Ghostbusters Stars Remember Late Collaborator and Friend Harold Ramis

Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman and stars Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and William Atherton remembered late co-writer and Egon Spengler star Harold Ramis when celebrating the blockbuster’s 35th anniversary at Ghostbusters Fan Fest.

“When I got to do Stripes, I immediately thought, ‘Well, Harold should co-partner with Bill Murray,’ that they would be great together, because I had seen them together. It was this sort of secret knowledge that I had, and it was a great pleasure to work with him,” Reitman said.

“We ended up working together about five or six times in our lives, and really, I always thought of him as this brother of mine. And it’s really a terrible sadness to have lost him when we did.”

Ramis, who died in February 2014 at the age of 69 from complications related to autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, was a well-researched funnyman who helped rein in an originally outlandish Ghostbusters treatment turned in by Aykroyd that was set in the future and featured multiple teams of supernatural exterminators.

“I miss him as a collaborator, it was wonderful to write with him because he was so knowledgeable. Although he wasn’t a believer in the supernatural, he knew all about the research that was being done around the world ... he knew all that stuff that my great grandfather had turned on to me, through my dad and my grandfather, he knew all those references,” Aykroyd said.

“And then of course, he knew what we were trying to do, to marry all of that real vernacular and all of the real science to the ghost movies of the ‘30s: Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, The Bowery Boys, they all did ghost movies. He knew exactly what we were trying to connect with, and he was just a great, great writing partner. And wonderful to work with as an actor, and just one of the funniest, most intelligent and non-hysterical people I’ve met [laughs].”

Like Ramis’ big-brained Egon, described by Reitman as the “brains” of the Ghostbusters — Aykroyd’s Ray Stantz being the heart, Hudson’s Winston Zeddemore the backbone, and Murray’s Peter Venkman the mouth — Ramis was a steady presence for Hudson.

“I had been working as an actor for ... maybe about 15 years I’d been an actor, but really started working in film and TV a couple years before, so this, it was different. And these guys, I love ‘em dearly, but there’s a little bit of insanity involved in the arts, a lot of things going on,” Hudson admitted with a laugh.

“It’s moving really fast, and I’m trying to sort of keep up. Harold was always, for me, the go-to guy. Harold, he would always take the time and we would always talk about it, and he would look at me when I was kind of going, ‘What the hell?’ And Harold would go, ‘Ernie,’ and it was like, I knew it was okay. I learned a lot just from the way he conducted himself and he carried himself, and it helped me to sort of remember to always keep my balance. He always seemed to be balanced and I appreciate that about him. I’ve always felt very close to him I think because of it, because I did, I learned a lot from him.”

Added Aykroyd of Ramis, it was “a wonderful thing to see him smile and make him laugh. That was a big reward.”

For Atherton, whose fussy EPA agent Walter Peck dogged the Ghostbusters at every turn, Ramis was a consummate professional.

“I didn’t know him before, I didn’t have a great deal to do with him making it, but every single time I had anything to do with it, it meant something. And I found him a man of extraordinary goodness and great taste,” Atherton said.

“He had an innate, deep taste about what was good, what was appropriate, and he was calm, but you always felt whatever insanity was going around, he was marshaling in his head in a way that was gonna make everything good. That’s how I felt. You could trust his criticism. And that is a great thing.”

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Reitman’s son, Jason Reitman, will in July step behind the camera on production of the untitled GB20. Reitman’s film will utilize unearthed footage from the 1984 original and act as a sequel to Ghostbusters and 1989’s Ghostbusters II.

Sony has dated the picture July 10, 2020.

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