To absolutely no one’s surprise, Bill Murray is missing. It’s Sept. 7 in the ballroom of Toronto’s Trump tower, and suddenly this EW photo shoot for the Ghostbusters reunion is in danger of suffering the same fate as Ghostbusters III. Most of the cast is here, but Murray, in town for the premiere of his movie St. Vincent at the Toronto Film Festival, is not. He’s apparently in the building somewhere, but he’s now two hours late. Perhaps he’s doing press. Or watching his hometown Chicago Bears play the Buffalo Bills on TV while Tito Puente records blast in the background. Maybe he’s just not in the mood?
”This is a peek into my world,” jokes director Ivan Reitman, who, along with Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis, never quite persuaded Murray to don his Ghostbuster jumpsuit as Dr. Peter Venkman for a third film. But before anyone snaps, Murray slips in, consults with his costars, and goes to work being Bill Murray. He’d requested some 1970s Ethiopian jazz for the shoot — of course he did — and finds his mojo after he switches to an Afrojack tune and personally pumps up the volume. He begins pulling random people into the photo — a shy assistant, a publicist, a crew member — until, by the end of the session, about 30 folks are crowded into the frame with him. But who cares, right? All’s well. He (eventually) came, we (eventually) saw, he (eventually) saved our ass.
Ghostbusters has been with us now for 30 years, but it’s almost impossible to convey the enormousness of the film’s impact on the culture in 1984, when audiences laughed, gasped, laughed some more, and then spent the summer singing along to Ray Parker Jr.’s catchy rhetorical song. In Hollywood, it proved that those young Turks who’d come up through Second City and Saturday Night Live could deliver a monster blockbuster, a comedy Star Wars that dwarfed their nose-thumbing post-Watergate comedies Animal House, The Blues Brothers, and Stripes.
The movie had been Aykroyd’s brainchild. ”My great-grandfather was an Edwardian spiritualist, and I took from my family history and married it with the ghost comedies of the 1930s — Abbott and Costello, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, and the Bowery Boys,” says Aykroyd, who played Dr. Ray Stantz. ”I just thought, ‘Let’s do a comedy ghost movie, but let’s base it on the real research.”’ Reitman and Ramis helped pare down the time-traveling, multidimensional aspects of Aykroyd’s darker original treatment and sold it to Columbia as a then-pricey $30 million story about a team of supernatural exterminators in New York. ”It was an absolutely easy sell,” says Reitman. ”I had just had three big hits in a row. The studio seemed to have a lot of belief in me and the actors, specifically, as being emerging stars in a big way.”