“When you meet the hero, you sure know it”

From a New Yorker profile of Harold Ramis:

One afternoon, Ramis and I had lunch at a tavern near his office. He began talking about another star of his early films, Chevy Chase. “Do you know the concept of proprioception, of how you know where you are and where you’re oriented?” he asked. “Chevy lost his sense of proprioception, lost touch with what he was projecting to people. It’s strange, but you couldn’t write Chevy as a character in a novel, because his whole attitude is just superiority: ‘I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not.’ ”

Ramis said that he identified with Nathan Zuckerman, the alter ego in many of Philip Roth’s novels: “Watching other people having experiences I’m not going to have. But understanding, empathizing. Much as I want to be a protagonist, it doesn’t happen, somehow. I’m missing some tragic element or some charisma, or something. Weight. Investment.”

After a moment, he continued, “One of my favorite Bill Murray stories is one about when he went to Bali. I’d spent three weeks there, mostly in the south, where the tourists are. But Bill rode a motorcycle into the interior until the sun went down and got totally lost. He goes into a village store, where they are very surprised to see an American tourist, and starts talking to them in English, going ‘Wow! Nice hat! Hey, gimme that hat!’ ” Ramis’s eyes were lighting up. “And he took the guy’s hat and started imitating people, entertaining. Word gets around this hamlet that there’s some crazy guy at the grocery, and he ended up doing a dumb show with the whole village sitting around laughing as he grabbed the women and tickled the kids. No worry about getting back to a hotel, no need for language, just his presence, and his charisma, and his courage. When you meet the hero, you sure know it.”

He smiled. “Bill loves to get lost, to throw the map out the window and drive till you have no idea where you are, just to experience something new.” And you? “Oh, I’d be the one with the map. I’m the map guy. I’m the one saying to Bill, ‘You know, we should get back now. They’re going to be looking for us.’ ”

– from “Comedy First: How Harold Ramis’ Movies Have Stayed Funny For Twenty-Five Years” by Tad Friend, The New Yorker, April 19, 2004.

(pictures from billmurray.tumblr)



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