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Interview: 'Draft Day' director Ivan Reitman on why he's not doing 'Ghostbusters III'

"Draft Day" director Ivan Reitman talks about the old school charms of Kevin Costner, on directing around critics and why he's not doing "Ghostbusters III."

The latest from director Ivan Reitman ("Stripes," "Ghostbusters") is "Draft Day." Credit: Getty Images The latest from director Ivan Reitman ("Stripes," "Ghostbusters") is "Draft Day."
Credit: Getty Images

Ivan Reitman returns to the director's chair with the football drama "Draft Day," starring Kevin Costner as the beleaguered general manager of the Cleveland Browns. For Reitman, the film signals a change in what sort of material he wants to direct — which means someone else will be helming "Ghostbusters III."

How do you go about getting non-football fans to care about football?

That's the magic trick of this movie. When we were making it, I knew that if it was only for football fans then the film wasn't right. Because it's really not so much about football, even though it takes place in the football world. It's really about human drama and being under pressure and rising against it.

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And you have Kevin Costner as the guy dealing with that pressure.

There's just something about the guy that looks like he should be doing this and could have done it in his life. I said this to him when I first met him, that there's kind of this inner goodness that he represents, this all-American kind of good guy quality that we as men want to follow, and it's what makes him effective as a movie star. It's sort of what Gary Cooper and all those great, classical old-time Hollywood guys had.

How did he respond to that?

He sort of smiled shyly at me and changed the subject. [Laughs]

Being in charge of a major-league sports team is such a public job, with so many fans and critics offering unsolicited opinions. Sort of like being a movie director, right?

There's 100,000 reviewers out there, not counting all the people who review your movie anyway as individuals and tell their friends, "Yeah, it sucked." It's part of public life today, and it's why I could relate to the story very easily. I felt very much like his job is the job of a director in a movie. I've had to deal with those kinds of pressures.

What are your priorities for choosing projects to direct at this point in your career?

At this age, if I'm going to continue directing, I think it will be things that are a little smaller and more intimate that have a stronger emotional core to them. It sort of led to that decision of withdrawing from "Ghostbusters" as a director. I wanted to do it, but I was always torn for that reason. And then with Harold Ramis' death, it just didn't seem right for me to continue as the director, and I actually thought I'd be more effective as the producer of the project.

What do you think about the die hard "Ghostbusters" fans out there who don't think a third movie is a good idea?

People are cynical, and there's now a million critics out there who let everybody know on a daily basis what they think about everything. People are always almost 90 percent negative on what they don't know, because what's in their imagination is not necessarily correct. I know we have a script that I think will work, and I have a long history of making things work. I've been wrong a bunch of times, but I think this is a really good one, and I think it's worth making. The studio does, too. So we'll see. It will either work or it won't. This will be a very considered sequel, if it's going to happen.

Did you know that Arnold Schwarzenegger keeps talking up the planned "Twins" sequel, "Triplets," during his press appearances?

Oh yeah? I know he wants to do it, but I'm not sure if Universal wants to do it. We have an actually pretty good script that just came in. As a producer I'm certainly interested. I think there's an audience for it, and I think the studio is trying to make up its mind.

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter @nedrick

 
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