Ghostbusters: Afterlife director Jason Reitman on pulling off that major cameo

by Natalie Kiser

Ghostbusters: Afterlife, cameo, Jason Reitman

SPOILERS for Ghostbusters: Afterlife . Consider yourself warned. We’ve received more than a few doses of cinematic nostalgia over the course of the year, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife certainly counts. Serving as a direct sequel to the original films, Ghostbusters: Afterlife followed a single mom and her two kids as they arrive in a small town and begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind. As they were featured in the trailers, it’s probably not a spoiler to say that the original team is involved, but just how did they pull off the biggest cameo in Ghostbusters: Afterlife?

If you’ve seen Ghostbusters: Afterlife you’ll know that the entire original Ghostbusters team does show up, and that includes Egon Spengler. You could say that Spengler has a bigger role in the events of the film than the other members of the original cast, which is a feat considering Harold Ramis died in 2014. While speaking with Empire, Ghostbusters: Afterlife director Jason Reitman said that the first people to read the script after his father was Harold Ramis’ family. Considering how important Spengler is to the events of the film, it was important that Ramis’ family had a say in how his image was used.

The first person that ever read the script was my father, and after my father it was the Ramis family. It was Harold’s widow, Erica, and daughter Violet, who I grew up knowing – we were both on the set of the original back in ’83. I talked to them about what we wanted to do, how we were going to do it. They came to set, and they viewed visual effects that came to the editing room. They’re the first people to ever actually see the movie. So they were part of this movie from start to finish and I think they were aware of how much I wanted to honour Harold. Egon was my favourite Ghostbuster. This is a Spengler story, and this movie is dedicated to him in every way.

In terms of pulling off Egon Spengler’s cameo in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the late actor was obviously resurrected digitally, but Jason Reitman knew that there’s a fine line between tastefully done and the uncanny valley. “Anyone who enjoys movies has now seen examples of virtual characters that really work and virtual characters that are difficult to look at,” Reitman said. “It’s one thing to see in the middle of a movie, where it kind of comes and goes. It’s another thing if the whole climax of the movie will be decided on whether or not you believe these two people are hugging each other, that a daughter is forgiving her father and saying goodbye to him. And that these Ghostbusters, who have gone through this misunderstanding and been broken apart, get to stand next to each other one more time and bust a ghost.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife will be released on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray on February 1, 2022, and will also be part of a massive Ghostbusters box-set that will include Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. After some outcry that Paul Feig’s reboot wouldn’t be included, that film will now be available as a digital download for those that purchase the set.