Why Bill Murray Was Almost in ‘Iron Man’ With Robert Downey Jr.

Imagine if Bill Murray starred in Iron Man (2008) alongside Robert Downey Jr. who just this year wrapped up his time as Tony Stark aka Iron Man (learn more about his last scene as the superhero here) in Avengers: Endgame, a film that’s broken many box office records

That’s what 54-year-old Downey Jr. wanted but he couldn’t get in touch with the Ghostbusters (1984) actor. 

During a 2012 interview for Esquire’s June/July issue, Scott Raab, who had previously spoken with Downey Jr., told Murray he had a spot in Iron Man if he wanted it. The only problem was that no one could get in touch with him. 

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

“Downey told me: ‘We wanted Bill to consider a role in Iron Man, but nobody could find him,’” Raab told Murray before adding, “Show people are awestruck by your inaccessibility.”

Since Downey Jr. made that comment in 2012, nothing’s been revealed about Murray’s possible role in Iron Man. Whatever it was, we can say it would’ve been fun to see Murray try his acting skills at a Marvel superhero movie. 

Bill Murray says his 1-800 number for roles is ‘practical’

The reason “nobody could find” Murray as Downey Jr. put it, is because the actor uses a toll-free number to field roles. 

It’s widely known in Hollywood that 68-year-old Murray doesn’t have an agent or manager. Instead, he has a 1-800 number that’s simply passed around by word of mouth. 

People who get the number leave Murray messages about possible roles or projects the actor can peruse when he finds the time. But that could mean days, weeks, or even months of waiting. 

Bill Murray
Bill Murray. | George Pimentel/WireImage

When speaking to Esquire, Murray said the 1-800 number came about when he started getting too many phone calls.

“I’m not trying to be coy. It’s just practical for me,” Murray said about his strategy. “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,” he added. 

In a recent interview with IndieWire, Murray discussed his famous (and maybe infamous to some) 1-800 number again. 

“I had a house phone, and it would just ring and ring,” Murray explained. 

He continued, saying the constant phone calls at home got to be too much. He’s got a family of six boys and a life to lead outside of acting. 

“Finally, I’d pick up the phone and I’d say, ‘Who in the f**k is calling me and letting my phone ring like that?’ The agent would say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I’m calling for so-and-so.’ I’d say, ‘Look, you can’t do this. This is my house. If I don’t answer the phone, don’t do that because you’re making me not like you,’” he said. 

“I just unplugged the phone and then I got this 800 number, which is very handy,” he added.

Murray’s known for being hard to reach but that’s by design. However, for the people he likes to work with — Wes Anderson and Sofia Coppola — they have a bit of an easier time tracking him down. 

“The people that know me, they get to me,” Murray said. “The people that don’t know me just have a little more difficulty.”

While Murray said getting a phone gave him “a whole lot” more free time, we’d gladly spend our free time listening to his voicemails. With what’s left of our time, we’d fantasize about the role he could’ve had in Iron Man