TIL: ‘Ghostbusters’ Venkman Was NOT Meant to be Bill Murray
We all love Bill Murray, but his role of “Ghostbusters'” Peter Venkman wasn’t meant to be his!
Today for my interesting tidbit of newfound knowledge, I’d like to explore the possibilities of another SNL star who almost had the part of the Ghostbusters‘ leading man. That’s right, it wasn’t always Bill Murray who was meant for the role of Peter Venkman. While many regard Murray as iconic in the role, Peter Venkman was originally meant to be played by the late John Belushi.
The project was originally written by Dan Aykroyd to star with his Blues Brothers co-star Belushi, who died in 1982.
Says director Ivan Reitman: “Before I was involved, Dan Aykroyd had written a treatment for a kind of extraterrestrial futuristic ghostbusting saga that he called Ghostbusters that was meant for Belushi and himself. It was really planned as their vehicle.”
Reitman had worked with Bill Murray on Meatballs and Stripes, and Aykroyd wanted to know “if it was something we could re-conceive for Murray and himself.”
“He sent me the treatment. I felt it had a wonderful idea in it,” says Reitman. The script was redone by Harold Ramis, who would also star in the film, and Aykroyd to tell the story we see today.
First off, Dan Aykroyd has had some pretty outrageous ideas for the “Ghostbusters” films. One of his scripts involved the team battling their way out of Hell and Ray losing an eye, but that’s another discussion to be had. Given his incessant need for obscurity, I can’t imagine what the film would be like if he had full creative control over the script. What I will say though is that I was a fan of John Belushi and I can honestly picture him in the role. Maybe the film would have been a bit more slapstick given Belushi’s stereotypical films, but I think it still could have been entertaining.
The unfortunate part of this revelation is that he wasn’t denied the part due to a scheduling conflict or lack of interest, it was due to his untimely death. In a similar situation, “The Dark Knight Rises” was rewritten after Heath Ledger’s passing. Because of this we received a film that wasn’t meant to be and suffered in terms of story. While Belushi was lost in a franchise’s beginning rather than end, the impact was minimal because the foundation had not yet been set. But his death does pose a thought provoking “What If” after hearing how things were adjusted.
Many credit Harold Ramis for the success of “Ghostbusters” despite it being Dan Aykroyd’s original inception. I admit that I too credit Harold Ramis for the film’s balance of humor and action/adventure. If John Belushi were alive to play Peter Venkman, I wonder if a script rewrite would have even occurred. If it had not occurred and John Belushi took the role we may have had a worse film or maybe (dare I say it?) a better film. It’s these types of occurrences that make me and many others wonder what could have been and let our imaginations run wild with the possibilities of different outcomes.
How do you think John Belushi would have done as the lead in “Ghostbusters?”
[Source: USA Today]