Advertisement
UK markets closed
  • NIKKEI 225

    37,961.80
    -509.40 (-1.32%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    16,251.84
    +2.87 (+0.02%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    82.75
    -2.61 (-3.06%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    2,392.60
    -15.20 (-0.63%)
     
  • DOW

    37,815.57
    +16.60 (+0.04%)
     
  • Bitcoin GBP

    49,362.50
    -1,207.55 (-2.39%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    885.54
    0.00 (0.00%)
     
  • NASDAQ Composite

    15,737.75
    -127.50 (-0.80%)
     
  • UK FTSE All Share

    4,273.02
    +12.61 (+0.30%)
     

Finn Wolfhard Talks ‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,’ The Grandeur of ‘Stranger Things 5’ and ‘SNL 1975’

Finn Wolfhard’s second collaboration with Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, hits theaters in less than ten days, but the young actor has already reunited with the writing duo for a third time on the set of their highly anticipated drama, SNL 1975. If that wasn’t enough, the Canadian performer is also hard at work on Stranger Things 5, the final season of Netflix’s most beloved series to date.

After the tragic death of Ghostbusters co-creator Ivan Reitman in February 2022, Jason Reitman eventually relinquished Frozen Empire’s directorial duties to his writing partner on these two most recent Ghostbusters films, Kenan. After all, 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife was a personal experience for the filmmaker, as Ivan was by his side for most of its production as well as its release. The 2021 sequel to Ghostbusters II (1989), which is about the family of Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) coming to terms with the legacy they’ve inherited from the deceased Ghostbuster, also allowed Reitman to confront his own complicated relationship with his father’s franchise.

More from The Hollywood Reporter

ADVERTISEMENT

For Wolfhard, it immediately made sense why Reitman had to transition to the role of writer-producer on Frozen Empire.

“We talked about it. He was going to direct [Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire] for a little bit, but there’s a constant level of mourning that you have to do when someone that close to you passes away,” Wolfhard tells The Hollywood Reporter. “And to direct something where he’d be thinking about him all the time, I am sure that it would have been really emotionally heavy. So I think it was really helpful for Jason to take a step back in more of a producer role.”

Wolfhard goes on to say that the transition to Kenan was seamless, given his existing involvement in the revived franchise as co-writer and executive producer.

“I must say that it was not much of a pivot. There wasn’t much to get used to when it came to Gil, because of how immersed he was in the DNA of the first movie,” Wolfhard adds.

Over the weekend, Wolfhard was photographed outside of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (officially known as the Comcast Building), shooting scenes for the Reitman-directed SNL 1975. The Vancouver native plays an NBC paige in the drama that chronicles the true story about the events leading up to the first broadcast of Saturday Night Live on Oct. 11, 1975. Reitman and Kenan both conducted extensive interviews with the living cast, crew and writers, such as Dan Aykroyd, who also regaled Wolfhard with SNL tales on the Frozen Empire set.

“I just can’t believe it. I’m so excited for people to see [SNL 1975]. A lot of the interiors and stuff like that are going to be shot in Atlanta, but the other night, we shot outside of 30 Rock, for real, and on film, with a bunch of old ‘70s picture cars,” Wolfhard says. “Everyone is really trying to do right by these incredible performers and people on this night. I’m not a main character, but just to be a part of the ensemble is a gift. I play an NBC paige who’s trying to get everyone to come and see the show.”

As far as Stranger Things 5, Wolfhard says the scale of the final season has increased, but it’s done so in a way that still feels relatively contained.

“This last season is sort of a crossroads, and so we’re getting back into a lot of the dynamics of season one, which is really fun,” Wolfhard shares. “There’s some ‘leader Mike’ moments, and it’s a very grand season, obviously. Every season has gotten bigger and bigger and bigger, and this season is huge, but it’s also kind of isolated as well.”

Wolfhard is grateful that the cast is back together after being separated into three different storylines on Stranger Things 4. He even admits that he felt a bit of envy over the Hawkins story, as Dustin, Lucas, Erica, Max, Steve, Nancy, Eddie and Robin tried to solve the teenage murders that eventually led them to Vecna.

“We really didn’t shoot very much for the first few months of production, because they were so focused on all the Hawkins stuff. So I was really jealous,” Wolfhard admits. “Even when I finally watched the show, my favorite part was watching the other guys in Hawkins. I just liked that storyline so much. So, yeah, not being around everyone all the time was definitely a bummer about filming 4, but 5 is the opposite. We’re all together all the time.”

Below, during a recent conversation with THR, Wolfhard also discusses where his Ghostbusters character, Trevor, begins in Frozen Empire, before reflecting on his latest efforts as a director and musician.

When you first received the Frozen Empire script, what was your initial reaction upon finishing it? 

I was just so excited that we were doing a second one. The first one was such an incredible experience, and so reading the second one was just really exciting and insanely fun.

Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), Lars Pinfield (James Acaster), Podcast (Logan Kim) and Ray (Dan Aykroyd) in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.
Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), Lars Pinfield (James Acaster), Podcast (Logan Kim) and Ray (Dan Aykroyd) in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.

What’s Trevor’s state of mind when we’re reintroduced to him? What’s going on with him at the start?

Everyone has moved into the firehouse from [Ghostbusters] ‘84, and Trevor is getting used to living in the big city and a new house that’s really an old abandoned firehouse. So he’s just trying to be an independent adult, but he can’t just because of how immature he can be, sometimes.

The great Ivan Reitman passed away a few months after the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and considering that the movie was such a personal experience for him and Jason Reitman, did you immediately understand why Jason had to take a step back from directing this one? 

Oh yeah. We talked about it. He was going to direct [Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire] for a little bit, but there’s a constant level of mourning that you have to do when someone that close to you passes away. And to direct something where he’d be thinking about him all the time, I am sure that it would have been really emotionally heavy. So I think it was really helpful for Jason to take a step back in more of a producer role.

Gil Kenan wrote both movies with Jason, so were you glad to have someone step in who knows these characters as well as anyone? 

Definitely. I must say that it was not much of a pivot. There wasn’t much to get used to when it came to Gil, because of how immersed he was in the DNA of the first movie.

Since we’re on the subject of Gil and Jason, you’ve already reunited with them on the set of SNL 1975. What can you add to what’s been announced? 

Well, some [paparazzi] photos came out yesterday, but yeah, I just can’t believe it. I’m so excited for people to see it. A lot of the interiors and stuff like that are going to be shot in Atlanta, but the other night, we shot outside of 30 Rock, for real, and on film, with a bunch of old ‘70s picture cars. Looking up at the top of 30 Rock while filming was the most surreal experience, and the cast is unbelievable. Everyone is really trying to do right by these incredible performers and people on this night. I’m not a main character, but just to be a part of the ensemble is a gift. I play an NBC paige who’s trying to get everyone to come and see the show.

Returning to Ghostbusters, did you have more interaction with the legacy cast both on and off camera this time?

Yeah, tons more. We spent so many days together on set, and we hung out a few times outside of set as well. Dan [Aykroyd], Annie [Potts] and everyone are such open books, and you can ask them anything about their lives and their industry stories. You can ask Dan about SNL in 1975, and he just remembers it all off the top of his head. So it’s really surreal to be in a room with these people, but they make you feel equal, which is really nice. There’s no ego or anything. There’s mutual respect.

Yeah, I was just thinking that Jason and Gil probably got the ball rolling on SNL 1975 by talking to Dan during the making of these latest Ghostbusters movies.

Absolutely. Jason will be able to talk about it more one day, but he tried to do the best research he could for that specific night, and he did an incredible job.

Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard on the set of Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.
Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard on the set of Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE.

Is it still hard to grasp that you’ll forever be known as a Ghostbuster?

I think about this all the time. It’s really weird, and I don’t think I’m going to really process it until I’m 40 and I have kids. When we were filming [Frozen Empire], I remember getting into my suit and just looking in the mirror and being like, “What the hell?” Just having my own suit was so surreal. If I were to tell my 12-year-old self all this, he would die. It’s so crazy. All I know is that I’m very lucky to be a part of these ensembles of great actors and to be a part of projects that touch so many people and reach a lot of people and make a lot of people laugh.

The fact that you cosplayed as a Ghostbuster on Stranger Things 2 has been covered at length, but I can’t think of any other example where someone cosplayed as a character in one role and then ended up becoming that character elsewhere. Mckenna Grace dressed up as a Ghostbuster in real life, but that’s not what I’m referring to here. Has anyone ever brought up another example to you? 

No, I don’t think so. I’ve never heard of it. I’m trying to think if there’s anything off the top of my head, but there must have been something on a smaller scale. The only thing that comes to mind is Bill Hader doing a lot of Star Wars sketches on SNL and then playing BB-8 in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But it’s not the same or as directly connected. So it is crazy.

When I was auditioning for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Jason, in a normal way, was cautiously optimistic about it. I had already dressed up as a Ghostbuster on Stranger Things, and initially, there’s the thought of, “Is it tacky to have the kid [who dressed up as a Ghostbuster on Stranger Things]?” I don’t think this is what he specifically thought, but I had that idea in my head. I was like, “I don’t know if he’s going to dig this.” But we got along so well and I really cared about the project, so everything else just didn’t even matter. They felt like such separate projects.

Do you know if Trevor and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) officially went by the last name Spengler in the last movie? The reason I ask is because no one actually said their last name, nor was it written anywhere. And since they didn’t know Egon Spengler was their grandfather, it suggests that they went by their estranged father’s last name. Someone at some point would’ve asked them about Egon if they went by Spengler. 

You should ask Gil that question when you talk to him this weekend, because I don’t know and I don’t even know if he knows. But I’d love to know. I’d also love for [Trevor and Phoebe’s] dad to come back into the picture. I think it would be really funny. [Writer’s Note: At the end of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Carrie Coon’s Callie introduces herself to Bill Murray’s Dr. Venkman as “Callie Spengler,” but she may have just been using her maiden name in front of someone who knew her father. That moment also took place after she’d finally learned the truth behind her father’s abandonment, indicating that she was proud to re-associate with him.]

So how’s our buddy Mike Wheeler doing? 

He is well! He’s good. This last season is sort of a crossroads, and so we’re getting back into a lot of the dynamics of season one, which is really fun. There’s some “leader Mike” moments, and it’s a very grand season, obviously. Every season has gotten bigger and bigger and bigger, and this season is huge, but it’s also kind of isolated as well. So it’s really fun, and I’m very excited for people to see it.

Eduardo Franco as Argyle, Noah Schnapp as Will Byers, Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, and Charlie Heaton as Jonathan in STRANGER THINGS.
Eduardo Franco as Argyle, Noah Schnapp as Will Byers, Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, and Charlie Heaton as Jonathan in STRANGER THINGS.

Season four was a great season, but everybody was siloed in their own faraway storylines. Was it a bummer at times to be isolated from the rest of the cast?

Yeah, definitely. But it was also really nice to have a storyline with people that I hadn’t really acted with for a long time, like Charlie Heaton, who plays Jonathan. I never really had full scenes with him ever. I was already very close friends with Charlie, but just being able to really have scenes with him was really nice. And then spending time with Noah [Schnapp] and everyone was great.

We really didn’t shoot very much for the first few months of production, because they were so focused on all the Hawkins stuff. So I was really jealous. I was like, “Aw, man.” Even when I finally watched the show, my favorite part was watching the other guys in Hawkins. I just liked that storyline so much. So, yeah, not being around everyone all the time was definitely a bummer about filming 4, but 5 is the opposite. We’re all together all the time, and a bunch of us live around the corner and across the street from each other in real life. So the cast is really seeing each other a lot, and we’re in a lot of the same scenes, which has been really great.

Season four was delayed by the pandemic, and season five was delayed by the strikes. In another universe without those delays, the final episodes probably would’ve been released by now. Has it been frustrating that you’ve had all these incredibly rare obstacles, or are you glad that this experience has been extended? 

I’m definitely not frustrated. It is what it is. You spend so much time on a show that it’s all-encompassing, and it’s something that means so much to me. It’s the thing that made my career, and it really shaped my life. So as far as the show not coming out yet, the only frustrating part is wanting to see it and having to wait. I just want people to see it and I want to be able to see it. But the rest of it? No. I’m indebted to Stranger Things, and it’ll take however long it’s going to take. There’s no way to control that, so you might as well just ride it.

I believe you guys have another nine months of shooting, but how are things feeling so far?

Yeah, we’re about three months in, and it’s really crazy. You think about how to be as present as possible, but then at the same time, you’re conflicted that this is the last one. So I’m trying to find that balance of staying present while also knowing that this is going to be the last season. But it’s been great.

So you co-directed a slasher movie not too long ago in Hell of a Summer, and hopefully it’ll release this year. Do you have a newfound appreciation for what your directors have to deal with each day? Did it change your perspective in some specific ways?

Absolutely. You learn from the other side in all ways, and the stuff you would never think about as an actor is super interesting. If a prop is broken or something isn’t working, there’s just these little technical things that you would never think about as an actor, but I’m glad that I was an actor beforehand and that I understood actors. But even with that, you learn so much about different actors’ processes and what it’s like to talk to actors. So I’ve always had an appreciation for my directors, but there’s definitely a newfound appreciation now that I know the other side of it as well.

What’s the latest with your music? Are you making it under your name now, or is it still the Aubreys?

The Aubreys will always be around. It will always be a project with me and Malcolm [Craig]. But I’m in the midst of finding a label and putting out a solo album under my name. So that’ll come out next year, and I’m really excited about it. It’s a little noisier with more rock and lo-fi stuff that I recorded all on tape.

You make music, as does your fictional sister Mckenna Grace. There’s actually a bunch of people from your generation who act and make music. Do you think this is because you and the rest of Gen Z grew up with GarageBand and apps like that at your fingertips?

Definitely. Making music is literally tangible now, so it must be [because we grew up with apps]. I don’t really know why it’s such a natural thing for some actors to be musicians as well, but it’s cool that a lot of people can find their way to music through the technology that’s at their fingertips.

***
Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire releases in theaters nationwide on March 22nd.

Best of The Hollywood Reporter