WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS POTENTIALLY HUGE SPOILERS FOR GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE
Do not read any further if you want to remain totally unspoiled. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
We know that the upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife is set in a world where Egon Spengler is no longer with the Ghostbusters, and a creepy old farm house has been left to his daughter and her kids in the middle of nowhere. We know this used to belong to him as we see his Ghostbusters uniform and his lovingly assembled collection of mould, spores and fungus in the trailer for the movie.
What we did not know is how the movie would handle his passing, both as a character and how they would honor the actor in real-life who sadly passed away.
Harold Ramis, who co-wrote the original Ghostbusters film with co-star Dan Aykroyd, died in 2014 due to complications regarding his autoimmune disease at the age of 69. Ramis was a skilled comedy writer with a credit in some of the greatest American comedy movies of all time such as Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, and Groundhog Day. Not only was his writing key, but the character personality of Ego Spengler was a key part of the Ghostbusters dynamic.
Ray Stanz is the loveable, pure believer doofus. Peter Venkman the cynical, sarcastic sceptic. Winston Zeddemore the average guy just in it for the paycheck. Ramis’ Egon Spengler was the ultimate straight-man and a perfect foil for Venkman. His line delivery and mannerisms were dead pan perfection and as essential an ingredient to the success of the was first two movies as any other.
The need for all four actors to want to return and to approve the script was a key stumbling block to Ghostbusters 3 ever arriving. For years it was impossible to get alignment. We all know how what went wrong after that… don’t we?
Bill Murray recently gave an interview where he was uncharacteristically wistful when discussing Ramis, saying he would be
“…so greatly missed, for so many reasons.”
There was a fear that the new Ghostbusters movie would never come, and definitely not with the surviving original cast members. If it did, it would have to move on entirely without him.
However the credits for the new movie will include a writing credit for Harold Ramis, alongside Dan Akroyd and director Jason Reitman, son of original director Ivan. Harold Ramis and Dan Akroyd collaborated on several scrips for Ghostbusters 3 over the years, all of which featured the character of Egon.
It was heavily rumored that at least one of the Ghostbusters died in several versions of these scripts, primarily to please Bill Murray who stated once that he would only come back if he could be a ghost. Something happened after Ramis’ death and Ghostbusters 2016 that made the remaining cast team-up with new director Reitman.
In a recent EW interview, Aykroyd let slip that Egon will be represented in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, but left details vague:
“To have that formation without that man standing right there on the line with us was a pretty serious adjustment.
He will be very well represented in the new film, I can tell you that. He’s very honorably represented.”
Does this mean we can expect more than nostalgia tinged glimpses? Is he presumed dead because he disappeared? Is that why the farmhouse is abandoned? What was he doing in that hidden lab? Are we to expect ghost Egon to join the Ghostbusters at some point in this adventure?
Apparently Ramis’ own daughter, Violet Ramis Stiel, apparently gave her blessing to CGI representations of her late father appearing in the movie as long as it effectively served the story. Is this why Ackroyd, who is notoriously talkative whenever the subject of movement on new Ghostbusters adventures is mentioned, would not be drawn any further on what he meant?