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).
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.
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'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 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.