With his new take on the Ghostbusters franchise, director Paul Feig proves he really understands funny women.
The ingredients of a Ghostbusters reboot ought to be a guaranteed recipe for success: an all-star cast led by box-office champions Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig; clever cameos by many of the original film’s cast members; fan-favorite elements like the Ecto-1 vehicle, proton packs, slime and ghost traps. Yet, it admittedly takes a brave man—or woman—to reshape such a beloved franchise. “This has been very, very much a high-wire act,” admits director Paul Feig, the courageous man in question. “When you do anything original, the whole mission is trying to figure out how to make people actually care about it. With this one, everybody’s very invested. You break down the psychology of the audience and try to get inside their heads. What are they expecting? How can we subvert that? It’s a whole other game.”
Feig is no stranger to rising to the occasion. After a few commercial flops in the early 2000s nearly determined the character actor-turned-film director’s professional fate, surprise hit Bridesmaids, followed by The Heat and Spy, quickly established him as a talented comedy director with a knack for showcasing exceptional female talent. “I love funny women,” says the L.A.-based director. “My only frustration now is, I can’t create enough roles to house all the funny women I know.” That said, Feig thinks it’s time to retire labels like “all-female” when describing casts or targeted audiences. “Why is it a gimmick that four women star in a movie, and it’s not a gimmick that four men would star in a movie? I just wanted talented performers, and the most talented, funniest people that I happen to know and want to work with are women,” he says.
While Feig anticipated fans would be protective of the original films, the internet eruption caused by the reboot took him by surprise. “I knew people were passionate about it, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t think it was going to bring up this level of negative passion,” he says. “I’m thrilled that I’m doing something that people actually care about and are passionate about. I just hope they like and judge it on its own merit.”
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