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‘Spy’ Director Paul Feig on Backlash to Female ‘Ghostbusters’

Paul Feig, the director of the upcoming “Ghostbusters,” admits he was surprised by those who responded negatively to the franchise being rebooted with a female cast.

“The Internet is really funny – I love it, but I hate it at the same time,” says Feig in an interview about his new comedy “Spy,” premiering at SXSW on Sunday. “The first wave when you make an announcement like that is overwhelmingly positive. Everyone’s so happy and you’re like, ‘This is great.’ Then comes the second wave and you’re like, Oh my God. Some of the most vile, misogynistic s— I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Feig said the response on Twitter can be vicious. “The biggest thing I’ve heard for the last four months is, ‘Thanks for ruining my childhood.’ It’s going to be on my tombstone when I die,” notes Feig. “It’s so dramatic. Honestly, the only way I could ruin your childhood is if I got into a time machine and went back and made you an orphan.”

When he receives particularly nasty remarks, Feig says he likes to look up the person’s profile on Twitter. He says, “I figure it’s some wacked-out teenager. But almost constantly it’s someone who’s bio says ‘Proud father of two!’ And has some high-end job. You’re raising children and yet you’re bashing me about putting women in my movie?”

On Monday, Sony announced it would also release a “Ghostbusters” film with a male cast, starring Channing Tatum. Feig says he is not involved with that version. “I’d heard some rumblings about it,” he says of the project. “Who knew there were so many ghosts to be busted in the world?” He adds that he’s a fan of Tatum and the directors Joe and Anthony Russo, but is concentrating on his film. “All I know is my ladies are going to kick ass and I would not want to go into battle without them.”

Feig was originally approached to direct a sequel to “Ghostbusters” but says he couldn’t “get my head around” what to do with a sequel. It was only when it occurred to him that he could utilize the “funny, amazing” women he knows that the idea intrigued him.

“Ghostbusters” will shoot in June and star Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy, who also stars in “Spy.” In that film McCarthy plays a secret agent who has spent her career behind a desk and has to go into the field for the first time. “I’ve always wanted to do a spy movie, but nobody’s going to let me do a Bond or a Bourne movie,” he says. “So I thought I’d write my own for one of the lovely ladies that I love.” But he didn’t have McCarthy in mind, simply because he assumed she was too busy. Then she asked to read the script. “She called me the next morning, saying, ‘I gotta do this, I love it.’ And we adjusted the schedule and made it work, and now I can’t imagine anyone else in the role.”

Feig’s Yahoo series “Other Space” will also premiere its first episode at SXSW on Saturday.

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