Behind the Scenes: Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters 21

Ghostbusters arrived in theaters on the same June day in 1984 as Gremlins. My family made the Sophie’s Choice-esque decision to see Gremlins and I had to wait for VHS to watch Bill Murray and company do battle with a giant marshmallow sailor hell bent on destroying Manhattan. Thirty years have now passed, which has inspired a glut of Ghostbusters retrospectives, including an excellent oral history by Entertainment Weekly.

Below are a few tidbits of Ghostbusters trivia from EW’s article followed by a gallery of production stills, many of which come from Don Shay’s out-of-print book Making Ghostbusters. If that isn’t enough Ghostbusters, here are links to a trio of old Starlog features – an interview with Ernie “That’s a Pretty Big Twinkie” Hudson, an interview with director Ivan Reitman and a feature on the film’s special effects.

Dan Aykroyd’s original treatment – written with John Belushi and Eddie Murphy in mind – took place in the future and featured competing groups of Ghostbusters.

“We loved the idea of it, but the film seemed impossible to make. It was set in the future and there were lots of Ghostbusters. They were kind of blue-collar guys and half of it took place in another dimension. But it did have the concept of Ghostbusting, and it did have the marshmallow man. (Director) Ivan Reitman didn’t want to blow it off, because he thought there was something there.” – Ghostbusters associate producer Joe Medjuck

The role of Winston Zeddmore, played by Ernie Hudson, was originally much larger. The day before shooting began, Hudson received a new script that gave several of his character’s juiciest moments – getting slimed, conjuring the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man – to other actors.

“The character had an elaborate background: he was an Air Force major or something, demolitions guy. And the day before our first day of shooting, I got the new script, and the character was all gone. The character originally came in at the very beginning of the movie, like page 8. And now the character came in on page 68. So that was pretty devastating.” – Ernie Hudson

Rick Moranis’ role as Louis Tully was originally offered to John Candy.

“John Candy was supposed to be the neighbor down the hall, but he didn’t like the treatment that I had sent. He didn’t get it. He said, “Well, maybe if I played him as a German guy who had a bunch of German shepherd dogs.” I said, “Well, maybe you can do it with an accent, but I don’t think all that’s really necessary.” He basically passed, and I called up Rick Moranis who I knew in Toronto, and said, “Look, Rick, why don’t you take a look at this. I think it’s going to be good.” He read it in like one hour, called me up, and said, “Wow, please thank Candy for me. This is the greatest thing I ever read.” – director Ivan Reitman

The Movie Score
Making Ghostbusters by Don Shay
Branded in the 80s
John P’s Blog
Entertainment Weekly
Time Magazine
Ain’t It Cool News

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