‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ director explains the movie’s biggest cameo

Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Columbia Pictures

It would be an understatement to say that a lot of fans had been left feeling burned by Paul Feig’s wildly polarizing reboot, but Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife finally arrived last month to give longtime supporters of the supernatural comedy franchise the sequel they’d been waiting for since 1989.

A Rotten Tomatoes score of 62% was significantly offset by a 95% user rating, making it perfectly clear that audiences couldn’t get enough of the filmmaker’s deft blend of nostalgia-driven legacy story and opening installment of what looks likely to brand new series of films.

Reitman has been vocal in admitting that Egon Spengler was his favorite member of the team when he was a kid, and even though Harold Ramis sadly passed away in 2014, his fingerprints are all over Afterlife. Speaking to Empire, the four-time Academy Award nominee explained how Afterlife‘s biggest surprise cameo came together.

“The first person that ever read the script was my father, and after my father it was the Ramis family. It was Harold’s widow, Erica, and daughter Violet, who I grew up knowing — we were both on the set of the original back in ’83. I talked to them about what we wanted to do, how we were going to do it. They came to set, and they viewed visual effects that came to the editing room.

They’re the first people to ever actually see the movie. So they were part of this movie from start to finish and I think they were aware of how much I wanted to honor Harold. Egon was my favorite Ghostbuster. This is a Spengler story, and this movie is dedicated to him in every way. So the real question was how do we pull this off? Anyone who enjoys movies has now seen examples of virtual characters that really work and virtual characters that are difficult to look at. It’s one thing to see in the middle of a movie, where it kind of comes and goes.

It’s another thing if the whole climax of the movie will be decided on whether or not you believe these two people are hugging each other, that a daughter is forgiving her father and saying goodbye to him. And that these Ghostbusters, who have gone through this misunderstanding and been broken apart, get to stand next to each other one more time and bust a ghost.”

Even though Ramis’ family approved, there are definitely still some ethical questions over using CGI to bring an actor who’d died seven years previously to life for a guest spot in a blockbuster movie, but given that neither the comedy legend’s nearest and dearest, Sony, the Reitmans or the fans disapproved, it was evidently handled in exactly the right way.