10 Ecto-Cool Things We Learned On The Ghostbusters Set

We’re now just a few months away from the theatrical release of director Paul Feig’s Ghostsbusters, and while we’ve seen a good bit of footage and a handful of images from the movie, big details are also being kept purposefully mysterious and hidden prior to the film’s arrival. Lucky for you, we got a very special look behind the scenes of the movie when it was in production last year, and can provide you with some info about the cool things we learned.

Last September, I hopped on a plane to Boston, Massachusetts, and along with a small group of other film journalists, had the opportunity to watch some of the production in addition to interviewing Ghostbusters’ lead actors and filmmakers. We learned a lot of great stuff, so read on for a fun inside scoop on the new movie!


The finale is a huge showdown in Times Square

Given that the movie was shooting in Boston, we did actually get to see the Ghostbusters in the middle of the real Times Square, but we did get to watch them fight their final battle against a bunch of ghosts in a large green screen environment meant to represent the famous tourist center of Manhattan. For spoiler reasons, we weren’t provided a great deal of context in regards to who all of the ghosts were and why they were attacking the Ghostbusters, but one thing that was made very clear is that the spirits all come from different eras – from the colonial period to the swinging 1920s. From Melissa McCarthy being strung up on wires and dragged around the set, to the wide variety of gadgets used by the whole team, it was a wild scene to see them shoot, and looks like it will be a lot of fun up on the big screen.


The ghosts are not all just CGI creations

As you may have guessed from the fact that we saw ghosts attacking the Ghostbusters in Times Square, Paul Feig’s movie isn’t just using CGI for his wicked spirits, but using real performers and performances that will be enhanced by visual effects. On beyond the different period costumes, the various souls had a wide variety of different looks – with some flying through the air, and others up on tall stilts. One thing that they all had in common was the fact that they were wearing special rigs covered in blue LED lights, giving them all a very special glow. This is something that will obviously be enhanced by computers in post-production, but when you see characters bathed in blue light when you actually see Ghostbusters, know that the eerie glow is actually natural.


Chris Hemsworth wouldn’t stop making his co-stars crack up

The cast of Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters is filled with tons of funny people – with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon just being the top of a very long list – but we were told by just about everyone we interviewed that it was Chris Hemsworth who really had everybody laughing on set. McCarthy called him one of the best improvisors who she has ever worked with, and noted that he actually had her crying with laughter on his first day on set. Co-writer Katie Dippold agreed with this assessment, telling us that she had never laughed as hard as she did while watching the group shoot together. On top of that, the Australian actor just impressed the cast by being such a great guy, Leslie Jones telling us,

I honestly believe that he’s done all these serious roles and this role, he got to be silly, so he just went all the way for it. He was so good too. I mean, very funny.


Ectoplasm feels super, super gross

Ectoplasm has been an important part of the Ghostbusters franchise ever since Peter Venkman had his unfortunate run-in with Slimer in the halls of the The Sedgewick hotel, and it will continue to have an important presence in Paul Feig’s upcoming reboot. As a special treat for the group of journalists visiting the set, we were given the opportunity to dunk our fingers into a beaker full of the stuff, and I can now report from first-hand experience that the goo is quite disgusting. It manages to be sticky and gooey while also being runny – which meant that it took a bit of time to completely get off my hand – and basically has the consistency of snot. I definitely now have a degree of sympathy for the actors who found themselves covered from head to toe with the stuff on particular days of production.


Melissa McCarthy really learned to love doing wirework

As mentioned earlier, one of the most impressive stunts we saw while hanging out on the Ghostbusters set was Melissa McCarthy’s character, Abby Yates, getting picked up by a ghost and hanging upside-down while swinging across the set. The actress did all of this wirework herself, and when we spoke to her afterwards she explained that the action was stuff that she was actually encouraging and volunteering for. She told us that it’s something that she doesn’t really get to do a lot in the movies she makes, so when she gets the option, "[She] take it when [she] can get it." Given her close relationship with Paul Feig, having previously worked with him on Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy, one can imagine the director being happy to oblige, so it will be something we will definitely be looking for when we finally see the movie.


Jillian Holtzmann’s necklace Features A Special Message

As you may have grasped from the footage that has been shown thus far, Kate McKinnon’s Jillian Holtzmann is just a bit eccentric. From her strange hair-do to the fun anti-ghost gadgets she’s able to concoct in the Ghostbusters laboratory, she clearly stands out as the group’s wild card. A great expression of this can actually be found hanging around her neck, though it’s something that the movie may not actually put direct focus on. If you look closely enough, you’ll notice that the round piece of jewelry features a giant "U," and it has a screw laced through it. Perhaps a message to all the haters out there, in addition to giving us a clue into the character’s attitude.


The characters definitely won’t just be copies of the original team

Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters is definably a reboot; not a remake. The movie will not be set in the same continuity as the original Ivan Reitman films, and audiences shouldn’t expect the return of Gozer The Gozerian. In the same way, fans also really shouldn’t expect the team of women in the new movie to be female versions of the characters from the original either – or as co-writer Katie Dippold put it,

You need all new characters, because there’s never going to be a new Venkman, like Bill Murray’s Venkman. That will never change. So we just tried to come up with four new characters that we thought were really funny, and then we kind of came up with dynamics between them. That part is all new.

Thanks to various references and gags, and structure as an origin story, there certainly will be shared elements in the new movie, but a carbon copy it will not be.


Chris Hemsworth’s glasses were very specifically chosen

Thanks to his part as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and featured titles like Snow White And The Huntsman and Blackhat, audiences primarily identify Chris Hemsworth as a dramatic actor. As mentioned earlier, however, Ghostbusters is a real departure for him – and costume designer Jeffrey Kurland actually actively tried to reflect this in the character’s look. You probably noticed in stills and footage that Hemsworth is sporting a pair of thick-rimmed glasses in the movie, and this choice was specifically to make Kevin look different than every other role the Aussie has played:

He wanted to create a character that was different from his persona and we thought the glasses will be great to break away from that. So we tried on several pairs to see what suited the character that he wanted to play and that was the best one.


Carrying a proton pack made Leslie Jones lose a lot of weight

This probably won’t come as a surprise to anybody, but the Ghostbusters’ proton packs are exactly the most comfortable things in the world. They are basically big blocks of plastic, metal and electrical wiring that the members of the cast had to wear on their backs for hours during production. This surely must have been a bit tough on the four leads, but Leslie Jones experienced one positive outcome from the experience: she lost a good amount of weight. While talking with the Saturday Night Live star, she told us that she actually lost a total of 27 pounds thanks to all of the time spent carrying her proton pack and running around during action sequences. The time on set also resulted in her needing to meet with a chiropractor twice a week and taking plenty of Epsom salt baths, but in this world you take the good with the bad.


One particular ghost interaction really did creep out the cast

When viewed on a genre level, Ghostbusters is a horror-comedy, and director Paul Feig has spoken about the fact that he wants the film to illicit a few screams in addition to all of the expected laughs. Curious about this aspect of the movie, I asked Melissa McCarthy and Kristin Wiig about any freaky moments during production, and both reflected on one particular sequence set in a subway tunnel. During the scene, their characters are chased down a tunnel by a speedy ghost covered in heavy prosthetics and blue lights, and apparently they received a few good shoves. Evidently it was quite the creepy experience for the women, and even though McCarthy has actually known the guy for a decade, it still managed to freak her out. Said Wiig,

He was glowing with blue lights, and his teeth, and he was above us, going at a speed, and we sort of had to run away from him. There was one take where he went faster than normal and we were like, ‘Oh my God!’

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our coverage from the set of Ghostbusters, so be sure to stay tuned for more in the coming days. And look for the film in theaters on July 15th!

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.