When you invite Bill Murray to be a guest on your late-night show, it’s always a gamble. For one thing, the infamously hard-to-contact actor is known to duck phone calls from even producers and directors trying to pay him millions of dollars to star in their movies. And while Jimmy Kimmel was similarly stood up by Murray for Wednesday’s booked appearance, at least The French Dispatch star had a good excuse, as he explained that a nor’easter where he’s currently at knocked out power with winds up to 90 miles per hour. At least, that’s the message Kimmel got secondhand during Thursday’s remote make-up appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Or maybe it’s third-hand?
Let’s call it second-hand-and-a-half, as Murray, whose location Kimmel described only as “somewhere on the Continent,” brought along two separate language interpreters to help with any cross-cultural communication issues. Well, Murray started out with one translator, a gamely deadpan French woman, who inexplicably translated Kimmel’s English-language questions into French for Murray—who then answered Kimmel in English. If that weren’t confusing enough for Kimmel, a second translator then struggled into camera range, effortfully squeezing past the inflatable thingies swaddling Murray’s legs, to settle in on the couch-bound Murray’s opposite side and perform the same task. In Arabic. (Murray claimed, in translation-delayed English, that he’s got some quad and calf issues that his bulky compression garments are taking care of.)
Murray, pressed for an explanation of his two companions’ presence, deadpanned that he’s just trying to help out with Kimmel’s international appeal, and only nodded along patiently as Kimmel explained that, since only Kimmel’s questions are being double-translated, it’s not that much of a help. Never dropping the bit, Murray only nudged his straight-faced interpreters from time to time to keep things rolling, leaving Kimmel thoroughly and gratifyingly flummoxed throughout. As to whether noted Francophone Murray also actually speaks Arabic, well, the internet doesn’t say. He did spend time filming the indifferently received 2015 comedy Rock The Kasbah in Afghanistan, but that same internet search reveals that only about one percent of the people there speak Arabic (main languages Dari and Pashto), so it remains one of those Bill Murray-related goofs that may never be answered.
Murray (again, with pauses for translation) did sort-of clear up a few of Kimmel’s other questions. Yes, he’s probably in the new Ant-Man movie, although, despite having seemingly spilled the beans in a German magazine interview last week, Murray claimed, “Well, I’m not supposed to say.” (He did admit that that’s his Chicago accent proclaiming “Flame on!,” in a 1975 Fantastic Four radio drama, though.) He also confirmed that he and auteur pal Wes Anderson have just completed filming the director’s French Dispatch follow-up film (whose top secret title, Asteroid City, Murray also casually spoiled in a separate interview), bringing the pair’s collaboration number up to ten films. Murray did confess (or joke) that he’s never seen Bottle Rocket, the one Anderson film he’s not in. And, in closing, Murray also confirmed the thought-apocryphal story about busting in on a David Letterman doctor visit. “Well, I have no idea why this is still funny, but it is,” concluded Kimmel, with the stone-faced Murray, referring to his equally in-on-the-gag companions, responding, “Yeah, they don’t either.”