'Ghostbusters' Director Reveals Scoop on Casting His Crew, Cameos and What Got Him Choked Up
By John Boone
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"We've always wanted to do another Ghostbusters," Ivan Reitman, who directed the original film, revealed on Wednesday during a fan event to debut the new trailer for the reboot.
"We got very lucky, because a man came along, a very talented man, who had a terrific idea for how to do it fresh and special and make it the kind of event the first movie was," he continued.
That man is Paul Feig, who helmed hits such as Bridesmaids and Spy. Feig told a crowd of Ghostheads -- that's what the fans call themselves -- dressed in homemade jumpsuits and proton packs that he has been a lifelong fan of the franchise.
"I'd never seen something like this," he recalled. "That combined comedy with science with the supernatural with action, and I remember going, 'If someday I could do something like that, it’d be unbelievable...'"
After debuting the film's trailer for the very first time, Feig, Reitman, and co-writter Katie Dippold sat down for a Q&A and talked about casting the new crew, the controversy, and familiar faces.
On casting the new Ghostbusters: "When we wrote this, we didn't write it with any actors in mind," Feig said. "Then it was about two months of me going, 'OK, who are the perfect people for this?' And Melissa [McCarthy] was never a shoo-in. Everyone thinks Melissa was a shoo-in, she was not. I was just like, I need to get four distinct personalities for this."
"If you could see some of the lists of the people, it was crazy!" he teased, before explaining why he chose the four women he did. "Kristen [Wiig]'s this kind of vulnerable comedian, and then Melissa is a headstrong comedian. Then you've got Kate [McKinnon], who's just a weirdo nut, where you're like, 'Where did that come from?!' And Leslie [Jones] is this powerhouse, who comes at you. They mixed so well."
For what it's worth, the new cast has Reitman's seal of approval. "People love the original quartet, and it's very tough to come up with that kind of combination," he said. "I often talk about the moment I saw the original Ghostbusters walk down Madison Avenue for the first time, and there was a little tingle in my back and I thought, 'This is special!'...I got the same feeling when I saw these four women."
On controversy over the all-female cast: "The first movie worked because it had four of the funniest people," Feig deflected. "Honestly, I just want the funniest people. And the funniest people I know are these women. It should never be about that. Ghostbusters are for everybody."
Dippold chimed in: "Also, this story, if you placed men in those characters, you could do it. It's pretty genderless. I'm just happy that’s not the case, because I think these are the four funniest people for it."
On including nods to the original film: "Katie was very much like, 'I would be bummed if I didn't see the Ecto-1, if I didn’t see proton packs.' We wanted to make sure we give those nods, but then we make them our own," Feig revealed. "We give them their own original origin story. There are a lot of things you’ll be happy to see, but they’ll be coming at you in a slightly different way."
"Obviously you see Slimer makes a quick appearance," he says of the ghost's cameo in the trailer. "You can't do Ghostbusters without Slimer. I don't want to give stuff away, because we do it in a fun way, but you know the iconography. You know the things you love the most. Let's just say they mostly show up in one way or another, but hopefully in a way you weren’t expecting."
On Slimer: "We thought Slimer, as you may have heard, when Dan Aykroyd did the first treatment of this...he thought it was going to be a vehicle for [John] Belushi and himself," Reitman recalled. "When Belushi passed away, while we were working on this draft, we sort of humorously referred to him as the Belushi ghost. We didn't know what that meant, but we knew he was going to eat a lot."
"We never thought Slimer was going to be an iconographic character that was going to sit with audiences," he continued. "The fact that here we are talking about Slimer and being happy that he's going to be in the new movie is a wonderful surprise. I'm sure there are going to be characters like that that none of us are thinking about in this version of it that have the same kind of staying power."
What it was like to shoot under such scrutiny: "It was great. No pressure," Feig joked. "Lot of happiness from the public."
"I just want you guys to know, I really have such a love for this property," he told the fans in attendance. "What I really wanted to do was bring it to a new generation and give a new generation their own team, and when I see, what’s your name?" He turned to a young girl in the crowd dressed in a Ghostbusters uniform. "When I see little Grace here, and I get other pictures of these young girls making the new Ghostbuster costume and putting it on, it just chokes me up."
How they're feeling now that the trailer is out: "Relieved, for the moment," Feig replied. Reitman, on the other hand, simply said, "I'm confident."
Ghostbusters hits theaters on July 15.
Speaking of the OG ‘Busters, check out this throwback to the 1984 premiere: