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How Bill Murray Won Christmas

If you want to get in the festive spirit but the mushy Love Actually makes it difficult to keep down the mince pies, and you can’t possibly watch Elf, then Netflix is here to help with a special gift. Let Bill Murray bring the holiday cheer with his one-off special A Very Murray Christmas, released worldwide on the on-demand streaming service today.

And it is quite the treat. Directed by Sofia Coppola, the hour programme is set at New York’s Carlyle Hotel, where everyone’s favourite 65-year-old is preparing to host a live, international variety broadcast. After a blizzard shuts down production on Christmas Eve, the actor tries to make it work by roping in friends, hotel employees, and anyone else who drops by. George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, and Amy Poehler make quite the starry serving but throw in additional cameos from Jenny Lewis, Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzman and suddenly we have a veritable hipster feast on our hands.
Those who fondly recall Murray taking on Roxy Music’s “More Than This” in a Tokyo karaoke booth in Lost In Translation, will be pleased to know that he’ll be lending his pipes to “Sleigh Bells” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

The full-time prankster, part-time actor will also be teaming up with French indie band Phoenix (whose singer Thomas Mars is married to Coppola) for the song “Alone On Christmas Day.” He has celebrated his festive special by appearing on the front of this month’s Vanity Fair posing on a pool inflatable wearing reindeer antlers.

But this isn’t the first time Bill Murray has brought us good tidings of great joy at Christmas. The special will only make him even more synonymous with the festive period. He’s this generation’s Bing Crosby. And it certainly makes sense. Everyone loves Christmas and everyone loves Bill; they’re totally compatible.
Scrooged, a way-more-fun version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, in which Murray stars as a miserly TV exec, has been entertaining people throughout December since 1988. And imagine if he’d played the titular Bad Santa, which he was lined up for until filming for Lost In Translation forced him to pass it up.

His surname might lend itself easily to Christmas puns, but Coppola was hardly the first to make a play on Murray/Merry. Last year Instagram was filled with people posting a charming picture of a topless Bill, red scarf wrapped around his neck, wishing them a ‘Murray Christmas’.

At the Netflix show's premiere in New York on Wednesday night, the man of the moment even offered some tips about how to handle the festive season. “If you go to a party, I think the most important thing is to hydrate,” Murray told New York magazine. “If you hydrate, then the party can last a long time. If you don’t hydrate, then other people have to deal with getting you home. And for my most preferred playlist, I really like to shuffle. I think it’s important to shuffle.”

Brighter than the star of Bethlehem, and cuddlier than Santa, we can’t think of anyone we’d rather spend Christmas with.