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SPOILER ALERT The following article contains spoilers for Paul Feig's Ghostbusters. If you have not yet seen the film, and don't wish to know any major or minor details before having the opportunity, please click away to another one of our wonderful articles!
Paul Feig's Ghostbusters was able to keep a lot of details secret within its marketing campaign, and one of the most significant elements kept hush-hush was the role of the villain. We knew he was named Rowan, was being played by actor Neil Casey, and had an evil plan involving ghosts, but that was about it. In the film we learn that he is trying to jump start paranormal activity in order to give him access to great power, but he almost had a different goal entirely: he was going to summon a dark god to destroy the world.
Rowan's mission in the new Ghostbusters was something that I talked at length about with the movie's co-writer, Katie Dippold, during the blockbuster's Los Angeles press day earlier this month. Discussing the character's development, she explained that there was a tremendous number of ideas in play, including one that would have seen the antagonist summoning a Zuul-level villain who the Ghostbusters would have to presumably defeat in a battle in the streets of New York. Said the filmmaker,
I think in a very early pitch Paul wanted it to be someone who was electrocuted - if I remember correctly. I can't remember, but I think for Rowan... there are so many different versions of Rowan. This is the one thing that makes my brain fry. There was actually a draft where what Rowan was doing was trying to bring in something like a dark god.
So why didn't Paul Feig and Katie Dippold move forward this idea over what we see in the finished version of the film? Basically the plot idea wound up being too complicated (probably because it had to work alongside the formation of the titular team), and it was an attempt to simplify things that eventually gave them the version of Rowan that we see Neil Casey perform:
But then something about it just started to feel complicated. It just felt like too much. So then it kind of streamlined to this man who was once bullied that was just bringing in an army of bad ghosts - testing it. It was just a test, but then he's going to like rip open this barrier and then also he was going to come back in this form of some scary ghost. Once he saw that it worked, then he'd scare the shit out of everyone.
What's funny is that the complications involving Rowan didn't actually stop there. In our interview, Katie Dippold referred to her fellow Upright Citizens Brigade colleague Neil Casey as the funniest person she knows -- and that wound up being a bit of an issue when they were working on a Ghostbusters scene that was actually supposed to be scary.
It was tricky. He had so many funny lines that he improvised; I feel like he was a crew favorite. He would make them laugh so hard. But I think in the end Paul had to cut a lot of that stuff so it didn't undercut the tension.
What did you think of Rowan's ultimate mission in Ghostbusters? Would you have rather seen him summon a dark god like Zuul, or did Katie Dippold and Paul Feig make the right call with the more original storyline? Hit the comments below with your thoughts!