Bill Murray Says Loss of Harold Ramis’ Egon Fuels Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Returning Ghostbusters star Bill Murray confirms the memory of the late Egon Spengler, played by Harold Ramis in 1984's Ghostbusters and 1989's Ghostbusters II, is at the heart of Jason Reitman's Ghostbusters: Afterlife. One of the four OGBs — or "Original Ghostbusters," as Dan Aykroyd's Ray Stantz, Ernie Hudson's Winston Zeddemore and Murray's Peter Venkman were known on set — Spengler died sometime before the events of Afterlife, centered on struggling single mother Callie (Carrie Coon) and her children, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), who discover ghostbusting equipment belonging to their mysterious grandfather when they relocate to the sleepy town of Summerville, Oklahoma.

"Well, we are a man down. That's the deal," Murray told Vanity Fair when the magazine visited the film's set in September. "And that's the story that we're telling, that's the story they've written."

Writer-director Reitman won't yet outright confirm the family of new characters are Egon's descendants, ties hinted at in the film's first trailer in December. Following a first-look at the family when filming commenced in July, fans quickly noted Grace's character resembled Egon — whose love for the sciences has been inherited by his spectacled granddaughter.

"Before I ever thought I could make a Ghostbusters film, the image of a 12-year-old girl carrying a proton pack popped into my head and just wouldn't leave. Eventually, I knew who she was," Reitman said. "I'm floored by the idea of what it would be like to find a proton pack in your grandparents' basement. What would that discovery reveal about who you are and what adventures you're about to go on?"

Reitman put his idea into motion with Monster House scribe Gil Kenan, who directed Murray in 2008's City of Ember. When Murray and his original Ghostbusters co-stars received the Afterlife script last spring, it impressed the famously choosy Murray.

"The script is good. It's got lots of emotion in it. It's got lots of family in it, with through lines that are really interesting," Murray said. "It's gonna work."

In November — after confirming the returns of the surviving OGBs alongside Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts, back as Dana Barrett and Janine Melnitz, respectively — Aykroyd said Afterlife will pay tribute to Ramis, who died in February 2014.

"I miss him a lot. He was, of course, a really intelligent, great writer and collaborator," Aykroyd said of his Ghostbusters co-writer on The Greg Hill Show. "We paid tribute to him in the movie that Paul Feig made with the girls [Ghostbusters: Answer the Call], he was there in a bust, and Billy and I showed up to work on that because we had faith on that vision. So we paid tribute to Harold there, and of course, we'll recognize him in this film in some way, however small."

Aykroyd also said the then-untitled film, at the time known only as GB20, is "gonna be scary, it's gonna be thought-provoking, it's gonna be very heartfelt."

"You'll feel it, if you have loved ones that you miss and that you've lost, and you want to get back with," he added. "It'll be very evocative that way."

From director Jason Reitman and producer Ivan Reitman, comes the next chapter in the original Ghostbusters universe. In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, when a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind. The film is written by Jason Reitman & Gil Kenan.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife opens July 10.