In an interview with Esquire’s Scott Raab, award-winning actor Robert Downey Jr. once recalled a time when his team was trying to contact (another) award-winning actor Bill Murray for a potential role in Iron Man, but no one could get in touch with him. In today’s age of expected accessibility, this was unusual.
Raab brought up Murray’s intentional inaccessibility in an interview with him:
SR: A lot of folks worry that if they aren’t available or don’t say yes, they’ll stop getting asked.
BM: If you keep saying yes, they’ll stop asking you, too. That’s a much more likely event. I think we’re all sort of imprisoned by — or at least bound to — the choices we make, and I think everyone in the acting business wants to make the right choices. You want to say no at the right time and you want to say yes more sparingly. I came out of the old Second City in Chicago. Chicago actors are more hard-nosed. They’re tough on themselves and their fellow actors. They’re self-demanding. Saying no was very important. Integrity is probably too grand a word, but if you’re not the voice of Mr. Kool-Aid, then you’re still free. You’re not roped in.
Saying, “Yes,” does not necessarily guarantee that you’ll constantly get more work. Murray understands the power of saying no.