The cinematic continuation of the Ghostbusters franchise was a topic of uncertainty nearly from the moment Ghostbusters II exited theaters in 1989. Dan Aykroyd spent years trying to get a third film off the ground, and no matter how close the project was to actually moving forward, Bill Murray was adamant, virtually every time he was asked about it in interviews, that he wanted no part of such a movie.
After the news broke that a Ghostbusters franchise reboot is on the way - this time with an all-female main cast and director Paul Feig at the helm - there wasn’t much reason to believe Murray would be taking part. However, it's been confirmed that Murray filmed a cameo role in the new movie; and now, the actor has explained his decision to return to the Ghostbusters universe (however briefly), after a nearly three-decade absence.
In an interview with Vulture, Murray talked about what convinced him to make the Ghostbusters reboot cameo in the first place:
“You know, they were incredibly nice to ask me, and I really enjoyed being there. They have such a jolly group, and they are going to have great success with this project. I didn’t want to overshadow [them] or anything, and I feel really good about it.. I like those girls a lot. I mean, I really do. They are tough to say no to. And Paul is a real nice fellow.”
Two of the Ghostbusters reboot cast members - Feig's Bridemaids star (and the film's co-writer) Kristin Wiig as well as Murray's St. Vincent costar Melissa McCarthy - were even nominated by Murray for the project, well before their casting had been officially announced. Nonetheless, it took Murray a while before he accepted a small role in the film, by his own admission:
“I thought about it for a very long time. Like, many, many months. No, that’s not right. I was seriously thinking about this for years, really … It kept eating at me, and I really respect those girls. And then I started to feel like if I didn’t do this movie, maybe somebody would write a bad review or something, thinking there was some sort of disapproval [on my part].”
It’s not hard to see why there’s a comfort level between Murray and the Ghostbusters reboot cast; in addition to McCarthy and Wiig, co-leads Leslie Jones and Katie McKinnon both have experience working on Saturday Night Live, which Murray starred on during the 1970s. Likewise, Feig - one of today’s leading comedy directors thanks to films like Bridesmaids and Spy - has a sensibility that would appear to mesh well with the veteran actor's.
Murray won't be playing Peter Venkman in Feig's movie, since the project is a full-blown reboot (read: fresh start) for the Ghostbusters franchise; likewise, Aykroyd's cameo in the film will be small enough that he won't end up overshadowing the new Ghostbusters, either. Still, it's hard to imagine a movie that wouldn’t be improved just by the presence of Murray.
Ghostbusters will open in U.S. theaters on July 15th, 2016.