Toronto celebrates 'Bill Murray Day' with free screenings
Published Friday, September 5, 2014 7:41AM EDT Last Updated Friday, September 5, 2014 6:34PM EDT
TORONTO -- On Bill Murray Day in Toronto, fans lined up at daybreak for tickets to his classic comedies and dug deep into the cherished actor's filmography for costume ideas.
Though the Toronto International Film Festival was celebrating the wry comic legend's career with free public screenings of "Stripes," "Groundhog Day" and "Ghostbusters," his followers chose to pay homage to a diverse range of his roles.
At the first "Stripes" screening, costumes referenced Murray's performances in "Broken Flowers" (with a black-and-red sweatsuit and a withered bouquet), "Space Jam" (a Tune Squad tank top) and "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" (a red knit cap and a striped shirt with epaulettes).
To inspire the creative duds, TIFF dangled free tickets to the premiere screening of "St. Vincent" at the Princess of Wales Theatre to the best-dressed.
But given Murray's proclivity for unscheduled public mischief, many were predicting -- or just praying -- that the 63-year-old Oscar nominee might make an appearance at the afternoon screening of "Ghostbusters," which already boasted a Q-and-A with director Ivan Reitman.
Reitman, of course, directed Murray in four movies total including their debut collaboration "Meatballs" in 1979 ("Stripes" followed two years later), and he says there's no mystery to Murray's abiding appeal.
"He's beloved," Reitman said Friday morning in an interview at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. "Yes he's eccentric, but he's eccentric in a really lovable way. And there's a sense that he's never sold out, that he's been very true to himself.
"And we sort of admire that," he added of Murray, who famously has never had a publicist and fired his agent in recent years. "We wish we could conduct our lives that way, in that sort of eclectic, very strict way -- and he has.
"So I think he's a perfect candidate to have a day."
The dark comedy "St. Vincent" casts Murray as a cantankerous coot who strikes up an unlikely friendship with the lonely adolescent boy next door. It features an all-star cast headlined by Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O'Dowd and Terrence Howard.
Murray and the rest of his co-stars were expected to be on hand for the gala premiere, but fans were on high-alert elsewhere in the city.
After all, Murray's known for surprise impromptu public appearances, dropping in on strangers' bachelor parties, private karaoke singalongs and house parties.
Just this past weekend he was reportedly ripping tickets for the St. Paul Saints, a Minnesota minor-league baseball franchise.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs through Sept. 14.