Behind The Scenes Secrets From 'Ghostbusters' Most People Have Never Heard
With a cast full of clowns like Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Rick Moranis, it's no surprise there are some wacky Ghostbusters behind-the-scenes secrets. Perhaps the most fascinating pieces of Ghostbusters trivia actually pertain to the somewhat hectic production process. That said, some not-so-funny things were going on as well, like a lawsuit brought on by Huey Lewis.
Ghostbusters is not only considered one of the best movies of the '80s, but also frequently said to be one of the top 100 comedies of all time. Its success has spawned spinoff cartoons, video games, a reboot, and even a 2020 sequel, Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
Despite its warm reception, you probably don't know a lot of things about the original Ghostbusters, so let's rectify that. Here are a bunch of interesting Ghostbusters facts, and miraculously, there aren't even spoilers (although the film is more than 30 years old, so if you haven't seen it yet, you don't really have an excuse).
The Supernatural Is Dan Aykroyd's 'Family Business'
Dan Aykroyd grew up on a farm in Ontario, Canada, where his family held regular seances for generations. This went as far back as Aykroyd's great-grandfather - who was a "renowned spiritualist." According to Vanity Fair, the family had a medium through whom they regularly channeled souls from the other side (supposedly). Aykroyd's grandfather carried on the ghostly endeavors as he sought a way to contact the deceased through radio frequencies.
And Aykroyd's father wrote A History of Ghosts: The True Story of Seances, Mediums, Ghosts and Ghostbusters. All of this played an integral role in Aykroyd's writing of Ghostbusters.
It Was Originally Written With John Belushi In Mind To Star Before He DiedPhoto: Animal House/Universal Pictures / Amazon
Dan Aykroyd's SNL costar, John Belushi, died of a drug overdose in 1982 in the midst of his meteoric rise to stardom. “[Ghostbusters was originally] written for John [Belushi] and I,” Aykroyd told Vanity Fair. “I was writing a line for John, and [talent manager and eventual Ghostbusters executive producer] Bernie Brillstein called and said they just found him. It was a Kennedy moment... We loved each other as brothers.”
But Belushi did make his way into the film, at least in spirit. Aykroyd admitted that Slimer's appearance was inspired by Belushi's body type. Perhaps not overly flattering from an outside perspective, but considering their close-knit relationship, Aykroyd clearly did it in his friend's honor.
Sigourney Weaver Snarled Like A Demonic Dog In Her Audition To Prove She Could Pull Off Being Possessed
Sigourney Weaver's audition actually shaped a significant element of the film. It was her idea that the character, Dana Barrett, should behave like a dog when she was possessed. Ivan Reitman told the Guardian, "We were already struggling with the whole key-master/gatekeeper thing, and we didn’t know what to do with it, and it was all worth it for the line: 'My girlfriend’s a dog.'"
Reitman recalled the moment in the audition when Weaver hooked him, saying, "She then got on all fours and started howling like a dog on my coffee table, and I was just fascinated. It was so goofy and funny."
The Movie Was Considered A 'Horrendously' Expensive Risk
“The wisdom in town was that I had made a terrible mistake,” Frank Price, former Columbia chairman, told Vanity Fair vis-à-vis his greenlighting of the project. Even the Columbia studio executives were divided, with some viewing the project as a "horrendously" expensive risk, given how much special effects were required, something virtually unheard of for comedies at the time.
Tom Shales, co-author of Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, recalled, “This was not Animal House or Caddyshack or Stripes. Those were all little movies. This was a big, big gamble.” Fortunately, Ghostbusters ended up being the second highest grossing film of 1984 and is still today in the top 50 highest grossing movies of all time.
The Studio Agreed To Finance Bill Murray's 'The Razor's Edge' After He Starred In 'Ghostbusters'
Apparently, everyone involved knew how difficult it was to get Bill Murray to commit to anything. In this instance, it involved a sort of quid pro quo. Murray only agreed to make Ghostbusters after coming to the understanding with Columbia head, Frank Price, that the studio would then back The Razor's Edge. This was a film Murray co-wrote based on a 1940's novel by W. Somerset Maugham. The two eventually reached an agreement, despite the strain it put on an already tight schedule. Even after they got him on board, it was still a struggle to wrangle the mercurial comedian.
Dan Aykroyd told Vanity Fair, “Whenever you can actually put a script into Billy’s hand, as if you were a process server... you gotta look him in the eye [and say], ‘You did receive this.’”
The Original Script Was Far Darker And More Fantastical
Ivan Reitman told Vanity Fair, “It was a screenplay that was impossible to make, but one that had brilliant ideas in it.” Since the original "exhausted" him, they only took bits and pieces of it to make the final product. Interestingly, some elements that were initially in the story were pretty fascinating. It took place in the future, spanning numerous planets and dimensional planes.
The Ghostbusters weren't originally meant to be business owning tradesmen, just more of an adventuring team. Reitman felt the business ownership grounded the film, which is hard to deny, at least when compared to planet hopping ghost hunting.