Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the first true sequel to the franchise since 1989’s Ghostbusters II (we shall not speak of the 2016 reboot), has been delayed for a third time, moving from June to November 2021. This is hardly surprising news as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on and worldwide vaccinations are gradual in their distribution. Of course, there is always the chance that Columbia Pictures could delay its release even further! What has been surprising and decidedly newsworthy, though, are recent comments on the film by Ernie Hudson.
For those who don’t know, Hudson played Dr. Winston Zeddemore in the original Ghostbuster films, and is set to reprise his role in Afterlife. While there were months of speculation as to the original cast’s involvement in Reitman’s continuation of the franchise partly built by his father, Ivan (who produces the film), it was eventually confirmed that along with Hudson, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts would be reprising their respective live action roles for the first time in 30 years. Absent from the line-up, however, is Harold Ramis, who played Egon Spengler but sadly passed away in 2014, and Rick Moranis, who has not featured in a live action role since 1997’s Honey, I Shrunk Ourselves, and thus was never really considered a likely returnee…until, only a few days ago, when Hudson perhaps said too much by saying too little.
In an interview with Living Life Fearless, when asked if Moranis will appear in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Hudson offered what was by far his shortest answer in the entire exchange, responding only with: “I think the studios probably want to hold that one. I love Rick. But yeah, I’ll let them share that.” While this is not necessarily definitive confirmation of Moranis’ involvement, it is nowhere near a denial, which in film industry speak tends to be a thinly veiled ‘yes’, or admission by non-denial, if you will.
But let’s not rush to conclusions either. In a May 2020 interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Murray was quick to lament the absence of both Ramis and Moranis on set, who he said are “greatly missed…they were so much a part of the creation of it and the fun of it.” While Murray and Ramis fell out for many years after working together on Groundhog Day, the two eventually made amends after Ramis became seriously ill. That lends a great deal of sincerity to Murray’s comments, as he is unlikely to use an old friend who has passed as a means to cover for Moranis’ involvement in the production. Additionally, studios generally only go to the trouble of keeping cameos secret when the celebrity involved is hot property in the here and now, but Moranis has not been in the limelight for over two decades, while each of the other returning cast members have maintained active, successful careers since. It stands to reason that he would be one of last members of the cast whose participation would have been hidden.
Or, at least, at that time.
Given Ernie Hudson’s less than convincing attempt at subtlety, and the fact that Reitman returned for reshoots in October 2020 with little detail on the nature of them, there is the strong possibility that Moranis returned to shoot scenes during that period. In this scenario, it would make a great deal of sense to use the presence of the other stars as a smokescreen for Moranis’ cameo. If this is the case, then the crazy part is that with an original release date of July 2020, had it not been for the pandemic, Moranis would never have been included in the production.
Of course, this is ultimately pure speculation drawing on a series of events that have only gained traction because of a few brief comments by Ernie Hudson. Nonetheless, Moranis is officially ending his twenty-four-year live action hiatus with Shrunk, the upcoming next entry in the classic Honey I Shrunk the Kids franchise, and with timing that convenient, it would not be surprising to find that Moranis is the ace up Jason Reitman’s sleeve.