Interview: Rick Moranis
After taking time off to be with his family, Rick Moranis became a head scratcher – what’s he up to? Always popular, it seemed unlikely Rick wasn’t being sought out for film roles. The occasional article here and there dropped hints that the reason Rick wasn’t all over the silver screen was because Rick wasn’t interested. So, if someone as funny and talented as him isn’t interested in movies much these days, what was he interested in?
Then one day we all found out. Through Artist Share, a unique, online collection of creative types, Rick released The Agoraphobic Cowboy – a collection of solid and very funny tunes with a country, folk, bluegrass, stripped down, acoustic quality. It seemed like the perfect chance to talk to the man about his music as well as his part in cinematic comedy history.
Proton Charging: This completes my collection – I have now had the opportunity to talk to both McKenzie brothers.
Rick Moranis: Oh yeah, you spoke to Dave?
When he was doing his movie, Intern Academy, I got a chance to talk to him.
There was something I noticed when I was getting ready for this, I was reading old articles, and you were talking about working on Strange Brew and when it was nearly finished, you left it in Dave Thomas’ hands. As you put it he’s all over the film industry, and that’s what we ended up talking about – boy he has a lot to say about making movies, especially making movies in Canada, whereas everything I’ve read about you, you’re background was music.
Well radio primarily.
Radio primarily, but you have a long history as a recorded artist. From beginning to end, both playing them on the air and now you’re producing one yourself. It’s an interesting take on the dual sides of the McKenzie brothers coin.
Yeah, I guess that’s true to some extent.
It’s not like Dave does a lot of musical stuff on SCTV.
Right, right, that’s true. And even back when we first did the album [for Strange Brew], we were doing the album and movie around the same time and I was really working on the album and he was working on the movie, so it’s true, I’ve always sort of leaned in the direction of radio and music.
Which is where you’re at today, with The Agoraphobic Cowboy – Warner’s has picked up the new album.
Yeah, basically I’m the record company and there’s an independent distribution company, which is owned by Warner’s, is releasing it – it’s not quite the same thing as Warner’s picking it up. They’re really not the record company – I’m the record company, and they distribute all kinds of smaller labels. And we plugged into the Warner Canada system, so Warner Music Group in Canada made the announcement; I guess it kinda looks like Warner’s picked it up. And I guess to some extent they have, but it’s not like a conventional record deal where they gave me a huge advance or something like that – they’re really just acting as a distributor.
You guys totally won with the album before Warner’s picked it up to distribute it.
Yeah, but the web penetration that we had was limited and so through these distribution deals, we’ll have wider digital release and retail release, so we’ll see what happens. It may all be a big waste of time or it might work.
Well, I’ve certainly got a handy way to pick a copy up for my dad now.
I really want to talk about, in part, this decision you made to do it yourself, just because it afforded you the freedom of doing it and putting out on the web. I was reading on Artist Share, what it’s all about and it talks a lot about how it opens up the creativity for the artist, but it doesn’t talk a lot about their philosophy behind the concept of making it available on the web, as in downloading files directly from the web, which is how I got it. I wanted to know your feelings about putting something out digitally, which at that point, the fear is, it’s out there where anyone can get at it.
Yeah, well, you know, there’s a couple of different issues there, I think with respect to digital rights and the cost of music being reduced just by virtue of the fact so much of it is available for free, I think one of the reasons Artist Share can continue to succeed is that generally the cost of production in music has come way down, and mine is certainly a case in point. I was not going to make this album if I had to go in and rent a studio for a month in Manhattan, some 30-64 track studio and Pro Tools set up, and hire musicians and hire some sort of house producer. The only way this could’ve gotten made is the way that it did, which is by Tony Scherr in his house on an 8 track, analog machine.
So, there was no production cost, essentially, and he played all the guitars, so there were no musician’s costs. We paid session fees to a drummer and a banjo player and a mandolin and a fiddle player as we used them, and that was the extent of the production costs. I didn’t have to play a writer, ’cause it’s me and I didn’t have to pay the singer, ’cause it’s me.
We even manufactured a limited number of albums, so going in the cost was very low and so we were able to get into the black on this thing through fairly minimal sales over artist share in a reasonable amount of time. In terms of what Artist Share’s trying to do, it’s doing it at a time when the cost of production is low enough in this garage band world we’re in, where anybody can make music fairly cheaply. Now, having said that, the promotion and marketing of music and retailing of music is still not quite where people can completely walk away from it. The Maria Carey’s of the world are still going to make very expensive albums, very expensive videos and spend a lot of money on promotion and publicity to get the world out on that, however they have to do it to get any airplay, and there’s plenty of artists still doing that.
The thing about artist share specifically, and I’m by no means the perfect client for them, is what Brian is doing is more than just selling music all over the web. In fact he more or less made an exception in my case, because this was such a different kind of project.
Usually he has mostly jazz artists, and other kinds of artists, but if you explore around the Artist Share site, beyond just the buying of the finished goods for $14.95, with his different jazz artists, there’s different levels of participation and interactivity, so you can become a subscriber, as it were, or participant at different levels, in the process. Brian believes in marketing the creative process, so if you spend 35 dollars, or 69 dollars or whatever the price breaks are for Maria Schneider, or one of his other jazz artists, you will get a lot more than the finished product – you will have had access to the recording of it, tutorials, sheet music, a diary she keeps o the session, basically some radio, some outtakes, you’ll be able to listen in on sessions. He’s selling much more than just the finished product, and as a result, Maria Schneider, who’s doing something that’s next to impossible to do right now, which is to sustain and fund big band jazz, is making money. She has a huge database of international fans, and participants in her process, who spent money to finance her recording. And they share not only in the final product, but all those other things I mentioned.
I don’t know if ultimately if I’m going to build my site out to do that kind of thing, and take it to an interactive level with Artist Share or not. This was an experiment for me and Brian – we’ve only been doing it for about three months. We wound up getting tremendous feedback and a Grammy nomination, and now as a result, I’m taking it unilaterally, to another level of distribution, to see if I can actually get more success on the retail side and wider digital side, so I can fund another project or two.
So, artist share’s story is a very unique story, and they certainly made history last year, with Maria Schneider winning a Grammy for the first ever record to win a Grammy that was never available in a store. I don’t know that my story is the perfect example of an artist share enterprise, let alone success, because there are other artists’ there who are really using his philosophy to much much more profound success and deeper levels of exploitation. So that’s that part of your question.
My sprawling morning question.
Yeah, these are exactly the issues that everybody’s talking about out there. They’re not just sprawling questions – everyone’s sprawling over them because no one can quite figure it out. The retail stores are closing everyday and the Starbucks are opening everyday. You buy your music in coffee stores, and you buy your coffee in bookstores, and everybody’s selling everything, so nobody quite knows where this is going to end up.
I think it’s different if you’re a professional, working musician, with a touring band and a record deal and all of those things. In my case, this may or may not be a one off thing. I may do more depending on whether I can have some success at this level. Like I said, I couldn’t have been able to do this if I couldn’t have produced it low budget. I was very fortunate in Brian introducing me to Tony Scherr – that I wound up with a product that not only got across the comedy I was intending, but with his skill and expertise and technical facility, he was able to turn it into what I think is a pretty good sounding record and has a level of musicality that makes it hold its own and it’s more than just a novelty, comedy record.
He deserves enormous amount of credit for the musicality and technicality of it, but he also deserves a lot of credit for really, basically, stacking his services. He’s a successful musician, and he’s past the point that he’s motivated by money. I guess he’s comfortable enough that he just likes to work with the people he likes and the projects he likes. Were he not able to do this like this, or Brian not able to find someone like him to do this, I wouldn’t hav e been able to spend, I dunno, a $150K to produce an album of this quality. No way.
I don’t think if you play it for the average person you’d be able to tell one way or another that you did or didn’t spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was just the two of you working to make it sound the way you wanted it to sound.
This is a guy that’s been at this for so long, and he looks after his equipment, and he’s really made a studio of engineering and recording and producing and playing and was very precise with what he was doing, but not neurotic about it. Very decisive, very instinctive, very intuitive, at every phase. At every level of this he put as much care into it as he was capable. And he did the same with everything else he produces in his house.
He played me some of the stuff he was doing for his next solo album and it was incredible. Even when I went out to his house the first time, he played me some early Nora Jones and Jesse Harris, and Sex Mob, which is a jazz band, four piece ensemble that he plays with here in New York and it was incredible. Just pure, beautiful, clinging, gorgeous stuff. And he said, “I do my vocals in that room, and on the scratch tracks I’ll have the drummer in the room. I’ll have you behind that little partition over there and there won’t be any leak…” It’s just amazing what he can accomplish in that little place.
And he’s an analog holdout. He refuses to use digital recording techniques because he doesn’t think it gives is a warm enough sound. Again the reasons we could do this at his house is because, from the very beginning when he first heard the songs, he said, “we could do this in 8 tracks.” I’ve written a couple of things since then that we couldn’t do in 8 tracks – too many instruments to record. This lent itself to being recorded at his house, because of the genre and because of the way we both kind of heard it, with limited instrumentation and more of a traditional sound.
I read a couple of interviews where you talked about how you reached a point where you… you didn’t want to work with the giant labels… you talked about how you’d reached the same conclusion with the film industry – you didn’t want to deal with the baggage and bullshit. It sounds like your writing more stuff – are you going to keep rolling on the music rather than worrying about updating your listings in the IMDB?
You’re sort of right, but not quite.
I’m going to play the “it’s 8AM” card as much as possible.
That’s ok, that’s what interviews are all about, asking questions. What I’ve said and what is the truth, is that the reason that I took a break from filmmaking had to do with personal issues. I was a single parent and I needed to spend more time at home. And I discovered within a couple of years, I didn’t miss it at all. I really had grown very tired of the travel and the hotels and the whole process of movie and television production. I’d kinda done everything I wanted to do and wasn’t looking to get back into it.
Now the delineation that you’re alluding to, with respect to the industry, I didn’t have problems with the film industry. The films industry is just a means of producing and marketing and distributing product and you can do it at the low end or the high end – you can do it with big budget special FX movies or with low budget independent films. For me the delineation was the difference between the kind of work I was doing on SCTV or in the very early films, like the very first Ghostbusters or Spaceballs, where I was writing my own stuff and having a great time. That’s what we did in those days on SCTV and even before that. All the stuff I did, I wrote.
And once I became a commodity for hire, and was asked to be in other people;’s movies, it stopped being about the creativity, the writing, and it became more about being a marketable entity. I guess what they call a star. Hitting the mark and saying the lines and doing the work that the scriptwriters and executives and the director wanted the actor to do, was perfectly acceptable way to spend time and make a living, but it was not fulfilling creatively, the way the early work had been. I knew as I was taking a break from it that if I went back to it, I was not going to go back to it in that way. If I ever went back, I’d go back to it in a much more creative way.
Through the years I was at home and not shooting anything, I was doing some voice acting stuff to pay the rent, and doing some writing for op-ed pieces and trying a couple of different forms, not really paying much attention to finishing them – and then literally out of the blue, a couple of years ago, I just started writing these tunes.
Now I’d always written songs way way way back when, before I started out in being able to make a living as a comedian, all through college and stuff I was writing a lot of bad poetry and a lot of lame songs. In much the same way that I had started out in comedy, writing stand-up material or sketches or even the sketches on SCTV, now I was writing pieces to sell to newspapers and I started writing these songs.
What I enjoyed about the process of making this album was at that the collaboration with Tony was very very similar to the collaboration with Dave on SCTV or the collaboration with Ken Finkleman on the CBC – it was two guys having a great time, enjoying each others work and the experience of inventing something and producing something on a small scale. With no expectation whatsoever that it would work or not work for anyone outside of the room. That’s what felt good, was that I was back plugged into something, producing something that I had a hand in creating, as opposed to hitting the marks and saying the lines on someone else’s show. It wasn’t the industry I had problems with, it was my own decision to participate in it as a non-creative person.
So we can safely expect that Rick Moranis will return to film, but on your own terms. You’re in a position where you can approach it however you’re comfortable.
Yeah, I mean if Mel Brooks says, “Hey let’s make the Spaceballs sequel”, even though that’s a big budget, special FX movie, I know the terrain, I know we gotta make it up, we gotta write it. That kind of thing would appeal to me. If a director and said, “Hey I’ve got a script” – well, it happens all the time – it doesn’t have a lot of frequency now, people know I’m probably going to say no, but every so often I’ll get a call from an agent or a network executive or a studio person or a director – “Hey I’m doing this movie and we really want you, and dah-dah-dah-dah, and you did this character years ago”, and on and on and on, you know, to me it’s still three months out of town – it doesn’t interest me. Go find someone that will enjoy it.
William Atherton always complained in a good natured way, he couldn’t go anyplace without someone yelling Dickless at him – I know that everyone knows Rick Moranis, I’m wondering how much you run into it. Do you get people stopping you a lot, talking passionately about the stuff that you’ve done? You cross the boards, from Spaceballs to Ghostbusters to Honey I shrunk the Kids, a wide demographic of fans how enjoy the stuff that you do.
Some of that stuff is time sensitive – in 1983 Dave and I couldn’t walk down the street. To everybody, especially in Canada, we were like the Beatles and everyone wanted to talk to us and get autographs. Now it’s different. People still recognize me and some times they know my name, sometimes they don’t, sometimes they point at me at go, “Hey, Honey I Shrunk the Kids.” Obviously it’s a little different in Canada, it’s different for different age groups.
I’ve kept a pretty low profile for several years and it’s cable television that’s kept my face up there and I guess I still resemble myself a little bit – not that I’m the agoraphobic cowboy or anything, but I’m not all over the place, moving around that much. I’m in my neighbourhood and I think everyone’s pretty bored of me in the neighbourhood. The other day I went out to do something and someone on the street stopped me and said something, but you sort of get used to that and people are really nice, but here’s what’s been interesting that I’ve encountered in the last three months. And I’m still encountering it.
I sort of tracked over the web the dissemination and the frequency of the spreading of the information about the album. As I was getting feedback on it from journalists and media people, radio people, and fans and not so-fans – their was a definite bifurcation. There were actually two. In the country world they immediately got it and appreciated it – they just knew what it was. They knew I wasn’t making fun of them, they knew there was a reason that I wasn’t wearing a hat and boots and cowboy shirt and doing any of that. They got it.
Whereas in non-country world and the straighter entertainment world, they were a little bit thrown by the album. Maybe it was because I called it a country album, as opposed to a comedy album. They really didn’t understand. It was almost like it’s OK to play an instrument, it’s OK for Woody Allen to play the clarinet or Steve Martin to play the banjo, but if you’re singing, then you’re automatically, what? Trying to be something else? They couldn’t quite get a handle on it.
I had made it clear on the notes on my website that the inspiration was Ray Stevens and Roger Miller and all those great, funny country songs I grew up listening to. The other interesting bifurcation, which I think has to do in the same way that it’s different for a few of us in Canada then it is elsewhere, is that it’s really an age thing. I mean, yes are new audiences finding Strange Brew and Ghostbusters all the time. No question.
But what I’ve encountered is that there are people that know my background as a comedian and know that I wouldn’t do a country album that didn’t have funny songs on it – they just know that if I’m going to put out an album it’s going to at least to try and be funny. It might not work, but I see myself as a straight singer any more than I see my self as a straight actor. I’m a comedian. And yet there’s a younger part of the audience that don’t know SCTV or the McKenzie brothers, who only grew up with me as the father in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids movies – that’s what they know. And they think I’m trying to pull a David Hasselhoff or a William Shatner. They think I’ve seriously gone out and tried to do something which verboten for some reason, out there in the world, which is to try and do something other than what you’re known for.
Trying to do some sort of ill-fated reinvention of Rick Moranis.
Yeah, so there are blogs out there, which are hilarious to read – obviously they haven’t listened to the songs, but these threads and weblogs that link to each other, “Did you see this? Oh my god, how weird is this. Rick Moranis did a country album. Who’s going to buy that? What a bad idea.” Ok! Fine!
But it’s a reality check, because at the same time that you’re saying that several of us have had what you consider to be affects on popular culture, a lot of what we did is very last century. And there’s a whole bunch of people who have no idea who we are or what we did.
So what you’re trying to say is I’m looking at the world through Rick coloured glasses.
Well, I think it’s a Canadian thing too.
Well, basically that means I’m last century, Rick. What am I going to do now?
To me I kind of approach the movie – if I pay attention close enough, I can always learn something new. The promotion of the movie – prior to that, there were big movies, but Ghostbusters in the vanguard, and everyone takes this for granted now, of setting a new standard in marketing – the idea of a teaser trailer, a poster that has one striking symbol to attract attention. I’m excited that I get to talk to you about this – as you mentioned before, you like to write your own stuff. I’d like to talk about the stuff you got to work on directly – not just the role, but getting to improvise, write your own stuff, just to hear a little about what you were involved in, on a movie I regard as top-notch. Not just as a comedy, but also as a movie in general, I look at it as a textbook movie – if I ever want to learn something about making movies, I can start with Ghostbusters and see what I can pick out of it
Yeah, well you mention a lot of really interesting and original points about the marketing [of the movie] and place that it falls into – the movie business and the comedy business and the special effects business. After hearing what you just said, there’s probably a significant article, if not a book, in that. Because you do make a lot of interesting points, – and I have very very little to do with this – I just happened to be the right person in the right place at the right time.
It was the third time out with Ivan and Bill. They’d done Meatballs and Stripes – they were very comfortable working with each other. Ivan knew how he wanted to make movies and as a producer – I always said the reason Ivan directs movies is that as the producer, he hires the right guy for the job – and he also knew that the funniest way to get, the best way to get comedy on the set is to have Harold there on the set, and if Harold is not directing, stick him in the movie, which is why Harold was in Stripes and he was in Ghostbusters. Harold likes to act, but he doesn’t see himself as an actor anymore than I do.
It came after this period of blockbuster-ization that grew out of the 70s via, primarily, Spielberg. Jaws and Close Encounters and all those movies, which completely changed the way that movies were released – they were no longer platformed. They went out on 2000 screens or something like that and hand enormous advanced publicity and marketing campaigns, so Ghostbusters was really the first comedy to come along that took the elements of the new blockbuster-ization of Hollywood, the new science fiction special FX potential that Spielberg and Lucas had also cultivated, and put them together with the best comedians working at that time, Harold and Bill and Danny. So it was capitalizing on the heat of Saturday Night Live, the heat of Spielberg and Lucas, the heat of all of these things coming together to make this movie that by than Ivan had gotten so comfortable to make, with all those elements together. He’s tried to – didn’t he try to do that again a few years ago? It almost looked like he was trying to do Ghostbusters again. He had a smiley face and David Duchovny.
Right! When I first saw that smiley face I said, “Geez, that reminds me of something. What is it?” and it was the teaser campaign of the original Ghostbusters. So – I didn’t see the movie, but it kind of looked like he was trying to do something like that again. But the planets don’t always line up when you want them to, just as they didn’t line up again on Ghostbusters 2. I think you’re absolutely right when you talk about how a lot of things came together in such a way to make that thing turn out to be what it did [on Ghostbusters].
Now in terms of my participation, John Candy, for whatever reason, didn’t take the role that was offered to him. They had all worked together on Stripes and they wanted John to play the part of Louis Tully and he was written as a swinging bachelor, the way you’d write a John Candy character. And all of those guys were – Ivan, Bill, Danny, Harold – they were all represented by Mike Ovitz and CAA, and John wasn’t. And so John was not able to make the deal that he wanted, which is why he didn’t wind up doing the movie.
I was asked to come in and meet Ivan. I’d never met Ivan before. When I went to the office, which I think was in New York, the casting office, there were other people there, people that you’d know – names that you’d know – who were reading for the part, so effectively I was auditioning. We had a meeting and I don’t think you would necessarily exclude other character possibilities when you’re talking to me at that time, in 1982 or 1983 [articles on the making the movie suggest it was likely the first months of 1984] – if you’re Ivan Reitman, “Well if I can’t get John Candy to play a swinging bachelor, who can I get to play a swinging bachelor?” Ivan was too smart for that. He knew the way that comedy worked – he knew if you’re going to get really funny stuff, it’s better to get a comedian and an actor. So rather than get an actor to play a swinging bachelor, get a comedian, and if he’s got a good swinging bachelor, then great, but if he doesn’t have that character, what character does he have?
So we talked a lot about different characters, and he’d seen a few things on SCTV, and he asked me about this one nerdy character that I’d done in a couple of sketches on SCTV, and we started playing around with that and they offered me the movie. Now, I wasn’t professionally, at a point, where I could come close to demand the kind of deal that John Candy would have wanted. I was just happy to get the offer. So I accepted the terms – I also was not with CAA – and went on to make the movie. Coming from Second City, it was a very easy transition for me – meeting and getting to know Dan. I already knew Harold. Through a couple of other Second City people, I was meeting Ivan and Bill for the first time, and obviously Sigourney for the first time, but the very first thing I did was sit down with Harold and start talking about taking a stab at some of the scenes. Because, if there’s an apartment scene – there was that party scene with the dog – the swinging bachelor script would be very different than one with my playing the character. So I wrote the scene. I can’t remember if Harold rewrote the scene or not, but my input was invited and encouraged and it was a very warm atmosphere.
Now, in terms of improvisation, it’s very hard to improv on film, because you have to set technical parameters – you can’t suddenly move in a new direction, because the camera’s not ready for it, the boom operator’s not ready for it, lighting’s not ready for it – you have to set your marks. The crew has to know what you’re going to do, almost completely. There are certain things you can do within limits, but they have to know what the blocking is. That Ivan would do, to his credit, is bring in the crew, block out the scene, then send the crew out for a coffee and he’d say, “come on Harold, let’s punch this up, let’s make it better.” And if it involved technical changes, he’d bring the crew back in to look at it again, and re-block it, or re-tape it or relight it or whatever, but he was always looking for lets make this the funniest we can make it right now, and if it’s Danny and Bill and Harold and Ivan and hopefully me, then we should be able to do better than what’s on the page, and if we can’t, it’s because the page is good enough, but we’ll really challenge it. And that’s the way we did it on Strange Brew and that’s the way we did it on Spaceballs, and that’s the way we did it on SCTV and that’s the way I’ve done it on everything until I got to the movies later in my career. Little Giants, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, which were studio written movies -and they wanted input, but they weren’t those kinds of movies. You understand what I mean.
I understand, yeah.
So that’s my history with Ghostbusters and how my input was encouraged and used.
I want to go back to something you said, about the character on SCTV Ivan was asking about. When I picked up the SCTV DVDs, I was watching them, and seeing a lot of stuff I hadn’t seen before, or hadn’t seen in a long time, because the big long episodes had been chopped up into half hour episodes for syndication, and I remember seeing, what I think is the sketch you were talking about, the nerdy character, and thinking “this reminds my of Louis. A lot.” So I’m glad you said that, I was always curious if that was the pseudo-Louis. A starting point for the character. He was way more of a nerd than Louis…
He had the big thick glasses and bad complexion. You’d go into the make-up room and just try and be as outrageous as you could in certain scenes. When I saw what Andrea looked like in that I thought, “OK, alright – who would she bring home to marry into this family?” and the idea was also, “Can I be disruptive enough – can I make these people laugh so hard they can’t be able to shoot the scene. That was really the goal there.”
The thing about Louis, if you read any of the books on the making of Ghostbusters and it says that John Candy was going to be in it, you have a tough time imagining – and this is to you credit – Louis comes across as not just a bit character that gets possessed. You, in a very short period of time, introduce us to this earnest if bumbling Louis, and then the audience is worried about him when he becomes possessed. And I don’t think most people can wrap there head around john candy coming out to chat up Sigourney Weaver.
Well, John as a swinging bachelor, the Johnny LaRue character, John would have done a…
I guess where I’m heading is that it’s stamped in people’s brain that Louis is you. It would have been interesting to see John’s take on it, but everyone loves you as Louis.
To Ivan’s credit, he knew that by having a character as broad as Louis in that mix, it almost made the other stuff a little bit more believable. Here he’s got a movie with Ghosts and terror dogs and all breaking loose in New York City and he needs it to be really believable, so there’s a number of ways to do that. You make you’re main characters really earnest, really committed to doing what they’re doing. Even though Bill is hipster cynic, kind of taking shots at the whole thing, he’s playing it straight – it’s happening and he’s killing those ghosts with his gun.
But another way to do it is to just get a little cartoony with your peripheral characters here and there. And I think that was another value and wise choice by Ivan was to have Louis so broad a characterization that everything else could seem, by comparison, a little bit more believable. It was by no means the only thing that did that – there were plenty of other things that did – but it was a wise choice by Ivan.
I had the opportunity to tell the director of Shaun of the Dead that I equated, at a basic level, his movie with Ghostbusters. In my mind it’s taken this many years to successfully pull off another comedy that’s all about the end of the world – the one aspect didn’t dilute the other, they had a nice balance, which to be honest, I’m not sure how often that gets pulled off. I guess you see it in Men in Black and the press hit on that, calling Men in Black, Ghostbusters for the 90s.
That’s a good comparison. It had the same kind of quality, didn’t it?
It seems almost a once-a-decade sort of thing – Ghostbusters in the 80s, Men in Black in the 90s, and Shaun of the Dead for now. It all comes back to my love of Ghostbusters that I like to start with Ghostbusters and compare everything since then to it and I can walk away with, hopefully, some better understand of what makes things click.
I’m going to put you on the spot, and you don’t have to say anything – you mentioned having to go in to read for Louis, and you mentioned there were other people we would know. Can we find out who some of them are…?
Nooo, no no no no no.
That’s never fair.
I knew it was gauche, but I took the shot anyhow. Forget I said anything.
I always have to ask – what is it about the movie that makes it endure the way it does?
Well, the short answer is that it’s funny. I think there are people out there who are much better able to give a longer analysis, you among them, as to why it works. Certainly the balance of characters. Bill’s kind of cool, and Danny’s earnestness – those kinds of things. The quality of the special effects, but primarily I would say that it’s a well paced, engaging, really funny movie and that’s why it continues to appeal to new audiences and old audiences.
I go the first day to see everything Bill does, because I think Bill is unusually gifted on the big screen. I think he has a lot to do with what makes that movie work, but you know, he had a terrific script, and great comedians to work with, and Ivan knew exactly how to get the best out of him, and how to give him all the freedom he needed and when to reign him in. Look at Bill’s work, look at Bill in Stripes and Groundhog Day – he’s an unusual comedian on film, and unusual actor. Just to fantastic, so appealing, so funny that I think that has a lot to do with it.
It’s a long shot to be sure, but hypothetically speaking, if it all came together, would you go back to do a third movie? It always being talked about and I think that people invest a lot of their heart in it, underestimating what it takes to make a movie. But in the land of whimsy, would you go back and do Louis again. I know for a fact that Louis is, potentially CFO in the next movie. Is there someplace to go with the character?
I think I might be a little too old to put on that equipment again. I think at some point every Canadian knows when to hang up their skates and I think I’d rather remember Louis the way he was and not try and figure who he is in his 50s.
There’s a debate online, do you make it with the old crew or with a bunch of new kids.
I thought the funny was had in one movie. I didn’t like the experience in shooting the second one, or the final product.
From a Ghostbusters perspective, that’s kind of downer point, but it’s not all that different from what a lot of people feel, and the chat didn’t end there. We spoke some more about the album, in particular it’s being up for a Grammy (ultimately Chris Rock ran off with the award) – in 2006 it’s fun to talk about what was and how a movie like Ghostbusters got made, but for Rick Moranis, there’s a lot of other things to do. As he’d mentioned, he has other ideas for other albums, which will be more of a challenge to record – for a guy interested in the creative process, Ghostbusters was an excellent example of been there and Ghostbusters 2 was clearly a done that. Time for something new. With a friendly goodbye, my chat with the Agoraphobic Cowboy came to an end. It was going to say he rode off into the sunset, but it sounds kind of corny. Suffice to say Rick Moranis out there, somewhere, plotting something creative.