In GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE, from director Jason Reitman, comes the next chapter in the original Ghostbusters universe. When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.
Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Shannon McGrew had the chance to speak with actor Carrie Coon (Gone Girl, The Leftovers) where they discussed everything from how she came to be involved with GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE, the backstory behind the character of Callie, and – most importantly – whether she would choose Munch or the Mini-Pufts. Because, you know, we have our priorities here at Nightmarish Conjurings.
To kick things off, what was your reaction when you found out that you were going to be part of such a beloved franchise?
Carrie Coon: It’s totally surreal, of course. It still is. It doesn’t quite feel real, even though I’ve seen the movie. Jason called me and invited me to the Sony lot to read a script in secret. The Ecto-1 is actually parked on the lot, so I walked by it but it didn’t really occur to me. Then I read it and I was like, oh, holy mother, this is a Ghostbusters movie. What’s really shocking about it for me is that I come from the television/independent film drama world and being thought of for a part like this in a movie that’s ostentatiously part comedy, it’s unusual for me. I was really grateful to Jason for trusting me with that kind of material. And then, of course, the larger implications of it, it’s hard for me to even wrap my head around it. I imagine I’ll be hearing this [Ghostbusters] music on any talk show appearance I do for the rest of my life and will probably be the headline of my obituary [Laughs].
When it came to Callie, did Jason give a backstory to her, or was her character what you saw on the page?
Carrie Coon: It’s not relevant to the story we’re telling. In some ways, it’s just relevant to how I show up. For my personal process, oftentimes when a script is really well-written all you need is already there on the page. I could tell you that I sat down and wrote a 17-page biography of Callie, but that would be a lie [Laughs]. The writing is so specific and the relationship dynamics on the page were so specific, that’s really all you need. But I had read Violet Ramis’s biography, “Ghostbuster’s Daughter: Life with My Dad, Harold Ramis” where she talks about the relationship with Harold Ramis. There are some complicated situations in that book that she’s very, very honest about. At the same time, Harold is certainly beloved by her and by everybody who knew him, as far as I can tell. So some of that was part of my building of that backstory. I’m a mom myself and I come from a family with brothers and sisters, and what’s great about Jason Reitman’s filmmaking is that he really does write those dynamics really realistically. I think those relationships are really recognizable and that’s part of the strength of the film, that it’s grounded in real stakes. Callie is broke. That’s real. Callie doesn’t understand her daughter. That’s real. So, it’s not really about ghosts [Laughs].
You brought up that Callie is a struggling mom. She has two kids, Phoebe and Trevor, played by Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard, respectively. How was it exploring the family dynamic with them? Additionally, you have a lot of scenes with Paul Rudd’s character, Mr. Grooberson. How was that experience?
Carrie Coon: Mckenna has made more movies than me. She’s an extraordinary actress and she’s a genuine fan of the franchise. She dressed up as a Ghostbuster before she ever got to put a proton pack on. I was in the callback audition when she put it on for the first time and she was genuinely crying. She was really moved by it. It was kind of extraordinary to realize that kids her age were so aware of the film. It came out when I was three so it was part of my whole life, but to know that this generation is already so familiar with it before the movie even comes out…I knew the impact of the film in the world. It’s worldwide, but I guess I didn’t realize how young kids were being exposed to it by their parents. Finn, who’s of course had the Stranger Things moment blow up, gets recognized by people of all ages on the street [but] he’s such a grounded kid. He so understands all of that. My son was on set with us and he loved being around all of them. He was sort of the kid on the set like how Jason was the kid on the second original film. So it was really easy for us to fall into a family dynamic. We just had a really good time and it’s just well cast by Jason and his casting director.
And then Paul Rudd…the kids all know who Paul Rudd is and I’ve been watching him since before I had a career. He’s just as delightful and funny and fun as you can imagine. He really made all of those scenes much easier to play in. And Jason was certainly open to us playing around with the dialogue. Jason’s a specific filmmaker, but he’s totally open to collaboration and he wants the best version of a story he can tell. So Paul was really brought in because he could bring that kind of spontaneous Apatow sensibility, and he delivers every time. He’s just a delightful human being.
What did you enjoy most about playing Callie and exploring what the character had to offer?
Carrie Coon: The heart of Jason Reitman’s film is in the relationship dynamics. His scripts are really specific and so there are many ways in which this film feels like all of Jason’s other films. It doesn’t feel like a big tent pole movie because he and co-writer Gil Kenan really focused on those relationships. What I love about Callie is that she’s not maybe a great mom, she was pretty distracted. There’s a lot of benign neglect going on. We kind of decided she was probably a hairdresser. She’s also not good at science and she’s not good at math, and that’s okay. She’s a working woman who doesn’t have any money and she’s really stressed out. And that to me felt really real. The performance is dedicated to all the moms out there who left the workforce during the pandemic, I hope it feels real to them.
And, for my most serious question of them all, if you had to choose between Muncher or the Mini Pufts, which would you choose?
Carrie Coon: Oh man, that’s great. Okay, the Mini Pufts are so obviously cute, so delightful. They’re going to be a crowd-pleaser, but something about Muncher’s face…The first time I saw it, this is going to sound weird and I’m going to regret saying it, I have a 13-week-old baby and there was something about Muncher that reminded me of my baby [Laughs]. I had this weird tenderness for Muncher because I have a newborn that reminds me of Muncher [Laughs]. She’s gonna read this someday and she’ll be in therapy. It’ll be fine. She’ll have a therapist. It’ll be great.
GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE will arrive exclusively in movie theaters on November 19. For more on the film, check out our review here.
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