ghostbusters city

How involved was Ivan Reitman during the writing process?

Ivan produced it, so he would weigh in throughout the process. He would read the drafts and give notes. But he also gave Paul space to direct his own movie. You want a director that wants to direct their own movie.

It was always great to get his feedback, because he just knows it. He did it. He’s the director of the original Ghostbusters. And then Dan Aykroyd would also read drafts and give notes and feedback and pitch things, like pitch equipment stuff and how to make things sound more Ghostbusters-y, which was like a ridiculous email to get. Like, “This is what Dan Aykroyd has to say.”

I have to ask, how did Andy Garcia’s line about being compared to the mayor from Jaws come about?

There was actually an alt writer…No, no, no. We have trusted friends that will pitch on alt jokes and stuff like that. And that came from a writer, Owen, who pitched that joke for that. It was so fun. There are so many takes of Andy Garcia doing that. He doesn’t even laugh. He just immediately starts screaming. It’s so funny.

How much research did you do? Even with the physicist’s dialogue, did you and Paul Feig try to make it as accurate as possible? 

We did so much research. One of my favorite times in this…I always like the very beginning of a project where we’re just daydreaming; it’s just fun. So I asked to go to New York because I wanted to go do some writing at Columbia and stuff. And then while I was there, I asked if they could set me up to meet with a couple physicists to just kinda get the basics of what we’re talking about, because it’s been a long time since I’ve been at school and I barely paid attention then.

So I met with two physicists, both named Bart. So we’ll call them The Barts. I kind of talked to them about basic stuff. We were talking about, “Is there a way to make this make sense?” And they would be like, “Well, no, because that’s not real.” I actually still have my list of questions that I brought for them. I should actually pull that out at some point because there were some that were pretty ridiculous.

I also remember they were really funny. I remember I was trying to make one thing work, like one idea we had work scientifically, just make it sound real. I remember somehow the conversation transitioned to them explaining to me the term MacGuffin and them telling me about writing. I was like, “Well, this is taking a turn!”

[Laughs.] They scientifically broke down what a MacGuffin is.

[Laughs.] Yeah! They were really nice and it was a really fun day. And after that, we had this great props team. And it was really important to Paul to make it all real. Everything is pretty legit science, or maybe not. [Laughs.] In my mind it is. I have no idea. We’ll see.

And then we also had this guy, James, from MIT, who anytime we wrote anything we’d send it to him, and he would help us prove it or help with the language to make it more legit. He was awesome. He was a real lifesaver. I have no idea what it sounded like to him reading what we sent him, like if it all sounded like complete nonsense. I actually have no idea.

It was also really hard, too, because you also still want it to sound fun. With the original, first and foremost, it was all made up, but it was all just really charming. So struggling to learn all these things, but then also still like, “Well, wait. It’s got to be charming!” That was a very difficult thing.

Would you and Paul Feig often write together or over email?

We email a lot. We both are very similar in that we like talking and brainstorming and then going off on our own and thinking and then writing by ourselves, and then sending stuff back and forth. In the beginning, it was such a crazy time because it was right after the Sony hack happened. At the same time, we were getting hit with stuff on Twitter. And so, we were so afraid of stuff getting leaked that he would write something and save it on a flash drive and his assistant would drive it to my house. And I would take it and download it on my computer. And we’d go back and forth that way. And there were all these different rules, like not being on Wi-Fi at a public place. We were so afraid.

And then, at some point, we just got real relaxed. Like, at one point Paul was like, “Ah, fuck it. I’ll just email you the script.”

Ghostbusters TV Spots

You mentioned your experience on Twitter. Are you able to let some of the crazier responses to the movie roll off your shoulder? 

I knew that this was going to be very hard. I knew that I was probably setting myself up for a very painful period when the movie came out. I think the original is just so special and I think so many things came together to make this very special thing. But I just couldn’t say no. I didn’t think that people would be so angry so early.

But I totally get a lot of people just wanted a sequel. I totally get that because as a fan I would love a sequel. But I don’t know…I guess, on the other hand, I don’t know how many people I would trust to tell me what happened to those characters. It feels more respectful to leave those characters alone. I don’t want some new writer telling me what happened to Venkman. It’s too important to me. And I feel like everyone has their own ideas in their head what they are doing now. I don’t want someone to explain to me what happened to Egon.

So, I don’t know. I truly thought that this would be a little bit easier. But I get the disappointment about it not being a sequel. It’s still kinda hard because it’s a really special movie and I get it. I think that’s been really hard to make that happen for a lot of reasons.

And then there are lots of people that just hate women. [Laughs.] I think it’s a smaller group, because I don’t think the two should be lumped together at all. But then there is that group. I bring this up a lot, so I’m sorry if I sound like a broken record, but my favorite was a guy who was sincerely worried for us. He tweeted something that was like, “Listen. I’m not sexist. I’m telling you I’m just worried. I don’t think women can do that kind of comedy or action.” I was like, “Oh, thank you for your concern!” [Laughs.] I thought that was really funny.

It was a bummer. At the end of the day, the whole goal was a fun movie with nods to the original. If you like Ghostbusters, you might enjoy seeing these nods to the original and seeing this new story. If you like people busting ghosts…

But the crazier the tweet now just kind of makes me chuckle when someone is super angry.

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Ghostbusters is now in theaters.

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