A lot of people had a lot of opinions—positive, negative, and dumb—about the recently released Ghostbusters trailer. But the one that’s probably been generating the most discussion is the claim that it was retrograde, if not overtly racist, to cast the black Leslie Jones as a street-smart MTA worker while the three white leads play scientific professionals at the top of their fields. However, an interesting wrinkle was added to this controversy when the film’s director and co-writer Paul Feig pointed out in an interview with Empire, apparently conducted before an online backlash resulted in Jones threatening to quit Twitter, that Jones’ role was originally written for her co-star Melissa 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, who previously directed McCarthy in Bridesmaids and Spy. Feig went on to explain that he was impressed by Jones’ outsize presence as a performer and wanted to harness that for the big screen. “She’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,” he said. “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.”
On Tuesday, after the controversy had reached its zenith, Feig hopped onto Twitter to defend his cast member.