Paul Feig on Why Bill Murray Joined His 'Ghostbusters' — And the 'Nerve-racking' Moment He Stepped on Set

Kevin Polowy
Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment

Paul Feig isn’t yet revealing what roles Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray play in the new Ghostbusters. What we know is they don’t play doctors Raymond Stantz and Peter Venkman, respectively, since the new version takes place in a separate timeline from the 1984 original and its 1989 sequel.

But the director will say that the comedy legends signed on for his reboot in large part because of the cast of funny women inheriting the proton packs: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. “Dan was in Melissa’s movie Tammy, and Kristen knows him well because of SNL, and I think he’s been around because he knows Kate and Leslie, too,” Feig told Yahoo Movies. “And same with Bill. Bill worked with Melissa in St. Vincent and he’s been around the [SNL] set enough, and Kristen knows him really well.”

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Murray’s relationship with a contemporary ghostbusting adventure hasn’t always been smooth as slime. Per cinematic lore, the 65-year-old actor once mailed back a shredded script for Ghostbusters 3 to Aykroyd and their late costar, Harold Ramis, with the note, “No one wants to pay money to see fat, old men chasing ghosts!” While the anecdote may be apocryphal, Murray has said he resisted various takes on the sequel for years, including a version of the script in which he would play a ghost himself. But Murray sparked to the idea of an all-female reboot — at one point even nominating a dream cast (Wiig, McCarthy, Emma Stone, and Linda Cardellini) — and in August signed on to make a cameo.

“One of the reasons he did it, I think he liked the role we wrote for him,” Feig said. “But he also just likes these actors, and just wanted to be a part of it. And he didn’t want to give any stamp of disapproval by not coming on board.”

Feig was particularly geeked about working with Murray, too. “That was a big moment for me when he walked on the set,” the director said. “You’re so in the moment that nothing seems like it has any kind of historical value while you’re doing it, because we’re just making this thing. … But when he walked onto the Ghostbusters set I was like, 'This is a big deal.’ It was really nerve-wracking, and special.”

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Feig said he didn’t experience any of the karaoke surprise-like moments that have made Murray an Internet MVP, but he does promise a Classic Murray Movie Moment. “As he was doing this role we wrote, he did this one take in particular where like, in Meatballs, where he just bursts out with some big thing. It wasn’t scripted. That’s when you’re like, 'Oh my God, wow, Bill Murray’s here. This is Bill Murray from Stripes.” Or Ghostbusters.

Ghosbusters opens June 15. Watch the first trailer: