Ghostbusters makes its long-awaited return, rebooted with a cast of hilarious new characters. Thirty years after the beloved original franchise took the world by storm, director Paul Feig brings his fresh take to the supernatural comedy, joined by some of the funniest actors working today - Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth.
Columbia Pictures presents in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, an Ivan Reitman production, Ghostbusters. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Charles Dance, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Chris Hemsworth. Directed by Paul Feig. Produced by Ivan Reitman and Amy Pascal. Written by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig. Based on the 1984 film Ghostbusters, an Ivan Reitman film, written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. Executive Producers are Paul Feig, Jessie Henderson, Dan Aykroyd, Tom Pollock, Joe Medjuck, Ali Bell, and Michele Imperato Stabile. Director of Photography is Robert Yeoman, ASC. Production Designer is Jefferson Sage. Editors are Brent White, ACE and Melissa Bretherton. Visual Effects Supervisor is Peter G. Travers. Special Visual Effects by Sony Pictures Imageworks. Costume Designer is Jeffrey Kurland. Music by Theodore Shapiro. Music Supervision by Erica Weis.
More than 30 years after the first film debuted... more than 25 years after ghosts were last busted on screen... the long wait is finally over. Ghostbusters is returning, with a new team and new characters in a new adventure.
The new film began with director Paul Feig, who, as the creator of Freaks and Geeks and the director of Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy, has built an impressive comedy resume of some of recent years' most successful, groundbreaking, and memorable comedies. Given the opportunity to reboot the franchise, it was Feig who saw a way to bring one of his personal comedy influences into the 21st century. "I was an enormous fan when Ghostbusters first came out", he says. "I saw it the opening weekend in the theater and had honestly never seen a comedy do what that movie did to that audience. People, including myself, just lost our minds, not only because it was funny. It was the funniest people - we all loved Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, so seeing them together - this supergroup of funny guys - made it even better. But the thing that put it over the top was the context of an enormous world of fighting ghosts with technology... that's the greatest idea in the world. It's one of these things that make you say, 'I wish I had thought of that idea.'"
Naturally, the idea for another Ghostbusters - as a sequel - was one that had been explored for quite a while. "I've always wanted to do another sequel", says Ivan Reitman, who directed and produced the first two iconic films in the franchise, and now produces the new film with Amy Pascal. "It's one of those movies that you should revisit and I was really hoping that I could do it. But unless we all agreed on something, it wasn't going to get done. Getting four people - especially these four people - to agree was kind of impossible. And then, unfortunately, we lost Harold."
With the passing of Harold Ramis in 2014, the studio and Reitman began to look for a new comedic talent to take the helm of a future film. That's when Feig entered the picture. "I knew they'd been trying to put together a sequel for a long time", says Feig.
"I started wracking my brain. Funny people fighting the paranormal is still the greatest idea ever, and it felt like there was still so much to explore outside the worlds of the first two films. I thought, 'How would I do it?' Well, I'd make it with the four funniest women I know. That excites me, because it makes it something new."
"Paul has been intent on doing a big tentpole movie with women, but it was hard to figure out the right film, with the right cast - the chemistry had to be right on every front", adds executive producer Jessie Henderson, who is Feig's producing partner. "We took our first stab at that with Spy, but his idea for Ghostbusters was an opportunity to take it to an even bigger level, with special effects, visual effects, and the ensemble cast."
Reitman was also excited about the opportunities for comedy in Feig's idea. "What's really exciting about Paul's take is that it's not about the gender", he says. "It's the friendship of four particular characters as they do something extraordinary."
With the studio and Reitman in his corner, Feig teamed with Katie Dippold to co-write the screenplay. "There was only one person I wanted to write this with, and that was Katie", says Feig of his co-writer on The Heat. "I've worked with her on other projects and I know she loves ghost stories. She loves scary movies. It was a match made in heaven."
"At first, we spent a lot of time talking about what we wanted the script to be", says Dippold. "There were so many different creative debates - what elements of the original do you want to see again? What should feel new? Then we talked about the story and the characters. Nobody wanted to do remakes of the original characters - Venkman will always be Venkman. So we came up with four new characters of our own."
"Paul was intent on making a movie that lived up to the spirit of the original but had a new reason for being", says Amy Pascal. "It always comes down to the characters, and that is what Paul has always been brilliant at creating."
It was in this way that Feig approached the film as an entirely new story as a new team answers the call. "I wanted the movie to start with our world today - a world that has never seen ghosts that we can prove", says Feig. "Our Ghostbusters have dedicated their lives to scientifically proving ghosts exist, but they're considered loonies, because there's no physical proof. But when they actually get to see the ghosts they've been trying to see for their whole lives, they're going to prove that their whole lives' mission was correct. They all have this common goal, and they complement each other."
So, Dippold and Feig created new characters who would mesh well as a team. He explains: "Abby is the paranormal expert; she's dedicated her life to studying ghosts. Erin is the physicist, who tries to bring a scientific grounding into it. Holtzmann, the engineer, can take the concepts that Abby and Erin come up with and actually build the physical equipment to fight them. And finally, Patty joins the group as the newcomer who knows the ins and outs of New York City, which will be one of the keys to solving where the ghosts are and what's happening to Manhattan."
"You've seen men as comedic eggheads but not since Elaine May in A New Leaf have women been portrayed as funny scientists", says Pascal. "It was a fresh and unique take on the material that needed to be told."
But writing the characters as complementary was only half of the challenge - Feig also had to cast the roles with actors who were hilarious and could bring them to life. Into these roles, Feig cast Melissa McCarthy as Abby, Kristen Wiig as Erin, Kate McKinnon as Holtzmann, and Leslie Jones as Patty.
"I think the reason why Melissa is one of the most successful comedians working today is that she brings an everyman quality to her work", says Reitman. "She brings great energy, great truth - she has a quality of being very funny and very real. People love her because she's here to represent them.
When it came to casting the role of Erin, Feig says McCarthy was already on board, which led to what seems like a first go-to candidate in her Bridesmaids co-star. "Kristen's name just kept coming up", Feig says, "but I didn't even know if she'd want to do it, because she's been showing what a great actress she is in so many dramas lately. Then, out of the blue, my wife was talking to Kristen and she said, 'Oh, I know Paul's doing Ghostbusters, and if he'd ever want me to do any little part in it, I'd love to.' That was music to my ears, because Kristen would be so good in this role. She's really one of the funniest people in the world - she makes me laugh and always has."
"For the role of Jillian Holtzmann, we needed an actress who could go outside the box", Reitman states. "I saw the extraordinary sketches in which Kate McKinnon plays Justin Bieber, and captures his essence in a totally original hilarious way. For Ghostbusters, she brings a unique, quirky, comedic energy to her role that is perfect! Kate is a comedic force to be reckoned with".
For the final role, Feig was struck by lightning. "I first saw Leslie Jones do a 'Weekend Update' segment. About a minute into her bit, I sat up and said to my wife, 'That's one of our Ghostbusters,'" says Feig. "We met, and we bonded over the fact that we both started in standup at about the same time, in the 1980s. She's such a big personality, but it's sincere - she's so passionate about everything she does. She commands the screen as Patty Tolan."
But one other reason why these four actresses were right for the roles was that beyond their individual talents, Feig knew they would blend well as a team, creating a whole that was even stronger than its individual components. "That's why it was important to me to cast actors who were friends in real life, because when you do that, you get a level of camaraderie, realness, and warmth between them that you don't sometimes get when you put actors together who don't know each other", Feig continues. "It's always been important to me - it's one of the reasons why I think Bridesmaids worked so well. Kristen and Melissa were Groundlings together, did Bridesmaids and 'Saturday Night Live' together. Kate and Leslie are on 'Saturday Night Live' right now. All four of them have worked together in various projects, and they all have a very different sense of humor that complements each other: Kristen is just so good at that contained, neurotic comedy that she keeps very fun; Kate is such a physical comedian, but has this inner oddness, providing the movie with a weirdo energy; Leslie is just an explosion that comes onto the set; and Melissa is the leader of the pack. You're really getting four very distinct characters, four very distinct personalities, whom also happen to be able to kick a lot of ghost ass."
Abby Yates is passionate about the paranormal and science in general. She's always been a believer - she's given up a lot for that belief, and she won't let the non-believers grind her down.
The role is played by Melissa McCarthy, who re-teams with Feig for the fourth time.
"Abby has always been the believer", says McCarthy. "It doesn't matter if people are making fun of her, which they always have. It doesn't matter if nobody else believes. It doesn't matter that people think she's crazy. She's just always believed in the paranormal. I just love that she's stayed the course, no matter what."
In their screenplay, Dippold and Feig created a friendship between Abby and Erin, who is played by Kristen Wiig. "Our characters were friends all through high school - they were the two eccentric girls who believed in ghosts and the paranormal", says McCarthy. "But they had a bad parting, because Erin didn't want to defend herself anymore, so she went in a more academic direction. Now, in the movie, they come back together. It's a little bumpy in the beginning, but you can tell that the history is there. And that's easy to portray with Kristen, because I've known her so long and she's one of the greatest people I know."
That chemistry extends to the entire foursome, McCarthy says. "Kate McKinnon is remarkable - she's a true kind of crazy, mad scientist that I just love watching. And to say that I adore Leslie Jones is an understatement...she is truly brilliant and no one else on Earth could do what she did with Patty."
Of the foursome together, she says, "It felt right. The first time all four of us were doing a scene, it made sense. It was really, really fun."
One of McCarthy's most memorable moments was trying on the proton pack for the first time. No movie magic here - McCarthy says that the prop is just as heavy as it looks. "Especially for what we have to do with them - we're diving, we're running, and we're fighting. Every time we get blown back by something and we land on our backs, there's sharp, heavy jagged metal", says McCarthy. "On the other hand, I hate when you can tell that somebody's running with something light, so I'm glad that's not what happens in this movie. We look like we're struggling because we are.'"
Ghostbusters allowed McCarthy to do many of her own stunts. "I really love all that stunt stuff", she says. "I'm asking to be thrown into things. I try to do everything they'll let me do. And then every once in a while Paul would have to say, 'No, you're not doing that. You're not getting dropped onto a car from 25 feet up.' And when he says that, I'm thinking, 'Yes, that makes sense,' but what I'd hear myself saying is 'Why not?' And Paul would say, 'You're insane,' and walk away."
One of the stunts that McCarthy was able to perform herself was crowdsurfing at a rock concert. "I've never done that before", she says. McCarthy notes that stunt work sometimes involves complicated rigs or wires, and she asked the stunt coordinator, Walter Garcia, what was the best way to perform a stage dive. "He said, 'The best way you do it is you run to the end of the stage and dive off.' Okay. Let's do that. The first take, I was a little tentative, but once I did it I knew I was in good hands. Of course, I realize there were ten stunt people out there waiting to catch me, so I'm not sure I'm going to try that in real life, but that was wildly fun."
Erin Gilbert believed in ghosts as a child, but as her physics career grew, she realized that her fascination with the paranormal was holding her back and hurting her credibility. She determines to put that old life behind her and forge a new career as a legitimate scientist... until her past comes back to haunt her.
The role is played by Kristen Wiig. "Erin grew up believing in ghosts - she actually saw a ghost when she was a child, and no one believed her except Abby. That really scarred her. She wanted to live a life where she wasn't the weird one, so she left the paranormal world behind and went into academia, becoming a professor at Columbia University. Of course, she finds Abby again and meets Holtzmann and Patty. As it turns out, they're these four misfits that find each other. I love that kind of story."
Like McCarthy, Wiig relished the chance to do stunts for the film. "It was unlike anything I've ever done before. We couldn't wait to get into the stunt rehearsals."
Wiig was similarly thrilled by the chemistry between the four Ghostbusters. "It's always a great experience when you can find that right project to work with your friends and people that you love", she says. "I've known Melissa for many, many years - we knew each other for almost 10 years before 'Bridesmaids.' She's just really, really fun to work with and we laugh all the time, so it was so nice to be together again. Leslie makes me laugh so hard with everything she does - every time Leslie said something, I would just lose it. It's a very funny character, but I don't even have words for what she does with every line - she's so specific and it comes directly from her. And Kate - Kate's the best. I find her so interesting. She's so fearless - she takes chances every scene. She does the unexpected, and it's always funny. I love watching her."
Jillian Holtzmann has always been an oddball. She thinks outside the box, doesn't follow social norms, and she likes putting things together, inventing things. She doesn't judge others but she gets a thrill out of pushing the buttons of uptight people, especially Erin.
"SNL" standout Kate McKinnon plays the engineer. "I loved the idea of playing a scientist", she says. "I like playing a woman character that doesn't revolve around a romance, which is rare in a movie. I'm so glad to have been given that opportunity."
"Holtzmann is a genius", McKinnon says, describing her character. "Holtzmann is the tech geek in all of this, which is usually the geekiest geek. She is in charge of perfecting the machinery that allows them to accomplish this mission. She is an essential creature. She's bizarre. She is freakish. She's full of joy. She is me. Yes, this is the closest character to my actual self that I've ever played, if that tells you anything."
"Kate was actually the first person I cast in my head", says Feig. "We had this part of Holtzmann - a really nutty, weirdo part, and if you know Kate, she's lovely but she's a nutty weirdo in the most wonderful way. We start casting by asking, 'Who could shine in this role?' Kate's been shining on 'SNL' but not in a film yet. There's something about her that's so charismatic - she's a movie star. It seemed like the part could be a great showcase for her, so it was a really easy decision."
"Holtzmann is the hard scientist, she's the nuts and bolts person", Feig explains. "I don't even know if Holtzmann has a passion for ghosts, but she has a passion for figuring out how to scientifically interact with ghosts, how to capture them, and how to use her skill to interact with them. She's the hardware nut, and once she starts perfecting her hardware - her proton packs and her synchrotrons and all that - she really starts to go crazy. I'm a big hardware geek, so it was really fun to invent so much cool new weaponry and to have Kate's character do it."
Patty Tolan was born and raised in NYC. She has always loved reading, especially nonfiction and New York City history - and discovering new things, including the paranormal - so really, she's an amateur NYC historian with as much knowledge as any of the other three. After she sees a ghost while on the job, not only does she know who to call, but she joins the team to lend her expertise.
Leslie Jones, another "SNL" star who has broken through in the past two seasons, takes the role. "I've been in this business long enough to not believe anything until you actually see it happen", Jones kids. "So when they were saying Ghostbusters, I was like, 'That's not really going to happen.' Then when I heard Paul might want me in the movie, I was like, 'That's not really going to happen; he'll cast Queen Latifah.' And then, I got a call saying that Paul wanted to meet with me - and I actually met with him on the same day they announced that I was going to be a cast member on 'SNL.' And even when I was sitting there meeting with Paul, all I kept thinking was, 'He's going to see who I really am, and he ain't going to put me in this movie.' But he said, 'That's what I want. I want you.' It still seems like a dream. I keep thinking that I'm going to wake up in my apartment in Santa Clarita, where I was before everything happened, and I'm going to wake up and go, 'Seriously, that was a great dream.'"
About her character, Jones says, "I really was into creating something that was realistic. If I was going to be the person that wasn't a scientist coming into this situation, then I was going to be the eyes for the audience. I'm bringing the audience into this situation as a regular person, and we're observing it together. They're going to be talking about ectoplasm, currents, ghosts, and portals, and somebody has to be the one who's going to ask, 'What's a portal? Where does it go? Why?' Patty brings the normalcy - she reads a lot of books, she knows everything about New York, she's a sponge for facts and keeps her mind open. It was important to me and to Paul that Patty is the one who says what the people are going to say in the audience."
Like McCarthy, Jones also got the chance to perform her own stage dive. "That was so fun", she says. "What was awesome is that Paul did the stunt before I did - we were totally willing to do it, but just a little nervous about jumping into the mats. Paul said, 'I'm not going to let you do something that I wouldn't do.' And all of a sudden, in his suit and everything, he dives into the mat. I was like, 'If this man can do this in his suit, I can do this.' And it was really fun! I got it on the second take but wanted to do it a couple more times. And that crowd was sick - they stayed energetic the whole time, chanting Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters. I was thinking, 'This is happening, for real.'"
Of course, once the Ghostbusters go into business for themselves, they need a little help out front. And what better help could they ask for than an attractive, dim-witted receptionist. Kevin might be a few apples shy of a barrel but he's good-natured and sweet, and when the chips are down, he's another Ghostbuster at heart - another misfit who finds a home.
For the role, Feig tapped the unexpected comedy chops of Chris Hemsworth. And even though his co-stars are comedy pros, they were impressed by his skill. "He's one of the best improvisers I've ever worked with", says Melissa McCarthy. ""}That completely threw me, because we were doing 18-minute takes during the interview scene and he was never thrown. He was saying some of the strangest stuff, completely in character - we had to hold for four minutes while Kristen and I tried to stop crying with laughter. He even started singing once, and I had to stop him... I guess he's just bionic."
"Kevin is a big, dumb puppy dog", says Hemsworth of his character. "He's full of enthusiasm and ambition, but he's completely naïve and looks at the world from a very, very different angle than everybody else. It's fun to play someone who is completely unaware."
"We made Kevin into a loveable kind of lunkhead who has gotten by on his looks, but he earnestly wants to be part of the group", says Feig. "It takes him a while to figure things out - Kevin's a little slow on the uptake - but once he gets it, he gets it. Chris turned him into a three-dimensional, hilarious character."
Just how clueless is Kevin? Check out his glasses. "From the start, I wanted to wear glasses, and Paul was cool with that. But the problem was, the lenses were reflecting the lights, so we took out the lenses - as if no one would notice. And then, midway through, I started scratching my eye, and Melissa started to laugh and said, 'You've got to do that again - and I'll try not to laugh.' And the more we thought about it, the more we thought it was perfect - the lenses kept getting dirty, so he took them out. That's a great, practical response, but only if you look at the world from a different angle from everyone else. He's quite unique."
Part of the charm of the original Ghostbusters film is the mix of low-tech and high-tech - cutting-edge technology that seems as if it had been kludged together in someone's shed.
So, in approaching the look of the gadgets, weapons, vehicles and props, production designer Jefferson Sage worked with Paul Feig to bring a similar aesthetic: while the looks have definitely been updated, the props retain the homemade feel - as if Holtzmann really were assembling them on her own. "We wanted to build in as much extra technology that was different from the original film as we could, and bring it into the modern day, but keep the garage-band spirit of it - it all looks like it was made of parts that were fished out of dumpsters behind electronics stores and colleges", Feig says. "We wanted people watching to think, 'If I was smart enough, I could build that stuff.'"
"The conceit is that these weapons are made in their own shop", says Sage. "Holtzmann is a brilliant engineer, but she's not a designer. She figures out how to make the weapon work, and then wraps it in some kind of casing - it's just a way to hold the technology, rather than something carefully designed. That was out starting point - we had to dig into Holtzmann's mind. We had to think like she would think."
As they dove deep into Holtzmann's wild brain, the designers began to focus on found objects and other materials that could be adapted to Holtzmann's purposes. "She's the type who'll find old pipes on the street and see a gun barrel", Sage continues. "You look at the weapons, and you think 'Well, that looks like a tin can, but they've done something to it.' The goal was to wed the familiar with the new purpose that Holtzmann would have concocted for the thing."
Another way the homemade quality came across in the new film is by showing an evolution and improvement in the creations, as McKinnon relates. "The evolution of the proton pack is a subplot in itself", says the actress. "In the beginning, there's a prototype that eventually evolves into a world-class proton machine. You can really see the changes that the technology goes through as a result of Holtzmann's efforts and brilliance. Initially, when they go to the subway to find their ghost, Holtzmann's pushing a huge cart, and she has to attach a horrific electric dog collar to Erin so that she can shoot it - that's really the first proton pack. And then, over time, Holtzmann figures out how to contain everything and make it more compact, so that they can wear it on their backs. The proton packs are still not tiny. They are not light. They are not convenient. But they are portable."
"Paul was very interested in how we portrayed the technology", Sage continues. "It's obviously fictitious, but Paul wanted it to feel real, like it could actually happen. We were able to reach out to a couple of physicists at MIT who were able to talk us through the real science that might be behind the fictitious devices - that was great, and they had a ball. They gave us a lot of real-life ideas that gave us an underpinning of the real world to everything the Ghostbusters use."
He's not kidding - real-life particle physicist James Maxwell, a postdoc at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, put aside the larger questions about the formation of the universe, becoming the film's technical consultant to help give the movie props a bit of real-world verisimilitude.
It wouldn't be a Ghostbusters movie without the Ecto-1, so naturally, the Ghostbusters' ride is in the film. But, just as the original film's weapons were updated, so too was the car. The original 1984 film used a retrofitted 1959 Cadillac ambulance, and for the new film, the filmmakers chose a similarly dated car. "We found a 1981-83 Cadillac hearse", says Feig. "We wanted to keep the fun of the original Ecto-1, but make it our own. I just loved the look of it - the sleek lines, but also that it's such a big boat. Also, a hearse felt appropriate for working with the undead. Once we had the car, Jefferson Sage and his team made this car really cool - I liked the idea of having a red roof on the Ecto-1. The story is that the car comes from Patty's uncle, so we decided he wanted people to go out of this life in style and that's why it has a red roof. I love the way it looks."
"Our idea was that the Ecto-1 is Holtzmann's mobile lab", says Sage. "A design illustrator went through multiple drafts of the car and what it might look like - from the way out there (outfitted with a satellite dish, etc.) to the more restrained. Ultimately, we decided that they wanted it to look not too sophisticated, again, to give the impression that Holtzmann could have built it herself."
But Sage didn't stop at the exterior. "We also designed the inside of the Ecto with pieces and parts and hanging gear", Sage continues. "We included places to hang weaponry, and the proton packs slide in and out of a sliding rack." That's a nod to the original film, in which the proton packs slide in and out of the ambulance's gurney.
Again, James Maxwell lent his expertise, weighing in on some of the real-world science that Holtzmann would need to know as she chooses the technology she'd bring into the field to do battle with the paranormal.
One assistant art director was assigned to the car exclusively for weeks, outfitting the roof with a series of machine-looking devices, harnesses, tubes, tanks, a siren, a loudspeaker, antenna, batteries, and more, to transform it into the Ecto-1.
This Ghostbusters film also introduces a new vehicle - Kevin's motorcycle, the Ecto-2. And if Holtzmann's designs have a homemade feel, they're homemade by a trained engineer who holds a Ph.D. On the other hand, Kevin's homemade bike shows his unique mind at work. (And because Kevin wouldn't have had the science training or expertise that Holtzmann has, the filmmakers chose not to have the real-life physicist Maxwell weigh in on the motorcycle.)
Production Designer Jefferson Sage was responsible for the overall look of the film, including the sets and locations.
For the Ghostbusters headquarters, the filmmakers were determined to make a nod to the original film while also making their own mark. The Ghostbusters explore a firehouse, which is deemed too expensive, before they set up shop in Chinatown, above a restaurant.
"When the Ghostbusters are short on money, they rent the upstairs space of a falling-down Chinese restaurant", says Sage. "We found an interesting standalone building that gave us a nice sense of isolation - which reinforced the idea that our Ghostbusters are outsiders", says Sage. "We transformed the building - gave it a full paint job and built on an additional garage that would house the Ecto-1. The interior was filmed on a stage - and the architecture of the stage set was matched carefully with the real-world location, so it would always feel like you're inside the actual building. The façade was an exact match - so we could put the camera outside the set, shooting through the window."
The interior set was inspired by the Chinese restaurant location. "It features the typical look of a Chinese restaurant. It allowed us to use a lot of color and interesting décor - Chinese figures, roofs, and dragons", says Sage. "We designed a big moon door, with a distinctive Chinese look - but of course, it's supposed to have been abandoned, so it's not in very good shape. You can see the restaurant's kitchen and bathrooms."
Sage explains that the whimsical location added a layer of comedy to the film. "We found some beautiful research of an abandoned Chinese restaurant and it gave us ideas for what the basic features would be. That gave us the idea to create a buffet area with a decorative roof element, which becomes Holtzmann's primary lab. It allowed us to marry her technology and science with the somewhat frivolous restaurant architecture that came with the place."
Indeed, the space evolves as Holtzmann makes it into her lab. "When they first move in, they're still adapting the space to their purposes", Sage explains, "but over the course of the story, more equipment appears. For example, they develop a station in one closet where the proton packs can be hung on the wall and plugged into the power sources and the nitrogen sources that would reenergize the packs."
Another key location in the film is Aldridge Mansion, the supposedly (and, it turns out, actually) haunted mansion. With the exterior filmed at the Boston University Castle, a prominent house near the campus, and the interior shot at the Ames Mansion, an estate now owned and run by the State of Massachusetts as a park, Sage says the location formed a fun backdrop for the Ghostbusters to make their first encounter with the beyond. "The BU Castle a Tudor revival mansion built around 1915, and the Ames Mansion was built in the 1920s. They gave us a great sense of the ghost story that would kick the movie into high gear. We were able to push this design into the familiar world of a Gothic ghost story", he says.
In particular, the interior of the mansion's library was a terrific space for the Ghostbusters to explore. "The Ames Mansion's library is a beautiful, two-story personal library", says Sage. "There's an upper gallery that goes around the room, and the family's old books are stored there. But there's also an odd collection of different periods - furnishings, chairs, sofas, a beautiful map table, all slightly mismatched in a way that we really loved. The library is full of personal art paintings by Mrs. Ames, paintings of their friends who were prominent artists in the area at the time. It felt very personal - less like a museum about a specific period, and more a museum about a family."
For the sequences set in the subway, where Patty makes her first spectral encounter, Sage says designing the set was a great opportunity for a designer to geek out on research. "Subways are layered, in a way - there are elements from the 1920s, from the 40s, and from the renovation that happened in the 90s", says the designer. "We layered all of that in there, to give a realistic sense of the tunnel - I think if the tunnel feels more real, the ghost that appears in the tunnel will feel more real." The art department built a 125-foot set, with a platform and bit of tunnel, using digital set extension techniques to expand it.
One of Boston's more prominent landmarks, the Wang Theatre, becomes the space for a rock concert where the Ghostbusters face their first real battle with a being from another world. "This is a key scene, because the Ghostbusters finally have a call to capture a ghost. So the goal was to combine an action sequence around a comic sequence", says Sage. Heavy metal became the perfect venue. "The ghost has gotten loose in the theater, and by accident, it jumps into the auditorium where the concert is happening. The Ghostbusters are forced to jump on stage to fight", Sage explains.
And not only did the theater itself provide a haunted and evocative location - so, too, did its basement. "The Ghostbusters have to go into the bowels of the theater to try to find the ghosts. The Wang Theatre has long, narrow, scary hallways that we cluttered and dressed. We turned off the lights so that when the Ghostbusters were down there, it seemed like they were in an odd, crypt-like space. It really became part of what made the Wang Theatre into a perfect location for that part of the film."
The film's epic battle takes place in Times Square, and to film it, the filmmakers found the perfect location... in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. To create the set, the filmmakers would need a large area, and found it in an abandoned Naval Air Station. First established as a regular Navy blimp base in World War II, the location was an operational US Navy airfield from 1942 until 1997.
To create the effect, the filmmakers built a large set with a building exterior and other outdoor elements, wrapped in green screen, for the VFX team to fill in later... and, as it turns out, to fill it in twice. "Part of the big effect during the final confrontation with the bad guy and all the ghosts is that he does a wipe of Times Square and it's suddenly transformed back to the 1970s", describes Sage. "It becomes a great visual statement about his power, taking Times Square back to the mean old 1970s. We in the art department designed the look of the 1970s buildings and the contemporary buildings, and the digital guys put it all together."
To bring the ghosts into our world, Paul Feig knew he would be calling on CG artists to create visual effects. And while he wanted to create a spectacle, he wanted to do it in a grounded way that fit the aesthetic of the film he was making.
"So many movies with CG effects are all created in the computer, with actors performing with a tennis ball on a stick, Feig explains. "I didn't want that - I wanted interaction with the actors. I wanted my ghosts to look like people - especially because this movie is a comedy."
Feig was also influenced by the look of the original 1984 film, in which the ghosts were all captured with old-school camera tricks and techniques. Although the film would definitely use contemporary visual effects, Feig admired the old-school look and sought to emulate it.
Visual Effects Supervisor Peter G. Travers says that though the film represents a blend of old-school and new-school techniques, that's not so unusual. "Old-school techniques of how you shoot a scene have not changed", he says. The difference, he continues, is in how many more options filmmakers have for enhancing a scene after it has been shot. "Where we can go now, and what we can do, or augment, or replace, has increased exponentially."
Capturing as much as possible in camera was also extremely important to Travers because that was the way that the visual effects match Feig's style of direction, rather than the other way around. "Paul has an incredible ability to make very appealing, very financially successful comedies. And so much of that is to let him, the Director of Photography Robert Yeoman, and the actors find the comedy in multiple, sometimes long takes. The humor is constantly evolving, even in post. On the other hand, VFX is very prep-oriented. So the question was, how to you incorporate visual effects into his directing style?" Travers relates. "That was the biggest trick. We couldn't do multiple passes - we had to let Paul and the cinematographer and the production designer figure out what they wanted. Take 10 or take 15 might be the take that's in the movie, but we had to make sure that we were ready to go with every take."
The best example of the way the VFX department gave the filmmakers the tools to find the comedy creatively is in the proton beams, says Travers. "We put LED light caps on the tips of the proton blasters", he says. "That created interactive light. The girls could even fire the guns, and the light would come out of the gun cap. They could control when they were firing, there'd be a soft red light that would go where the target was. Paul could change the dialogue, or the camera angle, and everything would still work."
When it came to the ghosts themselves, the first step was for Jefferson Sage's art department to design the look of the specters. When that was completed, the visual effects artists, mainly at Moving Picture Company, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Iloura, and ZeroVFX, under Travers' supervision, put their special touch on the ghosts.
"The first question I had for Paul was, 'Do the ghosts glow?'" says Travers. "If they did - and it turns out they did - then that sent us down a path of how to achieve that."
The reason the ghosts' glow was so important was one reason: light. One of the most challenging parts of CG animation is to make it look like it was always there, and lighting the shots practically is a particular challenge. Not only would the ghosts have to be lit by the ambient light from the scene, but the glow they emit would have to reflect off of the world around them. "CG has to have a symbiotic relationship with the footage that is shot on set", says Travers. "So if the ghosts glowed, it would have to look like the ghosts belonged in the scene, from an interactive lighting standpoint."
With that effect in mind, the filmmakers found a way to do it. "We took real actors, and lit them with lighting effects and LEDs, so we could capture a performance", Feig explains. "Then, we took it into the ethereal world to make it ghostly and add effects. But at its heart is a human quality and a human performance."
To achieve that, the VFX team worked closely with the wardrobe team, headed by costume designer Jeffrey Kurland. "First we designed the costumes, and then we made light suits that the actors wore under their costumes to let the glow come through", says Kurland. "The fabrics on the costumes had to be created, because they had to be thin enough to emit the glow, but still look like the actual fabric of whatever costume the ghost is supposed to be wearing."
"It was an interesting challenge to do, design-wise, to not only incorporate the design of a period effect, but then to light it", says Kurland. "It was great to work in tandem with the VFX crew - a great experience to do something so collaborative with the other people on the movie. You couldn't do Ghostbusters unless it was a team effort."
A good example is Gertrude, the first ghost the Ghostbusters encounter. "Bess Rous was cast, Jeffrey Kurland designed her outfit, and then wardrobe sewed LEDs into the costume", says Travers. "When we shot it, Bess was on a platform that went up and down and we put fans in her outfit to give an ethereal, blowing-in-the-wind look, and later, we could go into the computer and replace what we had to replace to turn her into a ghost. Glenn Melenhorst supervised the team at Iloura to achieve this effect."
"Not only did we make Gertrude's gown", says Kurland, "but the crinoline and the corset underneath were all lit, a suit of lights, to emanate the glow to come through the actual costume", says Kurland.
By mixing old-school effects techniques and new-school CG animation, the film got the best of both worlds. "When we shot it, because Bess was there in the frame, the Ghostbusters knew where to look, they knew where her face was, she's emoting, the Ghostbusters are emoting... it all works. Another great example of this is the subway tunnel scene, where the ghost on set, played by David Gruber Allen, was littered with LEDs, in which he became a primary source of lighting in the dark tunnel set. And then ZeroFX in Boston took over the ghost in digital form, in some cases fully taking over the performance, along with extending our set and creating a fully digital train."
Again, Kurland's team was on hand to help. "The striped prison uniform was sanded down to a fine, fine thin cloth, so you could see the light coming through it", says Kurland.
It wouldn't be Ghostbusters without Slimer, and indeed, the fan-favorite ghost makes an appearance in the new film. Though in the final film, Slimer would be an entirely CG creation (created under the supervision of Daniel Kramer at Sony Pictures Imageworks), the character began just as it did in the production of the 1984 film, with a Slimer puppet. "CG characters have come such a long way since then", he says. "The puppet was not able to go to the emotive level that we could do with CG. But it was very useful to have some representation on set - if we had just decided that we were going to use a CG Slimer and there was no representation of the ghost on set, it wouldn't look as good as it does in the final film."
At the Ghostbusters' first call, they are tasked with exorcizing a flying ghost from a rock concert. "We actually had a drone flying around with LEDs, which we later replaced with the rock concert ghost", says Travers. "Again, eyelines for the entire crowd were all good - they knew exactly where to look. And when the ghost would come close to a wall, we'd get a fantastic green spill from the LEDs. Our glowing ghost, even when it's flying way up near the ceiling, looks like it belongs in that environment. This work was also achieved by Iloura in Australia."
Another of Travers' favorites are the parade balloon ghosts. "They're from the 1920s Macy's parade - they're gigantic - and they happen to glow, which would be very unusual", he says. "We got actual lighting balloons that we moved around on the set, to try to get the timing right. It gave us a clear picture on how the reflections would work in the windows and how everything around them would respond to the lighting. You'll never see the live-action balloons in the movie, but they were absolutely necessary for our reference." Imageworks then created fully digital balloons, complete with simulations to create a half-in-control, half-blowing-in-the-wind look. The explosions of the balloons were computationally enormous.
Ultimately, at the film's climax, there are more than 1000 ghosts descending on New York. The entire climax of the film was achieved by the Moving Picture Company, under the supervision of David Seager. "This is where the film gets really big, and MPC poured so much work into the details", says Travers. Travers and his team had 20 basic ghosts designs in the film, many of which could be varied, mixed and matched to create any number of possibilities.
Melissa McCarthy (Abby Yates) received an Academy Award® nomination for her role as Megan in the worldwide hit comedy Bridesmaids. This film was directed by Paul Feig and produced by Judd Apatow. She also received BAFTA, Critics' Choice, and SAG Award nominations for this role and won the MTV Movie Award for Comedic Performance of the Year. McCarthy has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has placed her hand and footprints in the cement in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre.
McCarthy recently starred in the hit film Spy for director Paul Feig, for which she received a People's Choice Award for Favorite Comedic Movie Actress, as well as a Golden Globe Award nomination, and a Critics' Choice Award nomination. In 2014, McCarthy starred in St. Vincent opposite Bill Murray, for which she received a Critics' Choice Award nomination, and in Tammy, which she co-wrote with her actor/writer husband Ben Falcone, who also served as the film's director. She received a People's Choice Award for this role. McCarthy's previous film credits include The Heat opposite Sandra Bullock for director Paul Feig, Identity Thief alongside Jason Bateman, This is 40 for director Judd Apatow, and Todd Phillips' The Hangover Part III. McCarthy more recently starred in The Boss, which she co-wrote with Falcone, who again directed.
McCarthy's additional feature film work includes The Back-Up Plan, Life as We Know It, Pretty Ugly People, Just Add Water, The Nines, White Oleander, Pumpkin, and Go, directed by Doug Liman. Additionally, she starred in John August's short film God as a young woman having a gossipy phone conversation and short-lived spat with The Almighty. She also appeared in The Life of David Gale, starring Kevin Spacey.
On television, McCarthy starred as the clumsy culinary genius Sookie St. James in Gilmore Girls and Dena in the series Samantha Who? McCarthy won an Emmy Award and People's Choice Award for starring as Molly on the hit CBS comedy Mike & Molly and directed several episodes of the series. She has also received Emmy nominations for guest hosting Saturday Night Live, which she has hosted multiple times.
A native of Illinois, McCarthy first made her mark on the comedy stage performing standup in New York at The Duplex, The Improv, and Stand-Up New York. At the same time, she studied the Meisner Technique under Michael Harney and then continued her dramatic training at The Actors Studio. McCarthy starred in a variety of stage productions throughout the city. In Los Angeles, she spent nine years as a main-stage member of the world renowned improv and sketch comedy troupe The Groundlings.
McCarthy recently launched her clothing line Melissa McCarthy Seven7 to rave reviews. The clothing is sold in stores across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and on her website MelissaMcCarthy.com. She will also release an upper tier clothing line called Melissa McCarthy in upcoming seasons.
McCarthy resides in Los Angeles.
Kristen Wiig (Erin Gilbert) has become one of the industry's most versatile actresses of her generation. From her breakout performance on Saturday Night Live to the Oscar®-nominated film Bridesmaids, Wiig has transitioned from television to film as a writer and producer. In 2012, Time magazine honored Wiig in their esteemed Time 100 issue, and in 2009, Entertainment Weekly acknowledged her as one of the top 15 great performers for her work on Saturday Night Live. Wiig has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards, a SAG Award, and received her first Oscar® nomination for co-writing Bridesmaids. Currently, Wiig and her Bridesmaids writing partner, Annie Mumolo, are writing a comedy feature film together, which they will both star in.
Most recently, Wiig was confirmed to star in Alexander Payne's social satire Downsizing, alongside Matt Damon and Christoph Waltz. Paramount Pictures will release the film on December 25, 2017.
This past winter, Wiig starred in Zoolander 2, alongside Ben Stiller (who also directed), Will Ferrell and Owen Wilson. Written by Justin Theroux and produced by Scott Rudin, Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld, the film was released by Paramount Pictures on February 12, 2016.
In 2015, Wiig starred in Twentieth Century Fox's and Ridley Scott's Golden Globe winning and Oscar®-nominated film The Martian, alongside Jessica Chastain and Matt Damon. Wiig also starred in Sebastian Silva's Nasty Baby. Written and directed by Silva (Crystal Fairy), Nasty Baby screened at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and was released by The Orchard.
Also in 2015, Wiig starred in the critically-acclaimed Sony Pictures Classics drama The Diary of a Teenage Girl, directed by Marielle Heller. Wiig appeared opposite Bel Powley and Alexander Skarsgard in the coming of age story, based on the graphic novel written and illustrated by Phoebe Gloeckner. The story follows a teenage artist living in 1970s San Francisco who enters into an affair with her mother's (Wiig) boyfriend. The Diary of a Teenage Girl screened at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was released by Sony Pictures Classics in August 2015. Wiig also starred in Alchemy's drama Welcome to Me, directed by Shira Piven (Fully Loaded) and produced by Wiig and Gary Sanchez productions. The film screened at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. In July, Wiig appeared as Courtney in the Netflix prequel Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. In June, Wiig starred alongside Will Ferrell in the Lifetime dramatic thriller A Deadly Adoption.
In 2014, Wiig starred in the IFC film Hateship Loveship, which was directed by Liza Johnson and also starred Guy Pearce, Nick Nolte, and Hailee Steinfeld. The film is based on the short story by the Nobel Prize winning Canadian author Alice Munro. Also in 2014, Wiig starred in the critically-acclaimed The Skeleton Twins, directed by Craig Johnson, opposite Bill Hader and Luke Wilson. The film screened at the Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews. Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate released the film in September 2014.
Wiig received an Emmy nomination for her performance opposite Tobey Maguire and Tim Robbins in the epic IFC television miniseries spoof The Spoils of Babylon, written and directed by Matt Piedmont and Andrew Steele and executive produced by Will Ferrell. The Spoils of Babylon was one of the highest-rated debuts ever on IFC television. Wiig received a SAG nomination for her performance in the second season, titled Spoils Before Dying, which IFC premiered in July 2015.
At Christmas 2013, Wiig starred in the Twentieth Century Fox drama The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, opposite Ben Stiller, who also produced and directed the film, based on the 1939 short story by James Thurber. Wiig also starred in the box office smash Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, portraying Chani Lastname opposite Steve Carell. Wiig also voiced the character of SexyKitten in the Oscar®-nominated film Her.
In 2012, Wiig finished her seventh and final season as a cast member on NBC's revered show Saturday Night Live. During her time on SNL, Wiig received four Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, playing such memorable characters as the excitable Target Lady, Lawrence Welk singer Doonese, the irritating one-upper Penelope, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Suze Orman. In 2013, Wiig was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her return as a host on the show earlier that year. Also in 2012, Wiig voiced the character of Lucy in the Oscar®-nominated Despicable Me 2 opposite Steve Carell.
In 2011, Wiig starred in the critically acclaimed breakout film Bridesmaids, which she co-wrote with Annie Mumolo, and for which they were nominated for an Academy Award®, a Writers Guild of America Award, and a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay. Directed by Paul Feig and produced by Wiig and Judd Apatow, Bridesmaids is Apatow's highest-grossing production and is the top R-rated female comedy of all time. Wiig was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Lead Actress in a Comedy or Musical, along with the film being nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical. Bridesmaids also received a SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Other film credits include Apatow's Knocked Up; Girl Most Likely; Friends With Kids, written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt; Greg Mottola's Paul and Adventureland; All Good Things, with Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst; Macgruber alongside Will Forte; Mike Judge's Extract with Jason Bateman and Ben Affleck; Drew Barrymore's Whip It; Ghost Town; and Walk Hard (another Apatow-produced film in which she starred opposite John C. Reilly). Voice acting credits include the Cartoon Network's The Looney Toons Show, for which Wiig received an Emmy nomination, Fox's The Simpsons and the animated feature films Despicable Me (1 and 2) and How To Train Your Dragon (1 and 2) - She will also lend her voice for the third installment (releasing in June 2018). Wiig has also guest-starred in the NBC television series 30 Rock, HBO's Bored To Death, Netflix's Arrested Development, Comedy Central's Drunk History and IFC's Flight of The Conchords and Portlandia.
A native of Rochester, New York, Wiig began her career as a main company member of the Los Angeles-based improvisational and sketch comedy group, The Groundlings. Wiig currently resides in Los Angeles.
Kate McKinnon (Jillian Holtzmann) is a current Saturday Night Live cast member who has been nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards for her work on the show (2014 & 2015 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and 2014 Outstanding Music and Lyrics for Twin Bed). She is also the recipient of a 2014 Best Supporting Actress American Comedy Award for her work on the iconic, late night sketch show. Having joined the cast in April 2012, she has entertained viewers with her critically acclaimed impression of Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as other notable impressions including Justin Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres.
McKinnon co-hosted the 2016 Independent Spirit Awards with Silicon Valley's Kumail Nanjiani. She was recently seen in Sisters, opposite Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. She was also seen as Dallas Boudreau in the IFC miniseries The Spoils Before Dying and as Abra Cadouglas in Difficult People. She will next be seen in Masterminds, opposite Kristen Wiig and Zach Galifianakis, and in Office Christmas Party opposite Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston. She will soon begin production on Rock That Body opposite Scarlett Johansson.
Additionally, McKinnon voiced the role of Stella in the animated film The Angry Birds Movie and can be heard in the upcoming Finding Dory. McKinnon has also lent her voice to a variety to animated series and specials, including The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Awesomes, Nature Cat, Venture Brothers, Robotomy, China Il, and Moonbeam City, as well as the role of Pez Cat in Pixar's Halloween special, Toy Story of Terror.
McKinnon stars in several Above Average digital shorts, including Notary Publix, which she co-created. Prior to SNL, McKinnon performed at New York's Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. She studied Theatre at Columbia University.
In 2014, Leslie Jones (Patty Tolan) was hired by Saturday Night Live as a writer and quickly gained popularity after a memorable on-air appearance during the show's Weekend Update segment as herself. Jones officially joined the cast during the show's 40th season.
In February, Jones joined Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock and Whoopi Goldberg in an epic 2016 Oscars® sketch, reimagining an Oscars® montage starring black actors.
Jones' film credits include Chris Rock's Top Five and Judd Apatow's Trainwreck. She is voicing an animated character in Lunch for Illumination Entertainment, opposite Matthew McConaughey and John C. Reilly.
In some thirty-five years as an actor, Charles Dance (Harold Filmore) has amassed an impressive body of work in all media. His more recent film credits include The Imitation Game, in which he starred alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, Dracula Untold, Woman in Gold, Frankenstein and Child 44, as well as Burr Steer's adaptation of the New York Times-Bestselling Novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
He can currently be seen in Me Before You, directed by Thea Sharrock, and will next be seen in Underworld: Blood Wars. His upcoming films also include Thomas Clay's Fanny Lye Deliver'd, opposite Maxine Peake, and That Good Night with John Hurt. Past major films include Plenty, White Mischief, Good Morning Babylon, The Golden Child, Alien 3, Last Action Hero, Hilary and Jackie, Michael Collins, Starter for Ten for Sam Mendes' Company, Robert Altman's Gosford Park, Kabloonak, for which he received the Best Actor award at the Paris Film Festival in 1996, The Perfect Disagreement, and The Shooter with Wesley Snipes. Other film credits include Roland Joffe's There Be Dragons, Your Highness directed by David Gordon Green also starring James Franco and Natalie Portman, Ironclad directed by Jonathan English, also featuring Derek Jacobi and Brian Cox, Deepa Mehta's Winds of Change, the filmic adaptation of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children.
Dance received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor in The Jewel in the Crown. His many other television highlights include Rebecca, Nicholas Nickleby, Fingersmith, Bleak House, for which he received an International Emmy nomination and won the Press Guild Award for Best Actor, Consenting Adults, Giles Forster's This September, Neverland, alongside Rhys Ifans and Anna Friel, and Secret Life, a documentary about Charles Dickens' turbulent personal life. More recently, Dance starred as Tywin Lannister in HBO's record-breaking Game of Thrones. Other recent television credits include his starring role in an adaptation of Agatha Christie's classic mystery novel And Then There Were None for the BBC, starring alongside Sam Neill, Douglas Booth and Aidan Turner. Last year, he was also seen in The Great Fire, a four-part drama for ITV, in which he starred opposite Jack Huston, Andrew Buchan and Rose Leslie. In 2016, Dance will be appearing in UKTV Drama channel's two parter Deadline Gallipolli and the three part miniseries Childhood's End for the Syfy channel.
On the stage, Dance has played title roles with the RSC, including Henry V and Coriolanus, and completed major work in London's commercial theater, including Long Day's Journey Into Night with Jessica Lange, and Shadowlands, for which he received the London Critic's Circle Award for Best Actor.
His debut as a film director and writer was Ladies In Lavender with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, for which both were nominated for European Film Academy Awards.
Michael Kenneth Williams (Agent Hawkins) is one of this generation's most respected and acclaimed actors. By bringing complicated and charismatic characters to life-often with surprising tenderness-Williams has established himself as a gifted and versatile performer with a unique ability to mesmerise audiences with his stunning character portrayals.
Williams is best known for his remarkable work on The Wire, which ran for five seasons on HBO. The wit and humour that Williams brought to Omar, the whistle-happy, profanity-averse, drug dealer-robbing stickup man, earned him high praise and made Omar one of television's most memorable characters.
Williams co-starred in HBO's critically acclaimed series Boardwalk Empire, which premiered in 2010. In the Martin Scorsese and Terence Winter produced show, Williams played Chalky White, a 1920's bootlegger and the impeccably suited, veritable mayor of the Atlantic City's African-American community. In 2012, Boardwalk Empire won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
Most recently, Williams was seen playing the lead role of Rock Banyon in the IFC mini-series The Spoils Before Dying alongside Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph. Williams will soon be seen playing a lead role in the highly anticipated HBO limited series Crime, written and directed by Steve Zallian, playing opposite John Turturro and Riz Ahmed, which is set to air Summer 2016. Williams can currently be seen playing the role of Leonard in the Sundance Channel series Hap & Leonard opposite James Purefoy and Christina Hendricks, created by Jim Mickle, based upon the novels by Joe R. Lansdale. The six-part returning series premiered to record breaking ratings for the network and rave reviews from critics and viewers. He is currently shooting the ABC limited series When We Rise from Dustin Lance Black and Gus Van Sant, which dives deep into the LGBT and Civil Rights movements that have taken place over the past few decades in San Francisco.
Williams made his feature film debut in the urban drama Bullet after being discovered by the late Tupac Shakur. He also appeared in Bringing Out the Dead, which was directed by Martin Scorsese. His other film work includes roles in The Road, Gone Baby Gone, Life During Wartime, Brooklyn's Finest, Wonderful World, and Snitch, opposite Dwayne Johnson and Susan Sarandon. Williams was seen in Jose Padilha's remake of Robocop starring with Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton, and in a supporting role in the Oscar®-winning Steve McQueen film 12 Years A Slave with Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt. He appeared in The Purge: Anarchy, the successful sequel to the box office booming The Purge, as the revolutionary leader Carmelo Johns.
In 2014, Williams filmed Captive opposite Kate Mara and David Oyelowo and Kill the Messenger opposite Jeremy Renner, as well as Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film, Inherent Vice. He also found time to reunite with director John Hillcoat in Triple 9 with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Woody Harrelson, and Anthony Mackie and appear in the Sundance film The Land. Williams also starred opposite Mark Wahlberg and John Goodman in Paramount's remake of The Gambler and in the HBO Films movie Bessie, opposite Queen Latifah, for which he garnered an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Williams recently wrapped New Regency's Assassin's Creed, opposite Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Assassin's Creed, which is based on the popular video game and is directed by Justin Kurzel, will be released Christmas 2016.
Giving back to the community plays an important role in Williams' off-camera life. He is working to launch Making Kids Win, a charitable organization whose primary objective is to build community centers in urban neighborhoods that are in need of safe spaces for children to learn and play. Williams currently serves as the ACLUs ambassador of Smart Justice.
Williams will also executive produce and serve as the investigative journalist for Black Market, a documentary program that exposes and comments on illegal markets throughout the world with a focus on the people involved and connecting with them on a human level. Black Market will be a flagship show for the newly launched network from Vice, VICELAND.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Williams began his career as a performer by dancing professionally at age 22. After numerous appearances in music videos and as a background dancer on concert tours for Madonna and George Michael, Williams decided to seriously pursue acting. He participated in several productions of the La MaMA Experimental Theatre, the prestigious National Black Theatre Company and the Theater for a New Generation directed by Mel Williams.
Michael Kenneth Williams resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Chris Hemsworth (Kevin) has become one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood. In 2012, he starred in the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time, Marvel's The Avengers, joining an all-star cast, also including Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson. That same year, he starred in Snow White and the Huntsman, which debuted at #1 at the box-office. This year, Hemsworth starred in the title role of the prequel, The Huntsman: Winter's War, opposite Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, and Emily Blunt.
Hemsworth recently starred in Academy Award®-winning director Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea, having previously worked with him on Rush, portraying Formula One driver James Hunt. He starred in the second installment of the global juggernaut The Avengers franchise, The Avengers: Age of Ultron. He had earlier been introduced as the hammer-wielding super hero in the 2011 hit Thor, directed by Kenneth Branagh. He reprised the title role, starring in the second installment of the franchise, Thor: The Dark World.
Born and raised in Australia, Hemsworth made his U.S. film debut in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, playing the pivotal role of George Kirk. His additional feature film credits include the comedy Vacation, Michael Mann's Blackhat, the Joss Whedon-scripted The Cabin in the Woods and the remake of Red Dawn.
Among his favourite charities, Hemsworth supports the Australian Childhood Foundation.