They’ll Never Believe You: The Legend of Bill Murray

A guy is refilling his orange soda at a movie theater when a stranger’s hand reaches over, grips the cup, and sips liberally from the fizzy drink. The hand belongs to Bill Murray, and before the guy has a chance to react, Murray dashes off down the carpeted hallway, yelling over his shoulder, “They’ll never believe you!” This was the first version I’d encountered of what is either part of the mythopoeia surrounding Urban Knight Bill Murray or an honest recounting of something the actor has been doing for years. That is, it was the first They’ll Never Believe You story I’d ever heard. I had no trouble buying it at the time—strange enough to be trustworthy and in keeping with what I knew to be demonstrably true about the Caddyshack star (I once read in a Swedish newspaper that Murray had been arrested in downtown Stockholm piloting a golf cart in a bathrobe, drunk, down a major avenue). Besides, wasn’t it just like Bill Murray to call attention to the apocryphal nature of fame in a harmless, rascally way? And even if “they” didn’t believe you, wasn’t he still gifting you a fail-proof party yarn? Fact or fiction, I wanted to believe.

Other They’ll Never Believe You stories started cropping up. The details changed but each anecdote shared some basic elements: Murray approaches lone stranger, does or says something unexpected, annoying, or frightening that’s quickly forgiven upon ID, absconds to the tune of four now-famous words. In my hunt for more Murray fodder, I even found a weirdly poetic blog dedicated to They’ll Never Believe You stories. Then, as a relatively new addition to the BlackBook team, everything reached an in-print coda with the publication of our June/July issue, in which Nick Haramis references the They’ll Never Believe You phenomenon, first by mentioning the version “that gets bandied about more than others,” then, astonishingly, by getting Murray to imply on record that perhaps it is all true. My mind was blown. What had transitioned from surely real to surely rumor had reemerged as something far more perplexing.

The question became, Is this simply Murray lore the actor’s okay with contributing to the proliferation of, or has the comedian errant actually been saying this to people, all over the city and probably in other countries (in other languages!) for years? If so, what’s his intention? Has he been waiting, like an SNL serial killer, for someone to piece together the clues? Is this even funny?

Tell us your Bill Murray stories, speculations, theories. Apparently everyone has them, and I want to make up my mind about whether he’s a genius or just drunk.

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