When Bill Murray met John Byrum

Since 2005, I’ve been lucky enough to have the help of the Director of The Razor’s Edge, John Byrum.

He has offered plenty of insights into the production of the film, but one question I had never asked until now is how he first met Bill Murray.

“Bill and I are both from the North Shore suburbs of Chicago. Grew up just a few miles apart, but I never heard of him until one night in LA, Jessica Harper and I were watching the then fabled TV show Saturday Night Live and he was making his very first appearance as Chevy Chase’s replacement in the cast.

Bill Murray and John Byrum, England 1983

John Byrum and Bill Murray shooting The Razor’s Edge in England, 1983

He introduced himself to America in the most unique Lenny Bruce/Hunter Thompson stream of consciousness way we’d ever seen. A couple nights later we were having dinner down at the Original Pantry, a unique restaurant down in the skid row of Los Angeles that’s open 24 hours a day and is staffed only by ex-convicts. In walks Bill and a couple fellow cast mates. What they were doing on the West Coast, I don’t remember, they all had to do another SNL in New York a few days later.

Bill came over to our table and introduced himself — in hindsight just probably hitting on movie star Jessica — but that’s how we met and became bi-coastal friends. He was one of the most unique people I’d ever met. In the next few years I’d send him scripts and asked if wanted to do them, it was always “nope”.

A couple years later I was writing Razor’s Edge, the phone rings at 4:am, wakes me up and it’s Bill, says that’s the movie he wants to do! By then he’d become a big star.


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