Exclusive Interview: Kate McKinnon Talks Ghostbusters

It seems like just yesterday when the first Ghostbusters film was released in 1984, if you happened to be eleven years old at the time. For those kids of the 1980s though who refuse to let go of that era, here’s a terrifying dose of reality: Kate McKinnon, the star of the Ghostbusters reboot, was less than six months old when the first film was released.

In Sony’s upcoming reboot of the beloved property, McKinnon plays Jillian Holtzmann, a kooky nuclear engineer whose responsible for creating the weapons used by her fellow Ghostbusters, who are played by Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig.

Last month during the film’s press day, I had the chance to speak to McKinnon about her role in the highly anticipated reboot. Among other things, we discussed the life of a proton wrangler, her love of science, and the sense of awe and responsibility she feels in wearing the Ghostbusters uniform.

Check it out below, and enjoy.

You were a baby when the first film was released. How would you describe your relationship then with Ghostbusters, the first film, throughout your life?

Kate McKinnon: I think my mother took me to see it when I was a baby. It came out the year I was born, so it’s always had special significance for me, even before I was cast in the film. I watched it throughout my childhood; it was a big film for me when I was growing up.

What attracted you to the reboot?

Kate McKinnon: Along with being asked to join Saturday Night Live, this, getting this role, was the biggest thing that has ever happened in my career. When I heard that Paul Feig was directing an all-female Ghostbusters, I was prepared to do anything to be a part of this, to be a part of what sounded like an incredible project. Then I met with Paul; we talked more about life than we did about Ghostbusters and the story, and I guess he liked me and thought I was funny. That’s how I became one of the Ghostbusters.

What about the role of Jillian? What did you like about her?

Kate McKinnon: In terms of the character, playing a scientist is not something many actresses, especially actresses with a comedic background, get to play. Then there’s the legacy of the first film, which we were all aware of when we were filming. We wanted to pay homage to the first film while creating something different.

Did the science also appeal to you?

Kate McKinnon: Like Jillian, I was obsessed with science when I was younger; until I reached high school I was always playing with circuit boards, which I would take apart, then put back together; I was fascinated with circuit boards and electronics, which is the same environment I found when I arrived on the set, which took me back in time to when I was a science geek, obsessing over diodes and transistors. The science in the film is very impressive, very solid. The biggest similarity between the two films is the tone of them: our film has that same mixture of action and comedy and science fiction stuff, and there’s lots of science, which is Jillian’s life.

How would you describe Jillian?

Kate McKinnon: She’s the engineer of all of the machines and the weapons that the Ghostbusters use in the film; she’s the proton wrangler, which is her title, and she knows everything about weapons, the kinds of weapons that will be effective against the ghosts and the slime creatures. Jillian’s very odd; all of the characters are, of course, odd to varying degrees, but Jillian is the oddest of the group. She wants to be friendly, to get along with people, to be more sociable, but it doesn’t turn out well, in terms of how she communicates with other people. That’s a product of her job title.

What was the biggest challenge in making the film and playing the role?

Kate McKinnon: I was a bit intimidated, initially, at working with Kristen, Leslie and Melissa, because they’re such wonderful comedians, and I wasn’t sure if I could keep up with their pace, even though I’ve worked with Leslie on SNL and Kristen and Melissa have appeared on SNL as hosts. They’re my comedic heroes, so the challenge, on Ghostbusters, was to get myself to improvise alongside them. Once I got over that, we became a very close group.

Are you excited about the possibility of doing a sequel?

Kate McKinnon: I haven’t heard anyone say the word yet, but I love the character of Jillian so much and I love working with the other girls, so yes, absolutely.

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