Bill Murray on 'Ghost Busters 3' on-again, off-again news

In its recent August "Comedy Issue," GQ lands an interview with Bill Murray to discuss his approach to comedy, his place in the movie business and his new indie film, Get Low. But no good features writer can interview Murray without getting the latest news on the ever-evolving Ghost Busters 3 story. Thankfully, Dan Fierman is a good writer and gets some nice quotes out of Murray in a piece accompanied by a Daniel Clowes (of the non-paranormal, but excellent, Ghost World) illustration.

To recap on the GB3 drama, Dan Aykroyd told me the movie was on. Harold Ramis said the same thing, and that the film would be out in Dec. 2012. However, it was Murray who said it was a no-go (to David Letterman), then said, "maybe."

So where does the third movie stand now?

Is the third Ghostbusters movie happening? What's the story with that?

It's all a bunch of crock. It's a crock. There was a story—and I gotta be careful here, I don't want to hurt someone's feelings. When I hurt someone's feelings, I really want to hurt them. [laughs] Harold Ramis said, Oh, I've got these guys, they write on The Office, and they're really funny. They're going to write the next Ghostbusters. And they had just written this movie that he had directed.

Year One.

Year One
. Well, I never went to see Year One, but people who did, including other Ghostbusters, said it was one of the worst things they had ever seen in their lives. So that dream just vaporized. That was gone. But it's the studio that really wants this thing. It's a franchise. It's a franchise, and they made a whole lot of money on Ghostbusters.

Oh, sure, I remember. The soundtrack. The lunchboxes. The action figures.

Right. And it's still one of the biggest movies of all time. And ever since that story broke, everywhere I go people are like, "So are you gonna make that movie?" I was down in Austin at South by Southwest, and you go at it hard down there—fun but, man, you need to sleep for days afterwards. Anyhow, I got into it one night with a bunch of younger people who were like, Oh, I love Peter Venkman! I grew up with Peter Venkman! We got to talking, and the more we talked about it, the more I thought, Oh Christ, I should just do this thing.

A generation awaits, for sure. You weren't even supposed to play that role, right?

Yeah. Originally it was Belushi. Like a lot of my movies. [beat] God, John died, what was it, twenty-five years ago?

It was '82, right?

Yeah, I think it was '82. I dunno. That part of life is getting fuzzy.

I read that you wanted to play a ghost in the movie. That's kind of brilliant.

Well, I hadn't wanted to do the movie. They kept asking, and I kept saying no. So once upon a time I said, just joking: "If you kill me off in the first reel, then fine, I'll do it." And then supposedly they came up with an idea where they kill me off and I was a ghost in the movie. Kinda clever, really.

But has the Zombieland cameo stolen that gag?

[genuinely confused]
But that was a zombie. Not a ghost.

Later on in the interview, Murray tells Fierman he remains friends with Aykroyd, and that it was the Ghost Busters creator who got him studio backing for his first dramatic film, The Razor's Edge.

Everyone says Danny is the nicest guy on the planet.

Danny is…Canadian. [laughs] No, he's the only one I see much of. He's great. And I owe him. Back when I wanted to make The Razor's Edge, he sent me the first twenty-nine pages of Ghostbusters to read. And you know, they were great, even better than what we filmed, so I said, "Okay, okay, gotta do it." And Danny said, [pitch-perfect, like crazily eerily perfect Aykroyd impression] "Uummm, okay. Where should we, uh, er, do it?" And I said, "Well, I'm trying to get this movie made over at Columbia [Pictures]." And he said, "All right, well, you tell 'em that they do your movie there and they'll have the GBs." We had a caterer for Razor's Edge in forty-five minutes. Hell of a guy.

Call me delusional, but I'm one of those kids who "grew up with Peter Venkman," and I read Murray's comments about Ghost Busters 3 in a positive light.  He maintains good relationships with most of his old costars, and he seems up for doing it for a laugh. If anything, Murray just sounds like he has no faith that everyone will get their act together enough to do it, so let's hope he's wrong.