New ‘Ghostbusters’ about forgiveness: Jason Reitman
Carrying on the legacy of a beloved movie franchise is a daunting task for any filmmaker, but the pressure on Jason Reitman when it came to taking the helm of the latest Ghostbusters film had a different sort of intensity.
“I want to make my dad proud and I want him to be proud of this film,” said Jason, during a talk at the Calgary International Film Festival. “I want him to be proud of me but I also want him to be proud of this thing that we’re doing. I’m very aware of the legacy of this movie because I’m a huge fan. I spent summers much like many other young people in the ’80s watching it every day. I’m in love with the movie and I feel a responsibility in picking it up. Since coming here, I’ve met the Calgary Ghostbusters, I’ve met the Alberta Ghostbusters. I want to make a movie that it true to them but I’m also hoping to make a movie that makes my father proud and also makes my daughter proud.”
It was a poignant moment at the Eau Claire Market Cinemas Saturday night, particularly since a visibly moved Ivan Reitman, Jason’s father and the director of the first two Ghostbusters movies, was sitting beside his son as he said this. The elder Reitman, who is co-producing Ghostbusters 2020, was an unannounced bonus addition to the talk, which was hosted by CTV’s Tara Nelson and covered both filmmakers’ careers.
Neither Reitman offered much intel about the plot of the new Ghostbusters film, which has been based in Calgary and has been shooting in various small towns in southern Alberta since May under the name Rust City. Details about the story have been kept under wraps and Jason repeated what he has said before about the inspiration for the new film.
“If you had ever asked me at any point in my life whether or not I was going to direct a Ghostbusters movie, my answer would have been no,” he said. “I couldn’t think of anything intimidating than attempting to direct a Ghostbusters movie. And then this character came to me. She came to me frankly awhile ago. I couldn’t stop thinking about her and her journey. One day I just brought her up to my father and said ‘What do you think of this? And how could it fit inside the Ghostbusters universe.’ He said ‘You have to write it.’”
That character is presumably the one played by 13-year-old Mckenna Grace. Stranger Things actor Finn Wolfhard plays her brother and actress Carrie Coon plays their mother. Paul Rudd plays a teacher, while Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson have been confirmed as taking on the roles they originated in the 1984 original.
No one addressed rumours that Bill Murray will also be returning, but he did enter into the conversation. Both Reitmans were asked about the beginnings of their career and their habit of using the same actors in their films. That led Ivan to talk about his early days directing Murray, who he called both a “gift from God” and “challenging,” in the 1979 summer camp comedy, Meatballs. Murray, who would go on to star in Reitman’s Stripes in 1981 and the two Ghostbuster films, would not commit to Meatballs until the day before shooting began.
“The second day of shooting, he had the script in his hand and said ‘You know, this is crap,’ and he threw it down,” Ivan says. “We ended up doing the scene as it was in the script. But he had a way of changing every few lines into his own special syntax and language. And I realized ‘Oh, his way is better.’ And if I was smart I was going to listen to him and be his friend somehow through this process and move quickly enough and be nimble enough to take advantage of what he could bring.”
Jason also talked about his early days directing his debut, 2005’s Thank You For Smoking and 2007’s Juno.The latter became a surprise hit and earned Jason an Oscar nomination for best director. The success of the film gave him a certain freedom for his followup Up in the Air, a 2009 comedy-drama with George Clooney that was nominated for six Oscars, including a second directing nod for the filmmaker.
Reitman would go on to direct Young Adult, Tully and the political drama The Front Runner, among others.
“I like making movies about unlikeable characters,” Jason said. “It’s not something I set out to do. It’s only upon looking back that I’ve realized what I like to do is try to give the audience the most unlikeable character possible and try and find the way in and try and find the humanity.”
“Until Ghostbusters,” Ivan added.
“I will say that the Ghostbusters movie is about forgiveness and, in that way, I think it falls really in line with the rest,” Jason says.
As for his experiences in Calgary, Jason said he doesn’t want to leave. Ghostbusters is expected to wrap next month.
“Alberta has had more cinematography Oscars than any other province or state,” he said. “It’s a movie that is rural. It takes place on a farm and it’s absolutely stunning here. This has been my first experience shooting out here and I’m living up here. I’ve been living up here since May, I love it. I’m eating better than I ever have. I have eight favourite restaurants I think in town. I love it here. We have an amazing cast and crew; local actors, local crew. You’ve been incredible hosts to Ghostbusters.”