BySarah Gibson, writer at
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Sarah Gibson

Nothing soothes our supernatural shivers like Dan Aykroyd's fearless, friendly foursome - the shambolic scientists hunting ghosts around Manhattan. I knew from the first time I saw Ghostbusters that when I grew up, I wanted to be Bill Murray, or Dan Aykroyd or - if I'm wishing - both. Those ambitions remain the same.

Ghostbusters was released 30 years ago this week. The second highest-grossing film of 1984 (next to only Beverly Hills Cop) is one of the most highly-regarded movies of the 80s and, let's face it, it's not hard to see why.

To mark the anniversary, let's take a look back at the team of brilliant Ghostbusters actors at the top of their game, who effortlessly blended humor, wackiness and spirit perfectly...

Bill Murray, Dr. Peter Venkman

Bill has come a long way from holding the Proton Pack, that's for sure. He used his Ghostbusters fame to make more comedies, including Ghostbusters II and Groundhog Day, before finally flexing his dramatic skills in a host of Wes Anderson movies.

When he's not acting, Murray now likes to entertain himself with pastimes like magically appearing at a student house party in Scotland, doing the dishes, and leaving.

Or, sneaking up behind people, covering their eyes with his hands and whispering "Guess who?" - and when they turn around they see Bill Murray and hear the words "no one will ever believe you". Or, reading poetry to construction workers. Or, filming slow-mo walks, you know, just for fun.


Dan Aykroyd, Dr. Raymond Stantz

Aykroyd co-wrote Ghostbusters and gave himself the role of Ray Stantz. And it's still impossible to look at Aykroyd without the Ghostbusters theme leaping into your head. Besides reprising the role in the sequel, Aykroyd remained in demand as a funny leading man in movies like Dragnet, Coneheads, and Yogi Bear. Now, one movie Aykroyd desperately wants to make is Ghostbusters 3. He's been trying to get the gang back together since 1999, when he wrote a first draft of the script, but the flick is yet to materialize - at least in part because of Murray's refusal to reprise his own role.

But Aykroyd's real passion these days is for spirits - not ghosts (although he's passionate about those too), but the kind you drink. He makes his very own premium vodka. Crystal Head certainly doesn't seem like your usual celebrity vanity project, but Dan swears there's no hangovers - so I'm sold!


Sigourney Weaver, Dana Barrett

Weaver just couldn't catch a break with monsters in the 70s and 80s. After being terrorized by a venomous extraterrestrial in Alien, Weaver was met with more creature turmoils when she took on the role of Dana Barrett, a musician who contacted the ghoul-fighters when her Manhattan apartment got taken over by a demonic presence.

"Horny Sigourney" (as my colleagues like to call her) went on to receive three Oscar nominations for her performances in the films Aliens, Working Girl and Gorillas in the Mist. But despite her commercial success, the actress seems to be unable to escape her penchant for extraterrestrial beings and is now currently working on a sequel to James Cameron's Avatar.


William Atherton, Walter Peck

Quite aside from Ghostbusters, William Atherton has a long and glorious history of playing assholes. He was the nosy reporter in Die Hard, a jerk scientist in Bio-Dome. And he went on to play slimeball Principal Reynolds in Lost.

Before all of that, however, Atherton played Walter Peck, the Environmental Protection Agency guy who shut down the Ghostbusters' operation. Poor old misunderstood Walter Peck. I mean, the protagonists of the movie thought he was being a dipshit for (a) doubting their claims about ghosts, and (b) being concerned about the PROVEN FACT that nuclear materials cause cancer... I bet Atherton was glad to leave that role. In what decade but the 1980s could an EPA inspector be a movie villain?


Ernie Hudson, Winston Zeddemore

Sure, his character wasn't as fleshed out as much as we'd all like, but without Winston, the Ghostbusters would still be in jail (and New York destroyed by Gozer, naturally) because he was the only one able to cut through all the bullshit and convince the mayor that some real bad stuff was about to go down.

Now, Hudson may have memorable guest appearances on TV shows like Modern Family and Law & Order, but he'll still be remembered for - in my humble opinion - the best line in the original Ghsotbusters movie: "When someone asks if you're a God - you say YES!"


Rick Moranis, Louis Tully

Moranis won the role of demon-possessed accountant Louis Tully after John Candy dropped out of Ghostbusters. But besides appearing in the 1989 sequel, he also went on to star in most of my favorite movies of the 80s and 90s - Little Shop of Horrors, Spaceballs, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, and The Flintstones. He's also said he hasn't ruled out appearing in a third Ghostbusters movie, should that ever take place...

Which I sincerely hope it does - if only to see the shy nerd encounter another possession just in time to enliven the dull party he's throwing at his apartment.


Annie Potts, Janine Melnitz

Annie Potts portrayed the Ghostbusters' sassy secretary, Janine Melnitz, who - if she was still around today - would probably be running a pest control company instead, living in the Jersey Shore, owning 17 cats, frequenting cruise ships and singing Cyndi Lauper covers.

Far from feisty (and slightly weird) Janine, however, Potts has since had roles in Law & Order, Ugly Betty and Two and a Half Men, and is best known for Pretty In Pink. But having a romantic interest in Egon the paranormal studies university professor must've really paid off for Annie, because she's is now a professor of drama and (hopefully) employing all of those smart-mouthed phone-answering vibes.


Harold Ramis, Dr. Egon Spengler

Cerebral, funny, and downright smart, Ramis co-wrote Ghostbusters with Dan Aykroyd, and will have people making Zuul references for years to come. And all because of the legendary Harold Ramis, you know who to call in a dicey paranormal situation.

Tragically, Ramis died earlier this year from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a condition he'd battled for years. But prior to his passing, Ramis was a leading figure in comedy for over 40 years and wrote or co-wrote the scripts for National Lampoon's Animal House, Caddyshack, Stripes, Groundhog Day and Analyze This.

R.I.P., Harold, you alchemist of comedy.


Many years and countless viewings later and the sight of a hundred foot marshmallow man stomping down a crowded New York city street still sends a shiver down my spine.


Will Ghostbusters ever lose its magic for you?


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