Finally, after months and months of “controversy,” the new Ghostbusters finally opens up in theaters this week. Can you imagine being Katie Dippold throughout all of this? The former Parks and Recreation writer broke through with her script for The Heat before being tapped by The Heat’s director, Paul Feig, to co-write a Ghostbusters reboot. Seriously, at that point, how could anyone have expected what was coming?
When you meet Dippold — at least on this day, in mid-July, a couple days after the first (mostly positive) reviews from Ghostbusters have hit — she has a look on her face that reads as a mixture of “excitement” and “bewilderment”; obviously the latter comes from that fact any “scorn” could amount over a movie about “funny people busting ghosts.” Honestly, I felt bad even bringing it up; as if she hasn’t had to talk about the whole dumb issue enough.
Ahead, Dippold talks about her bafflement at people being mad about a movie they haven’t seen yet. She also explains why she and Feig decided to make a reboot, instead of a loosely associated sequel. And Dippold tells the story of how Bill Murray became a part of the new movie at almost literally the last minute, and how Rick Moranis appearing was just not meant to be.
But, first, we discuss the DeBarge song, “Rhythm of the Night.”
Ghostbusters prominently features DeBarge’s “Rhythm of the Night.”
No one’s mentioned that yet!
How is that possible?
I don’t know. And I don’t know how it’s possible it made it into the final cut. I was sure someone at some point would tell me, “That’s ridiculous.”
Song rights issues?
Or just, “What is this?”
I can’t imagine El DeBarge would have a problem.
Or even like someone from the studio being like, “What is this random song? Can it be a current song?” – because it’s kind of obscure, but I love that song.
People make me sing it at karaoke.
It’s so great. And I just really, strongly felt like Holtzman would like that song.
Are you worried about the DeBarge fans boycotting Ghostbusters because Holtzman refers to “Rhythm of the Night” as a Devo song in the movie?
That’s a fair concern. That’s our new hate group. Weirdly, they got the most violent about it. Who would have thought?
Have you been happy with the reviews?
Yeah, yeah. I keep glancing, trying not to, but I can’t help myself.
So the original plan was not to read them?
Yes. You know, when The Heat came out, I read a lot of reviews and it didn’t really do any good.
But people like that movie.
It got some tough reviews, though. I’m pretty self-critical. If there’s something you don’t like about the movie, believe me, I’m sure I’ve thought of it.
Is there something in Ghostbusters you feel that way about?
If I answer that question, someone from Sony would put a hook around my neck and I would be dragged out.
The “controversy” around this movie is the dumbest thing.
It’s crazy. It’s really weird. On some levels, I get it…
Do you? Or do you have to say that?
There’s stuff I get and I don’t get. I’ll tell you both. I get people are bummed that they’re not getting a sequel they’ve been hoping for. They wanted to see Peter Venkman again.
I am under the impression Bill Murray will never play Peter Venkman again.
I am also under that impression.
So these people aren’t getting their sequel anyway.
We are on the same page. And after Harold Ramis passed away, Ivan Reitman didn’t want to direct it anymore. And if it’s not that original team, I can’t think of anyone – no matter how great they are or how talented they are – I don’t want anyone to tell me how those characters turned out. I’d rather leave those characters alone. I don’t want some new random comedy duo telling me what happened to Venkman.
So is that why you wanted to do a complete reboot, as opposed to having a character say, “something like this happened in 1984,” or whatever?
Paul Feig wanted to do a reboot. And I had a moment of thinking I was surprised he didn’t want to do a sequel, it would be really fun. But then after thinking about it and hearing his reasons, his reasons are valid. They’ve already survived two attacks, then coming up with how they are still underdogs?
You’d think after two attacks, people would start to believe them.
So, having to come up with a third? So they’re back at it again? That just feels tricky – just very tricky. And I know for him, he likes an origin story. He doesn’t like equipment handed down to a team. He likes seeing people formed. And the more time I spent with it, I don’t know how I would answer what happened to Egon. And I don’t know that I’d be happy about what anyone else’s take was, so I think I’d respectfully let that movie be, and we all love it, and this movie doesn’t touch that.
And they tried to make a third one for a long time. When I’d read about that third script, it didn’t sound all that great. Not to mention most people don’t even like the second movie that much.
Here’s how I wish people would look at it: The original exists, we all love it, I love it so much. It’s a magical moment in cinema history. This movie is a love letter from a cast and crew who loves the original Ghostbusters … this doesn’t hurt the original, this is just another option if you want to see some other people bust some ghosts.
So, how would you write a sequel to this movie? You mentioned that keeping them the underdogs is tough. Now you will be in that situation.
[Laughs] We will have to reboot the reboot.
I’m looking forward to the message boards, “How dare they. Melissa McCarthy originated this role.”
Yes. You know, I don’t know. I don’t let myself think about a sequel too much.
The movie does set something up in a post-credits scene.
[Laughs] It’s just a little bit of a, “Won’t you come with us on this next journey?” I think we’d have to approach it from a different angle. Maybe they don’t have to be shamed. It would be a tricky situation I’d be so fortunate to have to deal with.
Bill Murray is in this movie. But I do have a feeling if you had asked him to cameo as Peter Venkman, he’d have said no.
He would not have done that. I cannot say for certain, but from everything I’ve heard from everyone involved, it sounded like that was not likely to happen.
How open was he to doing this role at first?
We called the mysterious phone number. We sent him the script and asked him to play that part. Then a day before we shot it, yeah, we found out he was coming in.
What would you have done with that part if he hadn’t shown up?
I have no idea. It was really crazy. It was a very stressful time, but it made it all the more exciting when he showed up.
Rick Moranis was just never going to happen, was it?
We tried. But, yeah. We would have loved that.
I miss him.
You know what kills me? A fun thing would have been a surprise. I know, in today’s day and age, surprises are impossible.
Well, things still turned out well.
[Laughs] I’m a very anxious writer who is constantly trying to find happiness, so it’s hard for me to say that. But I’m having a very nice time.
Mike Ryan lives in New York City and has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.