How Harold Ramis’ Ghostbusters Performance Inspired Mckenna Grace In Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Mckenna Grace stands outside looking puzzled in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
(Image credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Ghost Corps)

The upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife is going to provide something we haven’t seen on screen since 1989, and that’s a direct sequel to the original Ghostbusters. Directed by Jason Reitman, Ghostbusters: Afterlife picks up with new characters in a new location, but they have ties to one particular, beloved character we know so well: Egon Spengler, played by the late great Harold Ramis. And in this movie, young Mckenna Grace plays Egon’s granddaughter, while also doing some very subtle homages to Ramis’ unique comedic approach. Watch her discuss the performance in the video above. 

This is not a spoiler, as the trailers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife have indicated that Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard and Carrie Coon were relatives of Egon Spengler, and unearth his Ghostbusters gear when they move to his deserted farm in the Midwest. But even just looking at the hair, the glasses, and the smarter-than-you posturing of Grace in the trailers suggest that she’s channeling Harold Ramis, without stealing from his originality. 

She and Jason Reitman reportedly had several conversations about how best to approach this, as McKenna Grace tells CinemaBlend:

I didn’t want to try and imitate something that didn’t need to be imitated. I didn’t want to try and be Egon. As much as Phoebe is a Spengler in name, and in the looks, and in the mannerisms, she’s still Phoebe! And so it was finding that really cool balance of Jason and I creating Phoebe together, and incorporating Harold Ramis’ performance.

The world lost Harold Ramis in 2014. Continuing the Ghostbusters franchise without him had to be emotionally taxing for all involved. Jason Reitman isn’t just a director. He’s the son of Ivan Reitman, the director of the first two Ghostbusters films. This is a legacy they are attempting to build on, and a lot of that falls to Mckenna Grace as she personifies the person in the story with the intelligence to see through the paranormal of everything that’s happening. Much like Egon did, and would have had he been part of Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Phoebe doesn’t have to go it alone this time out. She does have a new friend in Podcast (Logan Kim), her older brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), and her inquisitive science teacher (Paul Rudd) to call when things get chaotic. And boy, do they ever. I’m not talking about Manhattan in the 1980s. But there’s enough strange stuff happening in Phoebe’s new hometown to make you want to strap on a proton pack and explore who the Dirt Farmer was. 

To reveal any more would be to spoil, so you will just have to wait and see how the rest of Ghostbusters: Afterlife connects to the existing Ghostbusters movies when the film opens in theaters on November 19.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.