Bill Murray Talks Turning Down 'Forrest Gump,' 'Philadelphia' Roles

Actor also tells Howard Stern that 'SNL' alum Bill Hader "probably did the best work anybody ever did on that show"

Bill Murray Credit: Splash/Corbis

Bill Murray opened up about a wide range of topics – including his early years at Saturday Night Live and his relationships with women – during a recent interview with Howard Stern on the DJ's SiriusXM program The Howard Stern Show. But in the most intriguing conversational detour, the comic actor commented on why he passed on a number of acclaimed film roles – including lawyer Joe Miller (a part secured by Denzel Washington) in Jonathan Demme's Oscar-decorated 1993 drama, Philadelphia, and Tom Hanks' iconic title role in Robert Zemeckis' 1994 epic, Forrest Gump.

Murray's been rumored to have rejected some surprisingly high-profile roles over the decades. But in the Stern conversation, available to stream above, the actor shed some more light on two of the biggest jaw-droppers. The actor is cagey at first with the details, but he notes that Stern is "warm with that one" in reference to Philadelphia, which he claims to have watched "about an hour ago." "It was on the back burner," he says. "I would have liked to have done that one."

As for Gump, Murray says he "did have conversations" about the role. "I think I had the original book and all that sort of stuff," he says, though he admits he's somehow managed to never see the movie.

Elsewhere, Murray talks about his friendships with Chevy Chase, David Letterman and SNL boss Lorne Michaels. During a reflection about his seminal stint on the sketch series, the conversation drifts toward the show's recent seasons – with Murray revealing his underdog pick as the greatest cast member ever.

"I think Bill Hader probably did the best work anyone ever did on that show," he says. "I think his attack on it – it took him a little while to get going, but when he got rolling, it was extraordinary. That group that he was in with Kristen Wiig. . . that group really had what that first group had. They had writing ability. And they were more actors than stand-up comedians."