‘Groundhog Day’ Destroyed Harold Ramis and Bill Murray’s Friendship
Along with John Belushi, Murray and Ramis met in 1974 while working on The National Lampoon Radio Hour and The National Lampoon Show, The New Yorker reported in 2004.
Ramis quickly learned his style of comedy was the perfect balance between Murray and Belushi’s style of physical comedy. “As a person of intellect, I could complement John or Bill, who were people of instinct; I could help guide and deploy that instinct,” Ramis said.
Those early days provided a springboard for Ramis to write, and sometimes co-star in a slew of films with his National Lampoon buddies like Murray. Ramis churned out films like Animal House, Stripes, Ghostbusters, and Caddyshack. And while he worked together seamlessly with Murray, Groundhog Day divided the friends. They only reconciled shortly before Ramis’ death.
Bill Murray had creative and personal differences on ‘Groundhog Day’
Murray was going through a bitter divorce but also didn’t see eye to eye with Ramis on the direction of Groundhog Day.
“As has been widely documented, Groundhog Day was the film that broke the friendship between my dad and Bill Murray,” Ramis’ daughter Violet Ramis Stiel wrote in her book, “Ghostbuster’s Daughter: Life with My Dad, Harold Ramis.”
“Bill was going through a difficult time in his personal life, and he and my dad were not seeing eye to eye on the tone of the film,” she described. “They had a few arguments on set, including one in which my dad uncharacteristically lost his temper, grabbed Bill by the collar, and shoved him up against a wall. Eventually, Bill just completely shut my dad out…for the next twenty‑plus years.”
Bill Murray and Harold Ramis were like ‘two brothers who weren’t getting along’
Groundhog Day writer Danny Rubin compared the feud to two brothers in a fight. “They were like two brothers who weren’t getting along,” he told The New Yorker. “And they were pretty far apart on what the movie was about—Bill wanted it to be more philosophical, and Harold kept reminding him it was a comedy.”
“At times, Bill was just really irrationally mean and unavailable; he was constantly late on set,” Ramis said. “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 and Murray reconciled when Murray visited Ramis shortly before his death in 2014.
Bill Murray loves to get lost and experience something new
Ramis regretted the fallout and told The New Yorker he missed Murray. “It’s a huge hole in my life,” he said. “But there are so many pride issues about reaching out. Bill would give you his kidney if you needed it, but he wouldn’t necessarily return your phone calls.”
He then reflected on what made Murray such a special friend. “Bill loves to get lost, to throw the map out the window and drive till you have no idea where you are, just to experience something new,” he said while smiling. “Oh, I’d be the one with the map. I’m the map guy. I’m the one saying to Bill, ‘You know, we should get back now. They’re going to be looking for us.’”