Harold Ramis and Bill Murray: Inside The ‘Groundhog Day’ Duo's Decade-Long Feud

Harold Ramis and Bill Murray: Inside The 'Groundhog Day' Duo's Decade-Long Feud

Their greatest film undid their comedic partnership

Harold Ramis and Bill Murray made beautiful comedy together. Their list of collaborations encompass “Caddyshack,” “Stripes,” and “Ghostbusters,” each of them among the funniest films of all time.

Their masterwork, “Groundhog Day” is a sly and subversive romantic comedy that justly earned inclusion in the United States National Film Registry and is considered a modern classic. It also split the longtime friends and film partners apart.

In Tad Friend's definitive 2004 New Yorker profile of Ramis, the actor, writer and director who died Monday at 69, revealed that he was often at odds with Murray during filming of the 1993 comedy. Disagreements over the tone of the film — Murray wanted it to be more philosophical, Ramis preferred to nail the punchlines — made for a very tense production.

Also read: President Obama Makes ‘Caddyshack’ Joke in Tribute to Harold Ramis

“At times, Bill was just really irrationally mean and unavailable; he was constantly late on set,” Ramis told Friend. “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.'”

Not helping matters was the fact that Murray's marriage was dissolving at the time, Friend writes.

“They were like two brothers who weren't getting along,” “Groundhog Day” screenwriter Danny Rubin told the New Yorker writer.

After filming ended, the pair stopped speaking together, although Ramis tried unsuccessfully to corral Murray into his film “The Ice Harvest,” a 2005 box office and critical dud ripe for reappraisal.

In a 2009 interview with the A.V. Club, Ramis said he still had no contact with Murray, but praised the actor's work in “Rushmore” and said he was grateful for their previous collaborations.

See photos: Remembering Harold Ramis – 13 of His Most Iconic Contributions to Comedy

“Bill was a strong man…You'd do a movie with Bill, a big comedy in those early days, just knowing he could save the day no matter how bad the script was, that we'd find something through improvisation,” Ramis said. “That was our alliance, kind of, our big bond. I could help him be the best funny Bill Murray he could be, and I think he appreciated that then. And I don't know where that went, but it's there on film. So whatever happens between us in the future, at least we have those expressions.”

On Monday, Murray paid tribute to those expressions and his fallen collaborator, in wry, Murray-esque fashion.

Harold Ramis and I together did the ‘National Lampoon Show' off Broadway, ‘Meatballs,’ ‘Stripes,’ ‘Caddyshack,’ ‘Ghostbusters' and ‘Groundhog Day,'”Murray said in a statement. ”He earned his keep on this planet. God bless him.”

  • Laszlo Toth

    Harold Ramis and Bill Murray were polar opposites; Harold was warm and generous, Bill was chemically sour and perpetually self -involved. Always has been, since Saturday Night Live. I once saw him refuse to have a picture taken with a young fan, a twelve year old.. Then, when Bill was told the boy had terminal cancer, he begrudgingly came out of his trailer. What a prick!

    • ajbezark

      The real Laszlo Toth?

      • Francis

        I don't recall the term prick in any of the letters from Laszlo, but I don't doubt the story. Murray was/is weak to hold a grudge against one of the nicest guys in the biz

      • Matthew Albright

        Bang bang Laszlo's silver hammer….

    • Megan

      Murray and Chevy Chase hate each other, which is odd because they are clones, personality-wise.

      • James_Blair

        Its not all that odd. Two people with the same sort of public persona “act” will never be able to share the same room. They step on each others toes just being around each other.

    • Daniel

      Oh, so Laszlo, everyday, everywhere you go, people want a piece of you? So you know exactly what it's like?

    • Bobmonroe3

      Bill could be a real sourpuss. I amend what I just wrote: He is a real sourpuss.

  • tsol

    Bill Murray has Irish Alzheimers: he forgets everything but the grudges!

    • Scottysemporium

      That's the comment, there's the wisdom, that explains much.

      And not just derived from too many hours reading Joyce and its fin de siecle equivalencies in Angela's Ashes….”the only thing worse than an Irish Catholic upbringing is a poor Irish Catholic upbringing”, and so forth.

      You just have to grow up in a family, thus, to enjoy all the benefits accrued from generations of poets and cynics, famous drinkers and famous writers, nationalists, and the one group that had the distinction of being, according to Sigmund Freud, impervious to any benefits from psychoanalysis. The Irish.

      Bill, God love ya, I recognize that face from a mile away, in my own mirror.

  • Carie B

    I've always heard Murray is an ass but I love him anyway. I'm so sad regarding Ramis’ passing… Resting Peacefully now. <3

  • Beth_12

    It's clear that Murray is too much of a dick to realize that he lost a true friend. I hope he never wins an Oscar, which is apparently what he wants.

    • Donita

      They reconciled in recent years, so I am sure he has.

  • Megan

    Maybe in tribute to Harold, Bill Murray will stop roadblocking the next Ghostbusters film like he has been doing for the past 10 years.

    • the_bananaboat

      Without Harold “Egon” Ramis it wouldn't be the same.

      • kwijino

        If you want to see what amounts to Ghostbusters 3, go get the video game they did a few years back. Everyone was back voice acting their roles (including Max von Sydow as Vigo and William Atherton as Peck), and it took place about two years after Ghostbusters 2. Great game!

  • Greenizgood

    Bill Murray is not a nice person. He seems to go out of his way to be cruel and unkind. In my 20's, he shoved me out of line at a sporting event to ‘cut’ in line. I never saw him coming. When I said “you could have said ‘excuse me, and not shoved me,” he said “I could have.” But he wanted to shove me. He's just an a$$. I hate that we have to suffer him in Chicago as though he is mr. Chicago. He has none of the attributes most Chicagoans are known for like being friendly or helpful.

    • CharleyTuna

      Just as Bill Murray acted is the way I remember most Chicagoans in my 12 years there. People were overbearing and obnoxious quite often. Way too overcrowded. Traffic was always bad. And all the people were in a RAT RACE. I can visit, but could never live in that trash heap again.

      • JoetheFilmmaker

        Never met a guy from Chicago that was “nice”. They were all ruthless and offensive. I'm sure Murray is nice when he wants to be and mean when he has to be.

        No doubt, the Oscars was a set up for next year. Bill Murray will win the Oscar next year For Saint. Weinstein already has it marked on his calender.

        • alt.ego

          harold ramis was from chicago

        • pat

          ” Weinstein already has it marked on his calender.”

          haha, this is part of why the Oscars suck now

      • eman23

        Better that people be upfront unpleasant than sneaky fake “Minnesota nice”

        • James_Blair

          Very true. I'd rather have someone rude upfront than have them put the knife slowly in the back with that awe shucks minnesota smile to your face. The land of 10,000 fakes.

          • Bobmonroe3

            BTW where is Minnesota?

        • michael

          Why is that “better”? I hear this all the time and I don't see how it's better to be an up-front a-hole than to be nice but sometimes be an a-hole.

    • michael

      I read in some text book that Murray has Asperger Syndrome, a type of autism that impacts the ability to interact socially. Can't believe everything you read but this was a credible source and might help explain the things you hear about Bill Murray. Of course he could just be an BLEEP BLEEP.

    • Bobmonroe3

      Sir: If you can't say it: Murray is an ass. And a lot more things than even I won't write.

  • Cally Trask

    Harold Hamis like John Hughes created some of the greatest and most iconic American comedies ever. God bless him indeed. And I'm sure that Bill feels a loss and will miss the man.

  • SC Chicago

    Murray and Ramis had reconciled in recent years when Murray learned how sick Ramis was. Yes, they had a falling out, but do some follow up and finish the story.

    • mackenzie wunderlich

      My Uncle Isaac just got a nice
      12 month old Jeep from only workin on a pc at home… Read Full Article

    • Mark B. Newbauer

      thanks Second City!

    • Dylan Macay

      Loosen up the tampon, Francis!

  • kady

    Bill murray is the nicest guy I ever met actually. All you idiots who are saying hes not can shuv those comments up your asses. I met him this past summer at Kerry Woods celebrity wiffle ball event. When I introduced myself to him, he talked to me and joked around w my 8 yr old daughter. He posed for pictures w me, gave my daughter an autograph, and took a picture w my 5 month old son. He was frickin awesome. And he is MR chicago and earned that tital. Bill Murray is amazing. Greatest moment of my life was meeting him.

    • Frups

      So you chatted with a stranger for a few moments, now you act as if you know everything about him. Ok.

      • Donita

        Same as the rest of these people. So the negative stories are true but the positive isn't? Come on.

        • guest

          She was quite crudely negating the other stories because she had one passing encounter, the others didn't rip on her first.

    • Jay

      I can't help but find it amusing that this person has two children, but the greatest moment of her life was meeting Bill Murray.

      Either Bill Murray is the messiah, or people seriously overstate how wonderful it is to meet your child for the first time.

      • the_bananaboat

        The greatest moments of my life were when I got married, when I gave birth to each of my children, when I graduated medical school, and when I started my own private practice. I've met many celebrities over the years, but none of those events qualified as one of my greatest moments.

    • Blair J. Campbell

      Haha. I love how your chance meeting with Bill Murray gets crapped on because it was positive, where as the other meetings with him in this thread are all well-liked because they're negative. Proof that the internet HATES anyone saying nice things about someone.

      • awakeinwa

        He's older now. Mortality resets all.

    • Maliciousboy

      Even Lucifer knows how to charm.

    • the_bananaboat

      “shove”, “with”, “year”, “with”, “with”, and “title”.

    • Sterling Harris

      Maybe You Caught him On A Good Day. It appears Yours is the only positive comment. Personally I can't stand The AHole

  • David Hill

    It's a rare writer that can script great film after great film. Only Harold Ramis could write so many comedies that everyone considers to be classics.

    I couldn't tell you how bad it got, but we can only ask “How many more classics would they have done together if they'd been able to bury the hatchet?”

    • the_bananaboat

      I would put John Hughes on that list.

  • Paul F.

    I worked with Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters era) and he was a wonderful warm, engaging person. Whenever I saw him in the ensuing years he always remembered me, chatted and was friendly. Groundhog Day is a classic. Sad to see some people have poor view/experience of Bill Murray.

  • Xavier

    I guess what people remember about the breakup is that it lasted so
    long. A lot of people can or try to make up when one of them becomes
    sick, but when so long (decades) it's hard for people to see it or even
    know about it. The story seems more tragic when sickness seems to be
    the only thing that brought about reconciliation and the briefness
    afterwards, as some relationships take time to rebuild/repair.

  • twodogs4life

    I grew up watching these movies over and over. I was so sad when i heard Harold Ramis died. I really felt like i knew the man somehow thru his films. Bill Murray is a comedy genius and a very good actor. For sure one of my all time favorites. His performance in the 1980's film “The Razors Edge” has always stuck with me. It's sad that they had a falling out. I wish i didn't know that now that he's gone.