Posted on Monday, July 18th, 2016 by Jack Giroux
Paul Feig and Katie Dippold first met around seven years ago. Dippold was writing for Parks and Recreation at the time when Feig directed “Pawnee Zoo,” the episode in which Leslie Knope arranges a wedding between two male penguins. Years later, when Dippold was hoping Feig would direct a spec script she wrote, titled The Heat, the two met for lunch. That meeting helped lead them to where they are today.
Feig and Dippold have made their biggest film yet with Ghostbusters. The reboot stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones as the team that’ll have to save New York City from the paranormal. At the press day, Dippold was kind enough to discuss with us how she and Feig put this new team together, the film’s cameos, working with Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd, and more.
Below, read our Katie Dippold interview.
How did you end up with this group of characters?
It’s all like a domino effect because it started with thinking: So, what’s different about now versus then? I thought how scientists don’t really believe in the paranormal anymore. There’s not really parapsychology departments in colleges, so what does that mean? What would that be like to be a scientist who believes in ghosts? Would you be ridiculed?
And so, then I thought, “OK. What if there is a scientist [Erin Gilbert] who did once believe in the paranormal, but tries to hide it because they are trying to prove themselves at a prestigious college?” And then I thought, “OK. So what would that mean if she wrote this book with a friend and that friend…” It’s like a divide, like friendship stories and splintering off. And that person [Abby Yates] has been pursuing it this whole time. They have been just diehard, just weirdo, just disheveled and doesn’t care what people say, like working in a shitty basement in a college.
And then, from there, it’s like, “OK. So she’s probably working with someone. What kind of person is she working with?” We thought someone even weirder than her [Jillian Holtzmann], so someone just kind of outside the box, doesn’t care at all that they are in this basement, thinks it’s delightful, and is kind of the opposite of Erin, where this person is trying to do the straight and narrow, and this person just delights in the weird and would see someone like Kristen’s character and kind of poke her, just like do things.
What elements from the original Ghostbusters influenced you the most?
First and foremost, just to try to capture the spirit of it, just that tone. I think, like, four grounded, real characters who happen to be funny dealing with insane situations that are both scary and just ridiculous. And there’s something just so fun and joyous about that experience.
And so, wanting to have a new story, new characters, but kinda keep that same vibe. I talk about this a lot, but I also think a big part of why the movie is so fun is because I think, you know, Dan Aykroyd’s family was super into the paranormal. They wrote books on it. You could just feel his enthusiasm and his excitement. It’s a very positive experience.
And, in terms of the details, we just debated what other things to bring back or not. I can see an argument for people seeing it and being like there’s too many [references], maybe too many that it takes people out of it. And I would totally get that. But, at the same time, just as fans, we just really wanted to see those things again on the big screen. It was just exciting to us.
I don’t know. I’m kinda glad we leaned towards being the fans we are versus just trying so hard to make it something different. Because at the end of the day, it’s all because we love the original.
I’m curious about the nod to Harold Ramis. How much did you and Paul discuss how to properly pay tribute to him?
I knew we were going to try to figure out something. I didn’t know what. I remember we were looking around Columbia, just seeing all the different busts and statues. First, we did location scouting in New York before we realized we were going to shoot in Boston. And then just seeing all the busts and statues everywhere, it was like, “Oh…” Like, it just kinda clicked. That was always really rewarding to everyone. And his family came to set a couple of times, and they were so lovely and just really supportive. He has this amazing really kind, lovely family, so that was really nice.
Not knowing whether he’s going to be interested or even appear on the set, how did you write a cameo for Bill Murray?
We just wrote the scene, and just thought it could be a fun scene, even if maybe he didn’t show up. But we were always hoping he would do it and just didn’t know until like the day before whether or not he was going to do it. It’s like the mythology [about Bill Murray] that’s been created. We sent him the script and then just waited for such a long time.
And so, to the point that I felt like I couldn’t even fully enjoy the day he got there, because I was so afraid something was going to happen that would stop it, like whether he’d get called for an emergency or the film was going to melt. We’re not even filming on that kind of film anymore, but still, I kept thinking, “What about the film?” I was just gripping my chair, just sweating. Then he was lovely and the crew was so excited. It was a really cool day.
Do you miss any scenes or jokes that got cut?
There was so much stuff cut. Even the first cut is four and a half hours long, and that’s with the streamlined script. We tried so many different versions and set pieces and different scenes. I’ve never written so much original stuff for an idea that already existed.
Are there any particular Holtzmann jokes we didn’t see in the film that you recall?
There are lots of stuff in early drafts that just got cut for time, like bits where they’d be running after ghosts and Holtzmann would be like, “Get down, get down!” And then she gets down and Holtzmann would just keep running, just like to find ways to fuck with her. There wasn’t a ton of time to do stuff like that, but to me, it was like someone who enjoys being outside the box, doesn’t get affected in the same ways as other people, and also just screw people, pretty much.
Which scene took the most revising?
The set pieces a lot, because I feel like one of the two things that were changed the most was the rock show set piece. I feel like there were many different versions of that because we weren’t sure exactly what we wanted to do. And also, the whole bad guy plot has gone through many different versions.