The four lead actors in the original Ghostbusters became instant icons when the film first debuted in 1984. Though stars Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd had already appeared in hit movies and been on Saturday Night Live for a number of years, they, along with Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson, became immediate favorites for a new breed of fans who were too young to have seen films like Stripes, The Blues Brothers, and Caddyshack when they first debuted. When Ghostbusters was in the early planning stages though, this team was almost very, very different, but perhaps would have had just as big an impact.
Though it has been previously reported on and talked about, one of the episodes of the new Netflix series The Movies That Made Us has fresh interviews with the creative team behind the film who talk about the original plans for the movie. Star and screenwriter Dan Aykroyd opened up about his initial ideas for the movie, saying it would have starred he and two different SNL alums in the lead roles.
"I wrote it for Eddie Murphy," he said. "It was me, John Belushi, and Eddie Murphy. We were supposed to be the original Ghostbusters."
Aykrod confirmed that the role he wrote for Murphy was none other than the part that would become Bill Murray's Peter Venkman. One reason this didn't happen was Murphy himself, who reportedly turned down the project when Aykroyd pitched it to him on the set of Trading Places.
"I was like, 'This sounds like a crock ... to me,'" Murphy told Extra back in 2003.
Another reason unfortunately was the untimely passing of Belushi from a drug overdose. Aykrord was even working on the script when he heard of Belushi's death.
"The morning that John died I was typing a line out for him," Aykrod said. "I got the call that he had gone, so even though he wasn't there anymore I finished the movie."
"It was really meant as a two hander," director Ivan Reitman said. "They were already working as a team in The Blues Brothers and he was looking for some other thing (do to together)."
As fans already know, Belushi did make an appearance of sorts in the movie anyway as the iconic ghost "Slimer" was modeled after the late comedian as a tribute to him by his friend. Ghost Effects creator Steve Johnson recounted that process in the episode as well.
"The night before (Slimer) was meant to approved, all the executives were coming by the next morning to sign off on him, I get a note saying 'He's gotta look like John Belushi.' His buddies Harold (Ramis) and Dan decided this was a way to keep him in the movie as a slobby, obnoxious ghost like his Bluto character in Animal House. And that's exactly what it was but I'm thinking 'It's a smile with arms, how am I going to get this to look like John Belushi?'"
Johnson went on to reveal that he didn't actually modify his design for the creature, but that they were happy with it anyway, even proclaiming that "it looks just like Belushi."
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