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Harold Ramis in Ghostbusters

Unlike the 2016 reboot, this summer’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a continuation of the classic Ghostbusters film series, and as such it will see the return of the original cast, including Bill Murray. But one person who won’t and can’t be back is actor Harold Ramis, who passed away in 2014. And lest you think the new movie will ignore that fact, Ghostbusters: Afterlife will address the death of Harold Ramis. That’s according to Bill Murray, who said:

Well, we are a man down. That’s the deal. And that’s the story that we’re telling, that’s the story they’ve written.

The loss of Harold Ramis is not easily brushed over, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife will not breeze past or give merely a cursory acknowledgement of the absence of Dr. Egon Spengler. On the contrary, according to Bill Murray, the fact that Egon is gone and the original Ghostbusters are a man down is the whole thing.

The actor who plays Dr. Peter Venkman in the franchise told Vanity Fair that the story that they’re telling in Ghostbusters: Afterlife is very much about the fact that Egon isn’t around anymore. So by the sound of it, the absence of the character played by Harold Ramis and how that has affected the people in his life, including his family, will be a central part of the story of the film directed and co-written by Jason Reitman.

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Bill Murray’s comments about the film comport with what many Ghostbusters fans have suspected for a while, but has yet to be officially confirmed, following the release of a cast photo and the first trailer for the movie. Namely, that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the story of the descendants of the original Ghostbusters team, specifically Egon Spengler.

In the trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, we see McKenna Grace’s Phoebe, whose glasses evoke our memory of Harold Ramis’ Egon. We also hear her in the trailer talking about her grandfather and how she and her mother, played by the amazing Carrie Coon, are picking through the rubble of his life. Combine that with the fact she has a ghost trap, and this puzzle isn’t too hard to put together.

You can even see Egon Spengler’s Ghostbusters uniform in a shot in the trailer. Take a look:

Egon Spengler's uniform

As Bill Murray indicated, Ghostbusters: Afterlife will clearly be dealing the fact that Harold Ramis is no longer with us and neither is his character Egon Spengler, and from there all the consequences of that unfortunate reality. The real question becomes if the ‘How?’ Egon died will prove to be an important part of the story or not.

For a film that is about ghosts and subtitled Afterlife to be in part about the loss of a family member, and on a metatextual level about the loss of a beloved actor, feels appropriate. In a way, it seems like Ghostbusters: Afterlife will act as a tribute of sorts, both to the franchise’s past and Harold Ramis in particular, but doing so in a way that allows new faces to be brought in and an original new Ghostbusters story to be told.

Bill Murray reunites with Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts for Ghostbusters: Afterlife and they are joined by newcomers McKenna Grace, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Paul Rudd and Bokeem Woodbine.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife haunts theater screens starting on July 10. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to keep track of all the other big movies coming this year.

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