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'Ghostbusters: Afterlife' director reveals his late father Ivan Reitman's secret cameo
Here's a hint: keep an eye on Venkman's hands in the film's climax.
Turns out Ivan Reitman (who sadly passed away last weekend at the age of 75) not only produced Ghostbusters: Afterlife, he also makes a secret cameo appearance in the final confrontation with Olivia Wilde's Gozer. Breaking down a number of the film's secrets, Easter eggs, and callbacks for Empire Magazine's April 2022 issue, director and co-writer Jason Reitman revealed that the project prompted his father to put on a Ghostbusters jump-suit for the very first time since the franchise began in 1984.
"The most important one for me, for a long time, was that when Venkman turns on his proton pack, the close-up of the hand is my father's hand," Jason said, adding that they shot the close-up after Bill Murray had already filmed his speaking parts and gone home. "He'd never worn one [of the costumes] before. That was really special."
As we now know, Afterlife concludes with a final reunion of all the original Ghostbusters team, including a CGI recreation of Egon Spengler (since the man who played him, Harold Ramis, died in 2014). It's an emotional sendoff for this beloved cast of characters that ultimately leaves the door open for new adventures spearheaded by a younger lineup of spirit-busting heroes.
"I think [Jason] was very brave to take the whole thing on. I had it much easier than Jason," Ivan said at a New York Comic Con panel attended by SYFY WIRE in October 2021. "Jason had to really be the captain of this very large enterprise and find some new fresh way of doing the story. The fact that I was there [I] had a word to say every once in a while. We tried not to fight and we fought a little bit ... But we were passionate and just tried to find a way to control the passion, so that the best things happened."
You'll want to check out Empire for Jason's full blow-by-blow of everything you might have missed on your first (or even second) viewing of the movie. Some of the nods are so obscure, you may not even know what to look for until it's spelled out for you. "Our set decorators were extraordinary," Jason added. "They worked the hardest at trying to fill the film with little objects you would have seen in the past."
One extremely deep-cut Easter egg is a straightened slinky hiding out somewhere in the frame. Only the most hardcore of Ghostbusters zealots will recognize this as "a reference to Egon being asked if he had any toys, and he said, 'I had a slinky, but I straightened it.'"
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is now available on Digital, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD.