Remember when it seemed like it took forever for Ivan Reitman and Co. to deliver Ghostbusters II, five whole years after the original action-comedy became a pop-culture phenomenon? That was nothing. Ghostbusters fans have now waited more than a quarter century for another film, with beloved curmudgeon Bill Murray repeatedly shooting down attempts to get the gang back together. It wasn’t until director Paul Feig and a new squad of paranormal exterminators combined the tools and the talent that the Ghostbusters finally answered the call.
There are four of them, they’re funny, and they bust ghosts, but as you may have heard, the new Ghostbusters are not named Pete, Ray, Egon, and Winston. Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Kristen Wiig have grabbed the torch — and the neutrona wands — from Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and the late Harold Ramis, and though you can expect to see some familiar faces pop up when Ghostbusters opens July 15, Feig and his team set out to make their own mark while simultaneously honoring the franchise’s legacy. “You can’t get better than the original,” says Wiig, who plays Erin Gilbert, a professor who conveniently forgets her ridiculed studies of the supernatural in order to build a serious career in academia. “But it’s a different movie, it’s a different cast, it’s many years later, and we’ve also done things that are different. It’s not just about it starring women.”
Tell that to the internet. Some Ghostbusters fans have “gone bye-bye,” as if the very idea of a female Ghostbuster is retroactively ruining their childhood. It hasn’t reached “dogs and cats living together” level of hysteria but some of the critical comments online have been coarse, cruel, and extremely misogynistic. “When people started asking me about the gender stuff, I would say, ‘It’s not a man thing, it’s not a woman thing. It’s a Ghostbuster thing,” says Jones, who plays Patty Tolan, a city transportation employee who joins the three scientists.
“I just thought, ‘Really? Are we still there?’ says McCarthy, who plays Gilbert’s old college classmate, Abby Yates. “It’s a movie. I never gave it another thought. You just have to go, ‘Well, I hope you get out a little more. The world is fun.’ I really think it’s the minority.”
In EW’s exclusive roundtable with the four stars, they address the backlash head-on but also discuss more important matters — like the manly perfection of Chris Hemsworth, who plays their mimbo assistant, and the gaseous fumes that lurked on the set. (“I guess the fart’s out of the bag,” quips a guilty McKinnon.)
Just listening to their comic rapport is enough to appreciate what Murray immediately recognized. On June 8, he joined the new Ghostbusters on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and the host put the question to him: Why, after holding out for all these years, had he finally come around to making another Ghostbusters. Said the man, the myth, the legend, “It was only ‘cause I knew these girls were funny.”