Leslie Jones’ character in the new Ghostbusters reboot was originally written for Melissa McCarthy, director Paul Feig has revealed.
The reinvention of the 1984 movie classic, which starred Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, hit the headlines last week after the trailer was released.
Fans took to Twitter to accuse film bosses of racial stereotyping actress Leslie Jones, as she plays a subway worker in the film while the other three women – Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon – all portray scientists.
Jones slammed critics who accused the film of racism, and now director Paul Feig has stepped into the debate, telling Empire magazine that Jones’ role was actually originally written for Melissa.
“When Katie (Dippold, co-writer) and I wrote the script, we had written the role with Melissa in mind. But then I thought, I’ve seen Melissa play a brash, larger than life character,” he said.
“She’s one of my favorite people on the planet,” Feig added of Leslie. “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.”
The director told Empire that in retrospect, he thought the role of Patty was the perfect fit for comedian Jones, who’s a regular contributor and star of Saturday Night Live.
“I wanted to unleash Leslie on the public in the same way we unleashed Melissa on the public in (2011 film) Bridesmaids, with a very showy role,” Feig added.
Jones fired back at her critics on Twitter, but when she contemplated leaving the social media site, Feig stepped in.
“Don’t leave us,” he wrote to Jones on Tuesday. “You are a goddess & one of the warmest funniest forces of nature I know. F**k the haters.”
He later added, “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.”
Ghostbusters is due to be released on July 15.