Celebrate Bill Murray’s Birthday With 5 Characters He Almost Played

It’s not every day that Bill Murray turns 60. Just today. And it’s not every day he gets passed up for a movie role. But it’s happened before.

Yes, instead of knowing Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman, Carl Spackler, Ernie McCracken, Steve Zissou, Bobby Wiley and Tripper, we could’ve been quoting him all these years as a captain with the Rebel Alliance or a kindergarten teacher who doesn’t have a tumor.

Help us celebrate Murray’s 60th with five roles he was considered for but never signed onto, and what each film’s poster would have looked like if things had gone the other way.

Han Solo, “Stars Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” (1977)

Really? 1977-era Murray as reckless mercenary Han Solo? Alright, maybe the funny man could’ve been of great help to Luke and Obi Wan when rescuing Princess Leia. After all, George Lucas doesn’t know a thing about writing entertaining dialogue, so a few properly delivered smart-ass jokes here and there totally could’ve made that mission a little more endurable.

Boon, “Animal House” (1978)

“National Lampoon” writer Harold Ramis had a dream cast in mind when scripting “Animal House.” Too bad the actors didn’t. Ramis envisioned Chevy Chase as Otter, Dan Aykroyd as D-Day, John Belushi as Bluto, Brian Doyle-Murray as Hoover and Doyle-Murray’s younger brother Bill as Boon. Belushi was the only one who signed on to one of the greatest movies of all time, the smartest move of the guy’s short-lived career. Instead of Murray dragging out a relationship with his girlfriend Katy, Peter Riegert stepped in to do it. But hey, Murray made up for it with his first feature role the following year in “Meatballs,” another movie on that greatest of all time list.

Detective John Kimble, “Kindergarten Cop” (1990)

Thank goodness Murray didn’t land this role, because “Kindergarten Cop” would’ve been nothing without Arnold Schwarzenegger barking, “It’s not a tumor!” or “I’m a cop, you idiot!” Austrian accents, they’ll get you every time. Sure Murray could have run with the “stubborn police detective working undercover as a kindergarten teacher” thing, but again, Austrian accents. Love ‘em.

Buzz Lightyear, “Toy Story” (1995)

So if Murray would’ve signed on as the voice of Buzz Lightyear instead of Tim Allen, does that mean the spaceman action figure would’ve been less naive and more snide? We’ll never know. Then again, would we want to remember Murray as an astronaut rather than than a vintage-suit-wearing badger?

Willy Wonka, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005)

Aside from Gene Wilder, who else could’ve done Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka justice? Johnny Depp sure as hell didn’t. Just think of how awesome it would’ve been to watch Murray inject his sarcastic wit as everyone loses it as a boat passed through and he summoned for “Where the Buffalo Roam.”

Photos: LucasFilm, Universal, Imagine, Disney, Warner Bros.