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Film > Ghostbusters > Home Video > Ghostbusters 2014 Blu-ray - Who You Gonna Call: A Ghostbusters Retrospective
Ghostbusters 2014 Blu-ray
Who You Gonna Call: A Ghostbusters Retrospective

This is Part 1 of a two-part interview with Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd, conducted by Geoff Boucher. The second part appeared on the Ghostbusters II 2014 Blu-ray.

This is the full text transcript of everything that Geoff Boucher, Ivan Reitman, and Dan Aykroyd said in this interview. The transcription was done using computer software reading the subtitle track from the GB1 & GB2 4K UHD & Blu-Ray 5-Disc Set. IT HAS NOT BEEN CHECKED FOR ERRORS OR PROPERLY FORMATTED. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO THAT, FEEL FREE TO E-MAIL ME.

GEOFF: Hello. We're here at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California, to celebrate Ghostbusters, one of my favorite movies. Probably one of yours as well. Today we're here with the director, Ivan Reitman. We're here with cowriter and star, Dan Aykroyd, to talk about a movie that made us laugh, spooked us a little bit, and keeps us coming back for more.

[ghost screams]

If there's something strange

In your neighborhood

Who you gonna call?


If there's something weird

Ghostbusters is a movie that seems...

as alive and well today as when you guys made it.

Mr. Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd,

let's talk a little bit about Ghostbusters today.

When you guys look back on this movie, what do you see?

How does it-- How does it echo for you?

- I'll let the boss go first.

- Well--

This is the real boss.

Yeah, we--

It feels great. Look...

It was one of my favorite, sort of, professional experiences ever.

It was really one of my favorite personal experiences.

The writing process with Harold and Dan and the shooting in New York,

it was a remarkable time.

The city was very generous with us.

We were all feeling good.

And we had a sense, really from the very first day,

that we were doing something...


-[Boucher] Sure.

You know, you mentioned New York, and there's that classic image in my mind

of the Ghostbusters running down the street in New York.

That's what I think of.

It really was about the city in that time, wasn't it, Dan?

- The city is a character in the film.

-[Boucher] Yeah.

We were successful in conveying that.

And it was the Reagan years, of course,

and one political analyst said it was the perfect movie for the Reagan years

because our opposition was the EPA.

Here we were, we were new entrepreneurs, a start-up company, if you will.

And we were contravening environmental laws.

So nothing politically correct there about the Ghostbusters.

It very much hewed to the time in terms of what was going on in the city in the '70s,

the Dinkins-Koch years.

Sure. You know, and looking around here, we're obviously surrounded

by the iconography of this franchise.

Ivan, you were saying, too, it looks different to you.

It looks different than when you first saw it.

Well, I was just looking at the Ectomobile,

and I remember how complex it seemed when we first had it on the street

and we saw it all decked out, probably in a live environment.

Here, because we're on a stage, on a Hollywood stage,

its artificiality or its uniqueness

doesn't stand out quite the same way it did 30 years ago

as it drove downtown, where it was remarkable.

People stopped and started looking at it right away.

'Cause, of course, no one had ever heard of the movie,

so there wasn't any of the familiarity that exists today.

And talking about the way that, you know, it's lightning in a bottle.

I mean, there were so many things.

I mean, there was the imagery, the logo, the cast, the script, the... everything.

And the place, the music.

There are so many things.

Were you prepared for how big it got?

I had just come from JFK to pick up, believe it or not, Bill Murray.

He was arriving. It was a week before shooting began.

But we were also doing some camera tests that day

and also wardrobe tests.

And for the wardrobe test I thought,

"Well, let's just shoot one of those montage pieces

when they first become Ghostbusters."

And the-- It's, at first,

the three Ghostbusters just running down the streets in their uniforms.

- It was Madison Avenue, around 61st.

-[Boucher chuckles]

And I just look up and I see them for the first time.

And I got this amazing shiver up my spine.

And I said, "Wow, that's a fabulous image."

I didn't even know why it was special, but...

I just had the sense at that moment

that we were doing something that was gonna work.

Dan, for you, what was it like that day, wearing the gear and...?

You know, I knew that the look of the thing was gonna be cool.

I guess it was-- Billy and I used to go home for lunch

'cause I lived right above Columbia there in the Valley.

And I could be at the studio within eight minutes,

so we used to go home to lunch sometimes.

And I guess we were having lunch, and Billy was looking out over my pool,

and we were just sitting there, you know...

feeling really fortunate to be doing what we were doing.

And he said, "You know--"

He said, "You know, we've...

We've all got something really, really special here."

I remember driving back to the studio, thinking,

wow, if he's admitting to this... If he's admitting to this--

you know, 'cause his bullshit detector is really high--

-[Boucher] Yeah.

-then we probably do have something

that's gonna work in a big, big way.

We are on the threshold of establishing

the indispensable defense science of the next decade:

professional paranormal investigations and eliminations.

The franchise rights alone will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams.

Look around us today. I mean, not only do we have the films,

and they're alive and well within the public mind,

but the comic books, the video games, the gear,

and the inflatable Stay Puft man right there

that I'm gonna take home with me, I think.

- Thelma's gonna fight you for that.

-[Boucher laughs]

Tell us a little bit about the Stay Puft man.

How did we find him?

You know, Dan-- Dan's the real genius behind all of this.

He wrote a script called Ghostbusters for himself and John Belushi.

How long ago was that, Dan? What?

Yeah, late '81, really, was when I really started to write it.

In late '81. Yeah.

And, of course, John exited our universe,

and it just languished for a little bit.

And I think you sent it to me.

I think, at some point, you spoke to Bill about perhaps picking up the mantle.

- And he sent it to me.

-[Aykroyd] Mm-hmm.

And there was a lot of effects. It would have cost about $300 million in 1984,

I think, to make this film.

But there was these brilliant things.

There was, at its heart, this wonderful central idea

that here are a group of guys sort of operating much like firemen.

-[Boucher] Mm-hmm.

- But instead of putting out fires,

they were catching supernatural things.

And I think the idea of the fire hall was there.

The no-ghost symbol, this wonderful thing,

was right in the script that Danny sent me.

And amongst the hundred-odd special effects monsters that were there,

there was something called the "Stay Puft Marshmallow Man."

And I mean, it happened on page 20 or 30, and it was just one of many things--

Yeah, it definitely was hewing more towards the Underworld.

Uh, that type of franchise.

And I think we were right to lighten it up.

And what happened at Art's Deli in our first meeting was you said,

"How about bringing Ramis aboard to write?"

And, of course, you know, "Would he do it?"

Of course, I was most welcome to that concept.

And then the first time that...

that Ramis sat down to talk about it, he was fully conversant

with all of the original material that was going through my mind

when I wrote the first script, which is the history of mediumship.

He knew who Madame Blavatsky was, the psychics.

He knew who the Fox sisters were.

He was aware of all these names, of Swedenborg,

of all the spiritualism, the spiritualist movement of the turn of the century.

Also Zecharia Sitchin and ancient biblical myths.

And so his frame of reference was massive and he got all the references.

He knew-- In the original script, he knew what I was trying to do there

by bringing in the vernacular

and the real science of the paranormal into a comedy.

So although he did not believe in the afterlife,

he did have a great sense

of who the operators were

in spiritualism at the turn of the century,

from Conan Doyle to Crookes and Lodge

and all the scientists who were researching consciousness after death.

Harold knew all about them.

This is big, Peter. This is very big. There's definitely something here.

Egon, this reminds me of the time you tried to drill a hole through your head.

Remember that?

That would've worked if you hadn't stopped me.

What else can you tell us about Harold and this project

and just sort of the spirit he brought to it?

I saw him, not only as a writer, but as an actor.

I produced a show off-Broadway called The National Lampoon Show

with Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Harold Ramis.

And who am I leaving out?

Somebody very famous. John Belushi.

And this is prior to Saturday Night Live.

And what I remember from that show

is that Harold Ramis was every much as capable

as all these wonderfully later-to-become-famous people.

And it's the reason I put him in Stripes.

You know, he helped write Stripes, so it was natural.

We were talking about Ghostbusters right after Stripes.

And I thought he would be an extraordinary help in the writing.

And also, he would be the sort of wonderful odd duck

in this trio of guys that then later becomes a quartet.

It wouldn't have been the movie that it became without Harold.

No doubt about it, you know?

Again, his intelligence,

the breadth of knowledge that he had about quantum physics

and spiritualism and myth.

All the way through the material, his knowledge came into good use.

And he took to that character. That Egon character was perfect for him.


And I remember him trying on that sort of--

I think it's a 1940s jacket that our costume designer found.

- That was it. He never took it off.

-[Boucher chuckles]

- With the vest.

-[Aykroyd] Mm-hmm.

Then we added that great haircut.

And he just... you know, brought himself.

- Because he's not like that really.

-[Boucher] Mm-hmm.

But there's a part of him that's like that.

He was able to really create this very original character.

Egon, I'm gonna take back some of the things I've said about you.

The steady cam, at that point, was cutting edge.

That was your first work with it?

In a film like this, I thought it was very important to shoot effective masters,

where you see many of the characters in the scene work together.

One of the remarkable things about watching these guys

is how good they are together.

And it's wonderful to see them in a performance

where you don't just have to edit to each one.

There's a real power to watching one of them do it

and see the reaction shot on a still in the frame

and the other two guys doing something as well.

And I felt the film should have a real fluid look to it.

And Laszlo Kovacs was our cameraman, one of the great cameramen ever.

He's no longer with us, unfortunately.

And he just did this wonderful job and was able to, uh, meld--

You know, we did front of the lens mattes through glass,

which really people haven't used very much of in a long time.

And we had puppets being sort of included into live action stuff.

And it all worked pretty damn good for 1984.

And it looks good now.

I mean, in the same way Star Wars looks good and Wizard of Oz,

movies that have a complete and interior statement about--

Their universe feels complete and whole.

I mean, the movie feels true to itself, so it ages very well.

Yeah, and John DeCuir, who was the production designer,

I think we worked with him--

By the time I worked with John DeCuir Sr., he was in his 80s.

I think he was nominated 18 times for Academy Awards, I think.

I think the last of which was Hello, Dolly!

or one of those great musicals.

He built Cleopatra about eight times.

This whole idea of the,

what that rooftop would work, with the gates that open,

really came out of his extraordinary imagination.

And we started building our writing around things that came from him.

-[Aykroyd] Mm-hmm.

- Where I would present to Harold and Dan,

"Look, there's this kind of rooftop."

We added eight stories to the building that's actually there

at 65th and Central Park West.

And even the use of the dogs, those dog statues,

and all the gargoyles, that sort of iconic visualizations in the movie,

sort of all developed quickly as we were building

in preproduction for the film.

- And it's such a sense of scale too.

-[Aykroyd] Yeah.

The scale, because he was the guy who did Cleopatra,

so he was bringing some of that there.

[Reitman] And it was that transitional moment

where analog special effects were shifting over to digital special effects.

Most of our effects, virtually all the effects, were analog.

Many of them were done live on a set, which was very helpful to the performers.

And I think we got a lot of extra humor from it as well

because the actors had something really real to play with.

-[Boucher] Yeah.

- And I bombarded them

with wind and wetness and slime,

and so they were constantly in a kind of...

-physical situation beyond...

-[Boucher chuckles]

Just sort of playing the scene.

We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!

Did you see it? What is it?

[Ray] We got it.

What is it? Will there be any more of them?

What you had there was what we refer to as a focused

non-terminal repeating phantasm, or a class-five full-roaming vapor.

Real nasty one too.

There's the script, there's the actor, and then there's performance.

You know, the triangle of it and where those connect.

What's the character that seems the most different on the screen than on the page?

Who's-- maybe the performer that took the character

to a more surprising direction?

Well, I guess you got to say Murray.

You know, I mean, we had the script. It was there, but...

[Reitman] But you guys knew Murray's voice.

We all knew Murray's voice, we'd all worked with him, and I'd say...

[Aykroyd] He brought it. Yeah.

He brings an extraordinary amount of top spin

and sort of adds his own stuff.

I guess also Louis too, you know?

Moranis did a beautiful job.

Words are just words there. And then with what he did with them...

You know, he's as vital to the success and the appeal of the movie

as any one of the Ghostbusters.

Moranis is in there as a major pillar of the story and of the way it turned out.

In terms of shifting from the original screenplay though--

The original screenplay, I don't know if you remember, we wrote it for John Candy.

I remember sending it to Candy 'cause I had just worked with him again on Stripes.

And John didn't get it.

He kept saying, "Hey, well, maybe-- Can I do him with a German accent?"

And I was little hesitant right away.

I said, "That's kind of an odd thing, it's a very American, New York-based movie."

And he was looking for a handle.

And we got into a very uncomfortable conversation,

and finally it was clear that he was not gonna do it.

And I literally called Rick Moranis the same day

and sent him the script the same day that Candy had turned it down.

And Rick called me like two hours after he got it and he said,

"Please thank Candy for turning this down, this is amazing.

I know what to do with this."

[Louis] I was just exercising.

I taped 20-Minute Workout and played it at high speed

so it took 10 minutes. Got a great workout.

Want to come in for a mineral water?

I'd really like to, Louis, but I have a rehearsal. Excuse me.

No sweat.

[Aykroyd] So much of the movie is Rick.

He holds up a whole part of it.

His strength and his power as a performer is absolutely vital.

It would be like, you know, the ECTO without a transmission

-if it weren't, if he weren't in there.

-[Boucher] Yeah.

It's interesting that he could be so feckless but so likable.

You know, like, you really--

- The audience loves him...

-[Aykroyd] Yeah.

...even though he is, the character comes across...

That's what the great comic performers have, that sort of...

They take us with them wherever they go

even when they go into some relatively dark black place.

- Sure.

- I think what's special about these guys,

they're the smartest guys in the room.

Even when they're acting silly or when they're making mistakes.

Are you, Alice, menstruating right now?

- What has that got to do with it?

- Back off, man. I'm a scientist.

Ray, it's moving. Come on.

There's something about high intelligence

working in a kind of big physical way, in a physical comedy,

that is very endearing to our audience.

Yeah, it helps the center hold too.

I mean, as far, like, it feels like

there's something to learn or have fun with as it goes along.

We thank Harold for the elevated tone of a lot of it.

And also the tradition at Second City

of always just trying to be at the top of your intelligence

and then maybe you're gonna reach the bottom of someone else's.

Everything was fine with our system until the power grid

-was shut off by dickless here.

- They caused an explosion.

- Is this true?

- Yes, it's true. This man has no dick.

What were some of the things you would circle as you look back now

as the challenge and opportunity of this movie?

You know, really the first challenge was how it got made

and how quickly it got made.

-[Boucher] Yeah.

- And how everyone involved, from...

from the creative side of it to the studio to the special effects team

really took this huge gamble and leap.

I really sort of did a ten-line pitch of the movie.

There was the earlier draft,

but it was really not true to what the movie was gonna be,

that we were all setting off to make at that moment.

And so I pitched that movie that was yet to be on paper

and I remember Frank Price asking, "Well, how much do you think it'll cost?"

And of course I had no idea what it was gonna cost.

Stripes had cost ten million,

so I multiplied that by three and I said, "Well, 30."

Really just pulling the number out of thin air.

And they said, "Okay. We'll do that."

And I suddenly realized, "They're gonna make this movie and they've said yes."

And he said, "We'll make it with the cast that you just mentioned.

And you have to have it ready--" I think it was June 9 or 10, 1984.

And so that was 13 months after that moment.

There was no screenplay, there was no...

We had the cast, and we had a brilliant idea,

but there was no special effects team.

There was one great special effects house, Industrial Light & Magic,

and it was already tied up doing the new Spielberg movie.

And so we knew we had no--

We couldn't go to them and we had to create our own.

Columbia actually fronted $5 million to Richard Edlund and he started his own--

Boss Films, I think it was called,

and it was the start of his own special effects house

that was exclusively working on Ghostbusters.


My favorite time on this whole movie, frankly,

was when the three of us, Dan, Harold and I, went to Martha's Vineyard.

We each had a house. Aykroyd was already living there.

And we spent, I think, two and a half weeks around the July 4th weekend

and basically hammered out

-this new draft of the script.

- In my basement.

-[Boucher laughs]

- So we wouldn't look out at the sea.

-[Boucher laughs]

- With an old Royal electric typewriter.

And it was just constantly being rewritten, reedited, re-commented on.

And really, by the time we left there, which was about the 10th of July,

we had a pretty good script.

It wasn't the script we shot,

but it was enough of a script for us to sort of say,

"Well, we need this character, we need that character down the hall.

- We need a woman."

-[Boucher chuckles]

And, you know, I could start auditioning people while the rewriting continued.

And we were shooting the movie in October and it came out in June.

And then, as far as music, just like special effects,

music is also a character just like New York is a character.

Music in this film, I mean, there's the great pop hit everybody knows.

- And then also there's Elmer Bernstein's--

-[Reitman] Yes.

Yeah, people...

What's interesting again, retrospectively, when you look back 3O years,

in 1984, the Ray Parker hit

was the number one hit in the country for that year.

And it's what people remembered.

But really, when you watch the movie again,

what's really resonant for viewers is Elmer Bernstein's remarkable score.

What's really resonant for viewers is Elmer Bernstein's remarkable score.

I remember when he played me the very first main theme

using the ondes martenot, which was a 19th-century keyboard instrument

that sounds very much like a Moog synthesizer.

And it's played in the vibrato

of that high, sort of very spiritual, ghostly like sound.

And there's great weight in the score, as well.

I mean, he was a composer that really knew how to use a brass section

and orchestrate for it.

And all that weight sort of comes together to make these scenes really serious.

And so by the time we're on top of that building in the last act,

it's really working.

[thunder roaring]


[thunder crashes]

[Ghostbusters] Ah!

I remember watching it in those first screenings with audiences.

They were really enthralled in a way that, frankly, surprised me.

'Cause I was always thinking of the comedy and how that was gonna work.

And really what was...

made me feel really good as a director is that how emotionally involved

and how, frankly, frightened the audience was

-at a certain point.

- Yeah.

It was a real good, old-fashioned, classic Hollywood score,

with a full orchestra doing it.

Who are you guys?

We're the Ghostbusters.

Who does your taxes?

Something like this, because it means so much to so many people,

it must come back to you in different ways from the fans.

I imagine you both have had some interesting conversations

or been approached by people.

Well, I have a beverage alcohol business.

I sell the vodka in the skull. The Crystal Head Vodka in the skull.

Just as Britney would go to sign CDs or as John Grisham signs books,

I sign bottles.

And I go to liquor stores all over North America, all over the world, really,

-[Boucher laughs]

-and I sign bottles.

Everywhere I go, there will be--

an ECTO will show up with between five and 25 Ghostbusters in full rig.

They're usually men between the age of 25 and 45.

They bring their girlfriends or wives, who are not in uniform,

but photograph them with me.

And then you'll get some of them bringing their kids.

And now you're starting to see even smaller, like, infant grand--

in the Ghostbusters jumpsuits,

-the tiny little baby suits.

- The onesies.

The onesies.

So you have the grandkids now

of original Ghostbusters viewers out there

being invested in the, you know-- in the story and fantasy of it.

It's both humbling and gratifying in a way.

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