Leslie Jones’ Role in Ghostbusters Originally Written for Melissa McCarthy
Who you gonna cast?
There was certainly plenty of disappointment when the first trailer for Ghostbusters dropped, and people got their first glimpse of Leslie Jones‘ Patty. Not because people don’t love Jones (because they do!), but many saw the glimpse we saw of the character as indicative of a larger, racist trope. But did you know that the role was originally created for Melissa McCarthy?
In an interview with Empire Magazine (which was conducted before the trailer was released), Paul Feig reveals that he and co-writer Katie Dippold originally wrote Patty for McCarthy. He says:
We had written the role with Melissa in mind, but then I thought I’ve seen Melissa play a brash, larger than life character. She’s done it in my movies before!. [Leslie’s] one of my favorite people on the planet. I don’t normally like comedy that’s big and loud, but she is able to pull that off in a way that feels real and it’s her.
I want to find the funniest people I know and once I know what’s the funniest thing about them I want that to be the thing that I put on screen and let shine. This is the role that Leslie can shine comedically in. If you’ve ever seen her do stand-up, it’s just who she is. I wanted to unleash Leslie on the public in the same way we unleashed Melissa on the public in Bridesmaids, with a very showy role.
Looking at what we know about the role from what little we’ve seen, you can see how Patty would indeed have been a quintessential Melissa McCarthy role. It’s not like she’s never played loud, brash civil servants before! It’s interesting then that so many of us collectively looked at that part being played by Jones and assumed that it was clearly written for a black character. It says a lot about the preconceived notions we all have when it comes to race.
Obviously, certain things have been rewritten since Jones was cast – the “I don’t know if this is a woman thing, or a race thing” line in the international trailer, for instance – but for the most part, I think we can rest a little easier knowing that the part is 1) one that Jones was enthusiastic as hell to play, and 2) that wasn’t written as a black character, but was cast with a black actress based on talent and appropriateness for the role.
What do you think about the film knowing this? Does it change anything for you? Will you be seeing Ghostbusters when it comes out? Tell us below!
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