1984’s Ghostbusters was one of the biggest hits of the 80s and its instant success meant a sequel was inevitable. Yet it took almost five years for Ghostbusters II to hit screens, with the end result generally being considered a much lesser movie than its predecessor. Part of the reason for the delay was simply that it was hard to get the team back together, with Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Ackroyd and Ernie Hudson all pursuing solo careers in the interim.
Murray was an especially tough nut to crack. Peter Venkman was the most popular character in the original, yet the star decided to step away from acting for four years to study philosophy and history at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Murray recently received the Maltin Modern Master Award at the 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival and discussed his career, hinting that he was lured back to Ghostbusters under false pretences.
“I was in absolutely no hurry. I probably thought that the only reason anyone would want another one was just to make money. And I was probably the most reluctant. Someone outfoxed me anyway. I don’t know if Ivan set it up, but they got us all back together in a room, and really, we hadn’t been together in a room since the movie came out and it was just really, really fun to be together. We were really funny together. Those are some really wonderful, really funny guys and girls. Sigourney [Weaver] and Annie Potts are some really spectacular women and funny as hell. They got us all together and they pitched a story idea that was really great. I thought, “Holy cow, we could make that work.”
That initial idea could have been related to the original sequel plans, known as Ghostbusters: The Seed. Intentionally designed as a complete departure from the first movie, the story would have seen Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barrett kidnapped, taken to Scotland and imprisoned in a subterranean fairy kingdom. Ackroyd envisaged the Ghostbusters arriving there via a two thousand mile long pneumatic tube that they travelled in for three days, though the script was abandoned for being too bizarre. However, it’s precisely those surreal qualities that may have attracted Murray.
“It ended up not being the story they wrote. They got us in the sequel under false pretenses. Harold had this great idea, but by the time we got to shooting it, I showed up on set and went, “What the hell is this? What is this thing?” But we were already shooting it, so we had to figure out how to make it work. That was a great bunch of people. Just to be together was great.”
Of course, the actor is confirmed to return in the delayed Ghostbusters: Afterlife. After years of rumors, he was finally convinced to strap his proton pack back on for another adventure, even if his role in it is supporting rather than starring. And during the same interview, he was positive about the project, saying it was strange to feature in a movie directed by his friend’s son Jason Reitman (Murray even attended Jason’s bar mitzvah), but that it’s closer in tone to the original than any of the follow-ups. And as for that proton pack?
“It was physically painful. Wearing those packs is extremely uncomfortable. We had batteries the size of batteries. They now have batteries the size of earrings. It’s still a really heavy thing to wear, all the time. … Usually, when something has a very high misery quotient, something comes of that and some quality is produced that, if you can capture it and project it, comes on the screen and affects you. I think it comes out sometime in the fall. They’ve delayed it for a year or a year and a half, but I’m glad they did. It will be worth seeing.”
Ghostbusters: Afterlife will hit theaters on November 11th, 2021.