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Who ya gonna watch? Paul Feig and the new Ghostbusters make their case

Director Paul Feig's all-female remake of beloved supernatural comedy Ghostbusters has faced a serious backlash from fans of the 1984 classic. With release day looming, he and his leading ladies plead with us to ignore the negativity and those dire trailers

Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) are the new Ghostbusters
Walter D Peck

PAUL Feig always knew rebooting a film as definitive as Ghostbusters would be a challenge, but the Bridesmaids man remains hopeful that his take on the iconic supernatural comedy can be judged on its own merits.

Regarding the negative reaction to his all female cast of leads – Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones – the 53-year-old admits he's frustrated.

"Every time you star women in a movie it becomes the story," he tells us.

"It just shows how far behind the times Hollywood has gotten. I almost don't blame audiences, because they only react to what they've been fed.

"I think the fact they haven't seen a lot of movies starring women is Hollywood's fault, and I just hope we can get past it being an issue.

"Every time I do a movie, I feel like it's a litmus test. But I get it.

"This is a giant tent pole and it's important to me that this movie does well to tell Hollywood, 'Look, women can star in these movies – let's break the mould'."

Reteaming with Feig for the fourth time (previous collaborations include Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy), Melissa McCarthy plays Abby, a scientist with a passion for all things paranormal.

"Abby has always been the believer," explains 45-year-old McCarthy.

"It doesn't matter if people are making fun of her, which they always have. She's always believed in the paranormal. I love that she's stayed the course, no matter what."

Working with her long-time friend Kristen Wiig (both started out in LA comedy troupe The Groundlings) was also a draw for the popular actress, who admits she would ask Wiig's opinion - "Is this fun, is this weird?" - for quick edits.

Of their characters' friendship, she says: "It's a little bumpy in the beginning, but you can tell the history is there. And that's easy to portray with Kristen, because I've known her so long and she's one of the greatest people I know."

The mother-of-two says the female-led cast "felt right".

"The first time all four of us were doing a scene, it made sense. It was really, really fun."

The movies most prominent male role goes to Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, who plays the Ghostbusters' dim-witted receptionist, Kevin.

"He's one of the best improvisers I've ever worked with," enthuses McCarthy.

"He was saying some of the strangest stuff, completely in character – we had to hold for four minutes while Kristen and I tried to stop crying with laughter.

"He even started singing once, and I had to stop him... I guess he's just bionic."

Like Abby, Kirsten Wiig's character Erin believed in ghosts as a child, but realised her credibility-sapping fascination with the paranormal was holding her back in her physics career.

However, eventually she re-connects with her chhildhood buddy to go into the paranormal investigations and eliminations business with new comrades Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones).

"As it turns out, they're these four misfits that find each other," explains Wiig.

"I love that kind of story."

McCarthy, the 42-year-old Saturday Night Live veteran and co-writer of Bridesmaids, was also thrilled to be working with familiar faces.

"It's so much easier," she gushes.

"Sometimes when you're working, you might have a bad day or you might have something going on, and it's so nice to turn to someone you're working with and talk about something, or just have someone there. You really feel like you're with family."

Of her co-stars, she adds: "Leslie makes me laugh so hard with everything she does. I don't even have words for what she does with every line.

"And Kate's the best. I find her so interesting. She's fearless - she takes chances every scene. She does the unexpected, and it's always funny. I love watching her."

Kate McKinnon's character Holtzmann has always been an oddball, as she explains.

"I loved the idea of playing a scientist," muses the 32-year-old.

"I like playing a woman character that doesn't revolve around a romance, which is rare in a movie. I'm so glad to have been given that opportunity.

"Holtzmann is the tech geek in all of this, which is usually the geekiest geek. She is in charge of perfecting the machinery that allows them to accomplish this mission.

"She is an essential creature. She's bizarre, she's freakish, she's full of joy. She is me!

"This is the closest character to my actual self that I've ever played."

The other Ghostbuster, Patty Tolan, is a native New Yorker who's an avid reader when it comes to all things historical and paranormal.

Of her character, 48-year-old Leslie Jones says: "Patty brings the normalcy – she reads a lot of books, she's a sponge for facts and keeps her mind open.

"It was important to me and to Paul that Patty is the one who says what people are going to say in the audience."

However, she confesses that being cast in this big-screen reboot still feels surreal.

"I keep thinking I'm going to wake up in my apartment in Santa Clarita and go, 'Seriously?! That was a great dream!'," she jokes.

Is that dream about to become a nightmarish reality?

Find out on Monday.

:: Ghostbusters is released on Monday July 11

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