Exclusive Interview: Paul Feig Talks Ghostbusters

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No one has to tell director Paul Feig that he’s treading on hallowed ground with his reboot of the 1984 classic Ghostbusters. “I get it,” Feig says, regarding the trepidation that some fans feel toward the very idea of redoing the film.

“Ghostbusters is one of my favorite movies,” said the director during a recent interview with us. “And if I wasn’t involved with the reboot and heard that a reboot was being made, I wouldn’t be happy about it. For some people, Ghostbusters represents a fondly-remembered piece of their childhood, their adolescence, and I’m completely sympathetic to those feelings.”

Making a female-driven Ghostbusters is compatible with the rest of Feig’s film career, which has seen him score at the box office with female-led hits like Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy.

“The idea I had, for rebooting Ghostbusters, was to tell the story with funny ladies,” says Feig. “Getting these funny women together, developing the characters, and their technology, creating the same kind of camaraderie and chemistry that existed with the guys in the 1984 film—that was exciting to me.”

In May, while Feig was but putting the finishing touches on the reboot, I had the chance to sit down with him for an exclusive interview. We discussed his long history with the project, the challenge of reigniting the Ghostbusters franchise, and the rise of the Ghostbusters girls.

Check it out below, and enjoy.

When did you first become aware of the possibility of Sony bringing Ghostbusters back to life as a feature film?

Paul Feig: It started in 2008, when I was working on television; I was working on The Office, and two of the writers on the show were hired to write a third Ghostbusters film. At that point, I did not have much of a film career; I had done a couple of movies, which didn’t do well at the box office, so I wasn’t even in the picture as far as doing a Ghostbusters sequel. I could only dream of getting that opportunity, which is all that it was at that time.

When did you first become involved?

Paul Feig: A couple of years ago, while I was filming Spy in Budapest, I received a call from Ivan Reitman, who told me that he was interested in doing another Ghostbusters film, and that he had a script for a third one. As excited as I was to receive a call from Ivan Reitman, and to be able to talk with him about Ghostbusters, I was nervous about the idea of doing a sequel. When I read the script, I liked it, but I knew it wasn’t right for me, so I turned it down, very politely of course.

Then I had a meeting at Sony with Amy Pascal, who was running the studio at the time, and she asked me why no one, why no comedy filmmakers, wanted to touch the Ghostbusters project. That’s when I went into the whole thing about it being sacred territory, a hallowed classic, along with the fact that none of the other original actors, like Bill Murray, wanted to do it. The project, the script, involved a new team of Ghostbusters, who were being trained by the original members. It just didn’t feel right to me.

How did you make the project your own?

Paul Feig: Amy convinced me, during our conservation, that there was a great concept there, somewhere, waiting to be brought to life, and that I just needed to come up with the right way to do it, the right take. That’s when the thought of putting funny ladies in the roles entered my mind, which isn’t surprising, given my previous films, all of which have been female-driven. But it made sense to me. I thought that doing a film with funny women would be interesting, more interesting than any other concept I could think of.

How did the story develop from there?

Paul Feig: When I mentioned the idea of making the Ghostbusters women to Amy and the studio, their first thought was that the women were the daughters of the characters from the first film. “No,” I said to them. “This is going to be a reboot.” I told them I wanted to create a whole new origin story and develop these characters, along with the technology they need to rely on.

Will the original actors, Bill Murray and others, be playing their characters from 1984 film, in their cameos?

Paul Feig: No. They’re different characters, and it was the biggest thrill to get them all, minus the late Harold Ramis, to agree to appear in the film. It was the happiest, smoothest shoot I’ve ever been involved with, and a big reason for that was having so many talented people around me, and so many funny ladies, who formed a close group during the filming.

What’s the biggest misconception you’ve read about this film on the Internet?

Paul Feig: That we’ve just redone the original script and inserted females into the roles—the original characters from the 1984 film. That’s something none of us had any interest in doing. Some people, like I said, are legitimately upset at having a classic film from their youth tinkered with, which is perfectly understandable, but there are others, however, who just hate the idea of female Ghostbusters, which is something I don’t understand.

WGTC: Are you anxious to make a second film?

Paul Feig: Obviously, that all depends on the box office performance, but what’s just as important is whether the fans are excited enough about this film for them to want a second one. If they’re into it though, I’m ready.

That concludes our interview, but we’d like to thank Paul very much for his time. Be sure to check out Ghostbusters when it hits theatres this Friday.