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Who you gonna call? Well, the list is longer now.
The highly-anticipated Ghostbusters: Afterlife is finally opening over the weekend after being delayed several times, like a series of other films, due to the pandemic. And with it, fans of the iconic supernatural-comedy franchise will be introduced to a slew of new characters — along with a few favorites peppered in throughout.
The preverbal neutrona wand has indeed been passed on to the next generation — in the movie (and among the audience) with young stars Mckenna Grace, Celeste O’Connor, Logan Kim and Finn Wolfhard joining the exclusive club. Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon also star; their characters helping to bridge the gap between the 1980s classics directed by Afterlife producer Ivan Reitman and the newest chapter, directed by Reitman’s son, Jason.
For Grace, already a seasoned TV and film veteran at the age of 15, the Ghostbusters experience was almost too much to handle as she loved the original films so deeply.
“I cried,” admits the actress who arguably steals the film as Phoebe Spengler, the granddaughter of Egon. “I cried when I first walked onto set. I cried whenever I stepped into the suit and held the proton pack. It was a really emotional project, so close to my heart being the massive Ghostbusters fan that I am.”
Ghostbusters: Afterlife picks up 30 years after the first two Sony films. The Spengler family moves to Summerville, Okla. to live in the farmhouse left to them by the late, reclusive Ghostbuster. Needless to say, they are in for a wild ride filled with ghosts and secrets.
“The great thing about this film is not only will it means a lot of young girls, but also adults, grown men,” Grace says. “Everyone can totally relate to this awkward girl who is just looking for friends, looking for something to connect to. And it is special watching her connect to her old family.”
Coon, who plays Egon’s daughter, Callie, says she was floored by the talents of all the younger actors, but especially her Afterlife screen-daughter.
“Mckenna is an extraordinary young person who has already had quite a career. I think her IMDb is longer than mine,” Coon says with a laugh. “What I first noticed was how genuine her enthusiasm was, it was not put on for Ivan Retinman’s benefit. She’s learning how to make space for herself as an artist and it was a privilege to be present for that process. She is the heart of the movie. I have tremendous respect for her as a colleague. I don’t think of her as a kid.”
Coon also credits director Reitman for making the enormous production feel small and intimate. “It felt like a family drama, not a legacy picture,” she says.
And it was that feeling that O’Connor credits for not getting overwhelmed by the project; director Reitman making sure the young stars did not feel the weight of the franchise on their shoulders.
“It felt like a little family,” O’Connor says. “We all knew we were making something really special. Jason made it feel like we were part of a small family on set.” And the feeling was extended by the three original Ghostbusters: Ernie Hudson, Dany Aykroyd and Bill Murray.
“I remember Ernie gave me the biggest hug. And Bill loves to joke on set. Dan pulled me aside and said ‘Welcome to the Ghostbusters family, kid.’ It was the sweetest thing of all time,” says O’Connor, who plays Lucky, adding of the experience, “It was totally empowering and exciting. It felt important to me, especially as a young woman of color to be in that position and to be empowered in that way.”
Rudd admits he was the biggest kid on set, pinching himself several times in reaction to being a part of the franchise he was obsessed with as a kid.
“One of the greatest joys of working on this movie was really getting to spend time with Mckenna, Finn, Logan and Celeste,” says Rudd, who plays summer school teacher Gary Grooberson. “They are the heartbeat of the movie. Mckenna is phenomenal. They are great kids. They were fun to hang out with.”
The superstar actor notes he was quite impressed with newcomer Kim, who plays Podcast. “Logan, it was the first thing he had ever done,” says Rudd. “And here is this kid from Texas who was so poised and so funny and wise beyond his years in all the best ways. I’m glad I had so many scenes with [all the kids] because getting to act with them was a real treat.”
Perhaps intimidating to some newcomers, Kim says the actual friendships he formed with his castmates helped him feel at total ease on the major production.
“Everyone was really close, the crew and cast,” Kim says. “Mckenna and I shared a school trailer, so we were always hanging around. You can really see our chemistry. We were good friends when we first met and you can see that in the movie. And you get to see Phoebe evolve and Podcast open up. We really wanted to show that.”
Stranger Things star Wolfhard echos Coon and Rudd in talking about his admiration for his young Afterlife colleagues.
“This movie has been such a huge inspiration for me; taught me so much about life and filmmaking,” says Wolfhard, who plays Trevor Spengler, Callie’s son and Phoebe’s brother. “Mckenna is one of the best actors I have ever worked with. She is so sensitive and brilliant. I was so proud of her throughout the entire process. Logan Kim; it was his first movie ever and he walked on set like he had done 100 films. I really respect him. And Celeste had just come out of an indie movie so this was their first big thing. It was incredible to experience it with these people who I really love.”
As for meeting the original three Ghostbusters, well, Wolfhard admits he was naturally star-struck. “Ernie is the sweetest man of all time and I could talk to him forever,” he says. “Dan was so excited for it. He was so giddy every day on set. It was amazing. And Bill, he commanded the room in every way possible. He makes everything 10 times better.”
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