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SYFY WIRE Ghostbusters: Afterlife

‘We are a man down’ - Bill Murray says Ghostbusters: Afterlife story acknowledges the late Harold Ramis

By Benjamin Bullard

When Ghostbusters: Afterlife passes the specter-smashing baton to a new generation of intrepid young hunters, it’ll be doing so without the presence of the late, great Harold Ramis. When Ramis passed away in 2014, the then-untitled movie’s early script had to be reworked to account for his absence as OG Ghostbuster Egon Spengler.

With a key piece missing from the original Ghostbusters lineup, though, Spengler’s absence will itself be a sort of presence that fans feel when the new movie arrives this July 10, according to fellow slime fighter Peter Venkman — aka, Bill Murray

In a far-ranging Vanity Fair article about a recent visit at the Afterlife set, Murray said that, while Ramis can no longer be there in person, he’ll definitely be a part of the movie — no pun — in spirit. “Well, we are a man down. That’s the deal,” said a reflective Murray. “And that’s the story that we’re telling, that’s the story they’ve written.” 

The VF article also confirms that everyone who’s coming back from the original 1980s Ghostbusters movies — from Annie Potts to Dan Aykroyd to Ernie Hudson to Sigourney Weaver — will indeed be playing their familiar original characters, and not simply walking on for fan-service cameos (like Aykroyd’s cab-driving character in director the 2016 Paul Feig reboot).

Even if that’s the case, though, director Jason Reitman says that the story’s main focus will definitely be on the younger generation, affirming a hunch that many fans felt after the movie’s first trailer landed. But, he explained, there’s a really cool reason for that: he wanted to explore that sense of discovery that a 12 year-old kid might feel if they stumbled across a piece of half-forgotten, supernatural-leaning tech.

“Before I ever thought I could make a Ghostbusters film, the image of a 12-year-old girl carrying a proton pack popped into my head and just wouldn’t leave,” he explained. “…I’m floored by the idea of what it would be like to find a proton pack in your grandparents’ basement. What would that discovery reveal about who you are and what adventures you’re about to go on?”

Above all, there’s a balancing act between the nostalgia factor of luring in old-school  fans while setting the stage with new characters who, like many new fans in 2020, are discovering the franchise for the first time, said Reitman. Telling stories in the way he grew up hearing and living inside them — on the set of the older two films with his famous father, director Ivan Reitman — is, he said, at the heart of how he approaches the idea of endearing the Ghostbusters universe to a whole new audience.

“If I think about who I’m making this movie for, it’s my father,” he explained. “We all know what it’s like to be told stories by our parents. I’m really honored to get a chance to tell one back to him from the world he brought to life.”