood cinema. Second, he’s known for being very particular in what projects he chooses. Some fans were a little surprised last night to see Murray in a Jeep ad where he reprized his role from the classic 1990s comedy Groundhog Day. Here’s how he was procured for the Super Bowl ad.

Bill Murray in Groundhog Day | Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

The difficulties of contacting Bill Murray

Olivier Francois is the chief marketing officer for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Needless to say, he’s pretty prominent. Even he had a difficult time contacting Murray.

According to FCA, Francois realized Super Bowl Sunday was going to coincide with Groundhog Day for only the second time in 54 years. This made him think of theming an ad around Groundhog Day, the beloved comedy film. It’s a great idea. After all, there aren’t any other Groundhog Day-themed films to compete with Murray’s opus.

Francois told USA Today the major difficulty surrounding this project was reaching Murray. “He doesn’t have a phone, doesn’t have an agent, doesn’t have an email. He allegedly has an 800 number. You leave a message and maybe he’ll call you back.”

How this funny ad came together

The now-famous Jeep commercial.

In the FCA press release, Francois said “Magic first happened when I had the incredible luck to meet Bill in person a few years ago, and I knew then that he was perfect for Jeep. Because like Jeep, Bill is a free spirit, he intentionally seeks out ways to find adventure and live an extraordinary life.”

USA Today reports Francois and Murray once attended the same dinner party and have overlapping social circles. Francois tried to get hold of Murray. He waited, waited, and waited. Eventually, Francois got hold of him through mutual friends.

Next, Francois needed to get hold of some rights. Obviously, he needed to get permission from Sony Pictures to “mirror” elements of Groundhog Day to create Jeep’s ad. In addition, he needed to license the classic Sonny & Cher duet “I Got You Babe.” One of the most famous jokes in Groundhog Day revolves around that song.

The folks at Jeep went the extra mile (no pun intended) for this ad. They got other members of the Groundhog Day cast to appear in the commercial. One of the cast members was Murray’s brother, Brian Doyle Murray.

What Jeep thinks of Bill Murray and vice versa

Bill Murray with Andie MacDowell in Groundhog Day | Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

Despite his difficulty reaching Murray, Francois still complimented him. “There’s just this sense of freedom in all he pursues. He will do things on his own terms…He’s adventurous. He’s original.”

Francois added “He never did a commercial, never intended to do one. But he did this one, which is a miracle.”

What does Murray think of all this? “This is my first commercial. I’m glad I did it with [Jeep]. And I’m glad that this is my last commercial, as well.”

Also see: Did Lady Gaga Call Out Jennifer Lopez & Shakira Before the Super Bowl?