Leslie Jones’ role as an MTA employee in the Ghostbusters remake has already rubbed people the wrong way, solely based on the trailer. But the character was actually written for Melissa McCarthy at first.
The idea of Jones playing a blue collar worker while the white actresses play scientists disheartened a few people. But as it happens in Hollywood, roles were flipped. Director Paul Feig told Empire in an interview (which the site says was conducted right before the blow-up from the trailer) that he and co-writer Katie Dippold initially wrote the MTA character for McCarthy.
“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!” said Feig. “[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.”
Feig found Jones to be a better fit for the gig, which Jones defended on Twitter last week after a real-life MTA worker reached out to her in a letter.
Likewise, Feig supported Jones, tweeting this week: “You are a goddess & one of the warmest funniest forces of nature I know. Fuck the haters... And haters, attack me all you want but when you attack and insult my cast, you’ve crossed the line. Grow up and leave my cast alone.”
Feig also told Empire he was fully confident Jones could pull it off. “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,” he said. “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.”
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