Now first things first, it’s worth noting that this interview with Ivan Reitman – the director of the original Ghostbusters, and producer of the forthcoming reboot, was undertaken prior to the casting announcement made by Paul Feig. So while we sadly weren’t able to speak to him about that, we did have the chance to discuss him choosing not to direct the next production – and what it is about this franchise that makes it so special. Plus, we get an update on Triplets.
The main focus of the interview was on Draft Day however, the recent Kevin Costner starring drama set behind the scenes of the NFL – a gripping, and compelling piece of cinema. Reitman talks about collaborating with Costner, and also with Chadwick Boseman – who has since gone on to be cast in the huge role of the Black Panther in the Marvel Universe.
I’m an American Football fan, but I’m not one of those people where it’s the centre of my life. When I decided to make a football film, I found it very compelling and I felt the last act to the film was very clever and I didn’t know where the script was going. I thought it was important to make a film for people who like the movies, and not necessarily for people who are just sports fans. We see movies for all sorts of things we know nothing about, but as long as we have a story we care about, that’s the key.
It must be tough though to strike that balance in making this accessible for a broader audience, and yet to never compromise the scenes about the sport, and to still cling on to that authenticity?
Yeah, I felt it was very important to be absolutely authentic, and that we had a real sense of how everything works. The American Football draft is a competition amongst 32 different teams, from 32 different cities and there’s all the complicated stuff that goes on leading up to this day, and especially on the day itself. I thought it was fascinating, like with Margin Call – it’s about trading but it’s compelling viewing and you sort of get hung up on it, but the way these movies work is to be real and authentic, and you feel good when you start to understand it.
It must help so much to have that real, human element at the core of this story – which is a man trying to save his job.
Yeah all good movies have that, an emotional situation that we can all believe in.
You must have been thrilled to have Kevin Costner on board too – he has such an impressive history in sports movies, after all.
I thought there were two very important things for me in making this movie – one is to have the actual NFL, because they can be fussy about that but I knew I wanted to do this only with the real teams. The second thing, was when I read the script all I could hear was Kevin’s voice. There’s an authenticity in the way he presents himself, and I think because that’s the man he is in real life, I was very taken by him and became very friendly with him. He brought a tremendous amount to this.
It’s not just Kevin – Chadwick Boseman and Jennifer Garner too. It must make your job so much easier when blessed with a talented cast?
Well this is a big ensemble movie and I had to find good people. What happens, is that you have all these smaller roles, and they had to very carefully cast, and I spent a really long time putting the ensemble together. But they’re a unique grab-bag of very interesting personnel.
Chadwick is going on to huge success in the Marvel universe – did you get a sense when working with him that this was someone with a really big future?
Well I felt that once I saw him in 42. This was really his second movie and I remember calling him up and as it was a sports movie, though he was saying that he loved the script, he was nervous he was going to be typecast. I said to him, you’re way too good an actor to be typecast. It’s a great part and he got to have these great scenes with Costner – I talked him in to it. He was really happy and he learned about football which he didn’t know much about, and he’s such a natural athlete and he bulked up and really looks the part.
It’s difficult to have a conversation with you at the moment without discussing the forthcoming Ghostbusters film… How is that coming along, and is it any closer to being cast yet?
We’re right in the middle of it, and I think it will be very good.
When did you decide not to direct this one?
It was when I came home from Harold Ramis’ funeral…. But I’m still very involved in the movie, I’m the producer. But I decided it was a good time for me to resign as a director of it.
It’s been over 30 years now since the original – what do you think it is that makes it such a special piece of cinema? And when making it did you imagine it could go on to be so treasured?
I knew we had something special and we were all confident when making it, but you never know if something is going to hang on, and for the past 30 years it’s been spoken about in a contemporary way. I remember when we came out of the anniversary, I’d just watched it and I thought, my God. The audience loved it – I’m very proud of that as well, and it helped me pass it on to Paul Feig.
Finally, any update on Triplets and whether that’s still going ahead?
It’s frozen in development right now. I was just speaking to Danny DeVito, and I don’t think the script is quite right yet and the studio isn’t quite sure what to do, so I’d say at this moment it’s frozen – though it could unfreeze at any point.
Ivan Reitman’s DRAFT DAY is available on DVD from Lionsgate UK now.