Finn Wolfhard stars in "Ghostbusters Afterlife," in theaters Friday. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Finn Wolfhard says he thought the Ghostbusters Halloween costume his character Mike wore in an episode of Stranger Things might prevent him from getting a role in a sequel to the classic supernatural comedy film.
Speaking at a recent New York Comic Con panel, Wolfhard said he auditioned for Ghostbusters: Afterlife without knowing what the project was because filmmaker Jason Reitman had given it a code name to keep it off of people's radar until he was ready to announce it.
The scene Reitman had Wolfhard perform at his tryout was a conversation between a brother and sister, whose family had just inherited a farm.
"When I found out it was Ghostbusters, I really didn't think I was going to be cast because I was in Stranger Things and I had worn the [Ghostbusters] costume, and I thought maybe that would rub Jason the wrong way," Wolfhard said.
"He looked good in it," Reitman remarked.
The actor said he answered "yes" right away when Reitman offered him the role for the film, which opens in theaters Friday.
"The most amazing part about being part of this franchise is the legacy behind it and feeling like you are actually part of a family," Wolfhard said.
Jason Reitman directed Afterlife from a screenplay he co-wrote with Gil Kenan, whose credits include Monster House and City of Ember.
Reitman's father, Ivan, helmed the original 1984 Ghostbusters that starred Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver. Ivan followed it up with the 1989 sequel, Ghostbusters II, and serves as a producer on Afterlife.
The first two movies followed a team of scientists who became unlikely heroes catching troublesome spirits around New York City.
In the latest installment in the Ghostbusters series, Wolfhard and The Haunting of Hill House alum Mckenna Grace play siblings Trevor and Phoebe, the grandchildren of late parapsychologist Egon Spengler (Ramis).
"He's a kid who is looking for friends and wants to be part of a community and wants to be accepted, and kind of finds that through moving to a new town and meeting other kids and also piecing together his old family life and roots," Wolfhard said of Trevor.
Grace described Phoebe as a "weird, awkward" girl who explores a link to the grandfather she never knew.
"She goes to this farmhouse and rediscovers who her family is and connects to something," the actress teased.
Carrie Coon, from The Leftovers, plays their mother, Callie, and Paul Rudd, of Ant-Man fame, plays Phoebe's teacher, Mr. Grooberson.
Coon was 3 when the original Ghostbusters film came out in theaters, but she grew up watching it on TV.
"It was very innovative for its time," the actress noted.
"We hadn't seen a lot of the genre-blending that we've come to look forward to and appreciate in other films. This is one of the first times you had comedy and action and horror in one film."
Wolfhard said a lot of the special effects in Afterlife are practical, as opposed to computer-generated.
Puppets and animatronics were used to make it look like its decades-old Ghostbusters predecessors.
A scene in which Trevor speeds through a barley field, driving the old Ghostbusters station wagon, Ecto-1, also was designed to be as authentic as possible.
"Jason went with the crew in the winter before we shot it and figured out the plot of land and planted a real field and we just ripped through it," Wolfhard said. "They put a Corvette engine in the Ecto-1!"
Ivan admitted he was surprised when Jason approached him about three years ago with an idea for a new chapter in the Ghostbusters saga.
"He had just made these wonderful movies -- Juno, Up in the Air and Young Adult -- and I said, 'You've got a great career going. Why do you want to do what your old man did?'" Ivan recalled.
"Then he told me a story that just knocked me out and I said, 'If you think you can do it, then you've got to go do it.'"
Jason and Ivan worked together closely on Afterlife and, while that was mostly wonderful, they said they argued at times.
"Imagine for a second that your parents came with you to work and weighed in on every decision you made," Jason joked.
Ivan acknowledged Jason had some challenges reinventing a beloved franchise created by a father who had "a word to say every once in a while."
"He was very brave to take the whole thing on," Ivan said of his son.
Jason explained that he had been asked many times throughout his career if he would continue the franchise his father started nearly 40 years ago.
"I made the incorrect and egotistical assumption that people wanted to see my Ghostbusters movie when the truth is, what we all wanted to see was a Ghostbusters movie," Jason said.
"We wanted another Ghostbusters movie. We wanted to get back into Ecto-1 again. We wanted to pick up the proton pack again. That's where this came from."
Jason initially imagined a 12-year-old girl discovering a proton pack on a farm and a teen boy driving Ecto-1 through a field.
"When Harold Ramis passed away, I suddenly knew who they were. They were the Spenglers," Jason said. "I knew I needed to tell his story."
Cast member Paul Rudd arrives on the red carpet at the "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" premiere in New York City on Monday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo