Last Saturday, Paul Feig became the first man to be honored at the Athena Film Festival. Feig received the festival's inaugural Leading Man Award for his work championing women in film, from Bridesmaids to the upcoming Ghostbusters remake. After receiving his award, Feig gave a talk along with Kate McKinnon, who also stars in Ghostbusters. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and Leslie Jones round out the cast of the film, which is out July 15. Feig and McKinnon spoke about all that Feig has done for women in film and comedy, as well Ghostbusters.
Feig’s reimagined Ghostbusters gives him a chance to improve upon one glaring fault in the original 1984 film: the character of Winston Zeddemore, played by Ernie Hudson. Winston’s character, who is black, is not as developed as the other three white leads, played by Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Harold Ramis.
Ernie Hudson has opened up in an article he penned for Entertainment Weekly about the “love/hate” relationship he had with his Ghostbusters character. Hudson writes, “When I originally got the script, the character of Winston was amazing and I thought it would be career-changing. The character came in right at the very beginning of the movie and had an elaborate background.” That all changed in the final version of the script, which Hudson received the night before filming started. He recalls being devastated upon seeing that “The character was gone...His elaborate background was all gone.” Instead, Winston is introduced halfway through the movie, and we miss out on seeing the same rich character background that we saw from the other three leads when they formed the Ghostbusters. This flaw isn’t a big enough flaw to ruin the excellent cult comedy, but it is still too big to ignore.
With Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters remake, he will get an opportunity to create four equal Ghostbusters. Although plot details haven’t been released yet, we know that Leslie Jones will play Patty Tolan, who, according to the New Yorker, is a former MTA employee who joins the Ghostbusters, similarly to how Winston joins the team after replying to a Help Wanted ad.
BUST spoke to Feig before the event about the Winston problem and his plan for improving making Leslie Jones’s character an equal role. Feig said Jones is “a key player” in the film. “She’s such a force of nature,” he continued. “You can't hold Leslie down...I think we wrote a very fun role for her...She just really destroys. People love her." He also spoke about putting the cast of four together, saying, “I wanted four different people that were all funny and they all need to bring a different energy...These four [actors] have such completely different senses of humor and different takes on the world.” He continued, “I just try to make good roles for everybody.”
Image: Twitter/Paul Feig
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Madeline Raynor is a New York City-based writer. She is a Blog Editor at BUST. She has written for Splitsider, The Billfold, Death and Taxes, Mashable, Indiewire, and Time Out New York. She loves all things Tina Fey. Word to the wise: her first name is pronounced with a long “i,” like the red-haired girl from France. Follow her on Twitter @madelineraynor_.