Bill Murray Reveals How He Signed on For ‘Ghostbusters II’ Under ‘False Pretenses’

by Suzanne Halliburton

Bill Murray said he was tricked into starring in the sequel to Ghostbusters. And the director did it by pushing warm and fuzzy feelings with the cast and a different pitch for the movie.

So tell us Bill Murray, aka Peter Venkman, was it Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”?

It wasn’t mass hysteria, more like heart-tugging nostalgia. Murray said the cast from the blockbuster Ghostbusters got together to listen to a speech about a sequel.

Murray chatted about the discussion earlier this month when he was honored by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. He said:

“I don’t know if (director Ivan Reitman) set it up, but they got us all back together in a room. And really, we hadn’t been together in a room since the (first) movie came out and it was just really, really fun to be together. We were really funny together. Those are some really wonderful, really funny guys and girls. Sigourney [Weaver] and Annie Potts are some really spectacular women and funny as hell. They got us all together and they pitched a story idea that was really great. I thought, ‘Holy cow, we could make that work.’”

Bill Murray Said Script That Was Pitched Didn’t Turn Out to be Actual Movie

But Murray said the final script for the 1989 sequel wasn’t what was pitched at the earlier meeting.

“It ended up not being the story they wrote,” Murray said. “They got us in the sequel under false pretenses. Harold (Ramis) had this great idea. But by the time we got to shooting it, I showed up on set and went, ‘What the hell is this? What is this thing? But we were already shooting it, so we had to figure out how to make it work.”

The original Ghostbusters, which premiered in 1984, was the top ranked movie in the country for seven straight weeks. The movie generated more than $282 million at the box office, setting the box-office record for a comedy. The top phrase that summer probably was “Who you gonna call … Ghostbusters!”

The box office for the 1989 sequel produced $212 million at the box office. It was a nice haul, but the movie, even with Bill Murray and the same cast, wasn’t as electric and fresh as the first one.

Original Cast Played Cameo Roles in All-Female 2016 Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters was reimagined with a mostly-female cast in 2016. The comedians in the cast —  Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones — were terrific. Most of the original cast members made cameos, including Bill Murray, made cameos, but not as their original characters. Murray said he participated in the movie only because of his friendship with McCarthy and McKinnon.

The 2016 movie made about $228 million.

So now that brings us to another sequel. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is set for release this November. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the premiere date back by more than a year. Most of the original cast is back for the movie. The brilliant actor/writer/comedian Harold Ramis will be missing. He died in 2014.

Bill Murray said filming the movie was difficult.

“It was hard. It was really hard,” Murray said. “That’s why I think it’s gonna be good. We were just in it for a little while, but it was physically painful. Wearing those packs is extremely uncomfortable. We had batteries the size of batteries. They now have batteries the size of earrings. It’s still a really heavy thing to wear, all the time.”

We’re hoping Bill Murray as Peter Wenkman avoids the slime and gets to say “we came, we saw, we kicked its ass.”

Here’s a taste of the new Ghostbusters for your Wednesday viewing pleasure.