That’s when his proton blaster connected with Murray’s frontal lobe.
Hudson winced as if he were the one who’d been struck. “I hit him on the head with my gun as he was getting up,” he explained to onlooking crew members, as Murray left to get checked by the set medic.
The accident slowed things down for a beat. Murray got knocked hard, enough to leave a mark. But he was okay. He returned a few minutes later, playing it up like he was gravely wounded but had valiantly rallied. His young costars went along with the joke. “Yeah, I mean, what’s a concussion anyway?” Wolfhard said.
Murray smirked at the Stranger Things kid. “What’s a concussion?” he repeated. “Close your eyes…” He raised his proton blaster like a club.
Hudson approached to apologize again, but Murray waved it off. “It’s okay,” Murray said, proclaiming loudly: “I learned a valuable lesson!”
Soon, cameras were rolling again. Venkman’s distraction didn’t work. Gozer zapped away Zeddemore’s weapon and prepared to obliterate them. But off to the side, Phoebe unleashed her own proton blast on the creature—saving the OGBs who came to save her. As they lumbered to their feet, Stantz says, “I don’t remember this job being so painful!”
“I do,” Zeddemore groans. At that point, the actors weren’t acting.
“It’s true,” Aykroyd said later. “Jason says ‘Okay, you guys, hop up now.’ Yeah, there will be no ‘hopping up’ here. There will be a slow climb to one knee, a hefting of the pack, both hands grasping the automobile as a leverage point, and pulling myself up to my feet. That’s the ‘hop’ that you’re going to get.”
The day led them to one of the most significant moments in the film, one that actually scares everyone involved—not because it’s spooky or eerie, but because it is bittersweet.
This requires one more major spoiler warning …
In a story about ghosts, no one is ever truly gone. And the spirit of Egon, looking years older than Harold Ramis ever got to be in real life, manifests in the climax to help steady his granddaughter in her showdown.
Throughout the process, the filmmakers were determined to handle the moment with a sense of awe and respect. Jason Reitman hired Bob Gunton, perhaps best known as the warden from The Shawshank Redemption, to do the performance capture for Egon, saying the seasoned actor brought a strength and presence that radiates through the ethereal glowing effects. Gunton sported the character’s high cockatoo hair, but his face was replaced with a digital image of Ramis. Though he didn’t have any spoken lines, his silent facial expressions echo in in the ghostly onscreen version of Egon.
Ramis died years before the Afterlife script was even conceived, so he had no involvement in the story, but Reitman did consult extensively with his family, including daughter Violet Ramis Stiel, author of the book Ghostbuster’s Daughter, before moving forward with the concept. The actor’s survivors agreed to let the filmmakers re-create his likeness, but of course no one can know for sure how Ramis would feel.
Looking back at the notes from my own interview with him from 2002, he said something that suggests he’d be pleased with the way the film handles his loss. Back then, he was discussing how he often added a tone of wistfulness to his own films. “I like to leave a strange note in people’s evenings where they say, ‘Gee, I just saw a comedy, but there’s something a little sad in there,’” Ramis said.
Without revealing the specifics of the finale, Egon and his old friends join forces one more time. Evil is vanquished, and the world is saved. In the moments that follow, everyone involved gets an emotional catharsis, including the audience.
For so long, all fans wanted was a reunion of these actors. What no one realized—maybe not even Hudson, Aykroyd, and Murray—was that they actually needed a goodbye. Ramis, now seven years gone, also got the bittersweet note he was so fond of threading into his own comedies.
The sad ending, as it turns out, could also be a happy one.
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