How A Movie You’ve Never Seen Got Ghostbusters Made

'Bustin' fans really owe The Razor's Edge...

Ghostbusters Bill Murray
Columbia Pictures

It goes without saying that actors have to make difficult career choices and accept work they might not be entirely enthusiastic about. Some have been obligated to make sequels they've gone sour on, some are convinced to work on projects they thought were something entirely different and some have simply had to take work because they couldn't afford not to. It's no different to any other industry when it boils down to it.

There are some actors, though, who you might expect not to work like that. Bill Murray, for instance, who somewhat notoriously passed on making Ghostbusters 3 despite seemingly endless pressure to do so. He seems like an actor who makes what he wants to make, having got to the stage of his career that choice can be a luxury he can afford.

But it clearly wasn't always that way and we might arguably have missed out on one of his most iconic and popular performances entirely were it not for his desire to make something else entirely.

Back in the early 1980s, Murray came into possession of W. Somerset Maugham's 1944 novel The Razor's Edge when director John Byrum gave a copy to his wife during a hospital stay. Byrum was keen to adapt the film and Murray became similarly enthusiastic, apparently calling the director at 4am the next day and saying 'This is Larry, Larry Darrell' (the book's leading character).

The pair drove across America writing the film over 18 months and Murray wrote in a eulogy for his recently deceased friend John Belushi, but the project struggled to get off the ground. it was deemed a hard sell and no studio would agree to finance it and without the input of Dan Aykroyd, it might never have been greenlit.

Aykroyd had been writing Ghostbusters - then called Ghostsmashers - as a vehicle for Belushi, but his tragic death as Aykroyd was rewriting the project with Ivan Reitman left him without a star. So he approached Murray to step in, suggesting that he could star in Ghostbusters in exchange for Columbia Pictures also financing The Razor's Edge. The actor agreed, the studio greenlit the deal and on the final day of filming, Murray flew to New York to start making Ghostbusters.

Unfortunately for Murray, his passion project ended up being a flop (as those other studios had clearly predicted it would be) and it led to him taking a four year absence from acting to study philosophy and history in Paris. Ghostbusters, meanwhile, became the highest grossing film of 1984.

Just goes to show, passion projects aren't always the best idea.

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Executive Editor

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