Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
November 16, 2021

A direct sequel to 1984's Ghostbusters and 1989's Ghostbusters II, Ghostbusters: Afterlife bridges the gap between two generations and weaves in a fitting tribute to the late Harold Ramis. Striking a solid balance of nostalgic reflection for older audiences and whimsical adventure for younger viewers, the action comedy keeps the series close to its roots with Ivan Reitman producing and son Jason Reitman directing.

When Ghostbuster Egon Spengler (portrayed by Ramis in the '80s films) passes away in isolation, his estranged daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) inherits his dilapidated farm in the middle of Oklahoma. Faced with financial hardships, the single mother decides to move her family to the mysteriously remote locale, where her children Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) try to adjust to their new rural life.

With the help of a like-minded teacher (Paul Rudd) and an unexpected friend (Logan Kim), the academically gifted Phoebe uncovers the identity of her grandfather, as well as a supernatural threat that has bided its time for decades. As the ghostly danger emerges, Phoebe makes the call to the forgotten heroes best equipped to save the world, while carving out her own path and living up to the Spengler legacy.

In this exclusive interview, Mckenna Grace talks about the thrills of joining a franchise of which she has been a lifelong fan. From working with the Reitmans and the original cast to gearing up for a ride in Ecto-1, she shares her experience of diving into the Ghostbusters universe as both an actor and enthusiast. She also shines a light on her first official single "Haunted House" and previews her continued foray behind the scenes with a sequel to The Bad Seed, which will see her tackling responsibilities as a writer and producer.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is now available on digital, and comes to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD February 1. You've talked about being a Ghostbusters fan, even though the original films were released before you were born. At what age were you exposed to the franchise?

MCKENNA: It's funny, because I feel like people always think that Ghostbusters is just kind of an '80s thing, but it's been so cross-generational. Every Halloween, I see kids my age [and] younger dressed up as Ghostbusters for Halloween, which I think is so cool. I mean, they had it in Stranger Things...I think that it's been a big multi-generational thing. But I was introduced when I was like 3. I have, actually, a picture of me with the VHS the first night that I watched it.

What was your reaction when you not only learned that you would be in a new Ghostbusters movie, but that your role of Phoebe would have such a direct connection to the original characters?

[laughs] I didn't know what to say--I mean, I was crying when I received the script, I was crying when I booked it, and I was crying last night after I finished the screening. Even though it was my fifth time watching the movie, I still cry. I think that it's such a personal film to the Reitmans and the original Ghostbusters, and I'm just so glad that I was brought along for that journey, and that I was able to be a part of it.

What were your thoughts when you first strapped on a proton pack, and how would you describe the equipment?

It's really heavy. There [are] a lot of switches to mess around with, which was fun to fiddle with, and make the lights go off on it. But actually, the first time that I tried on the proton pack was in the chemistry read. And I was like, "Hey, even if I don't book this, that was so cool. I feel honored to have been in the room with Jason and Ivan Reitman, and to have tried on a proton pack." That was crazy.

And how did you feel about getting to ride in Ecto-1?

It was insane! You know, I feel like that's such a good question for Finn, because he got to drive it! I can only imagine how cool that must have been whenever they got to go and tear through the wheat field. Unfortunately, I wasn't there to watch it that day, but I wish I would have, because Ecto is such a fun car, it's such an iconic movie vehicle. It's kind of become a character in itself, so to be able to be in the gunner seat shooting a proton pack was a dream come true. Every time I see it, I get so giddy and excited.

What other aspects of the film were bucket list objectives for the fan in you?

"Be in a Ghostbusters movie"! [laughs] You know, there's just so much in there that's crazy, crazy stuff, especially as a Ghostbusters fan. So, I mean, everything: be in a Ghostbusters film, meet the originals, get to use all of the different packs and stuff. And going to the premiere was crazy. Getting to watch it is insane, and getting to see that I did all of that...I don't know, being a Ghostbusters fan makes it all even better.

Between Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the first episode of Just Beyond, and your return to the universe of The Conjuring with Malignant, it's clear you're a fan of the supernatural and paranormal. But at the same time, you've also done a fair amount of emotional, dramatic work. As an actress, do you take more pride in being able to scare audiences or make them cry?

Ooh! That's such an interesting question. I've never been asked anything like that before. I don't know. I think that just making my audience feel something in general is something that I really pride myself on. I think that that's one of the most special things about creating film or television, is that you get to make people feel something, and people bond over these things that you create. Like just last night at the premiere, there was a person there, [he] and his wife had met each other through bonding over Ghostbusters--they met each other at a screening of the original Ghostbusters, then they got married and had a Ghostbusters-themed wedding, and then they were at the Ghostbusters premiere last night! [laughs] And I just think that's so special that I'm able to bond people like that, and make people feel something in general, over my films. I can't decide on a certain emotion that I love people feeling the most, but it's just really cool to me that I make people feel anything at all.

How did your song "Haunted House" from the Ghostbusters soundtrack come about?

I wrote it not for the film, and I wrote it over the pandemic. And then I sent it to Jason to ask him if he would direct my music video, and he wanted to put it in the end credits. So in the end credits, there's two hidden scenes, and you have to sit through my song to watch one of the scenes, which I think is super cool. But yeah, my song "Haunted House" is my first single, it [comes] out with the movie.

Any updates on your project Rabbit Cake? I also understand you're a writer/producer for a sequel to The Bad Seed, so how have you enjoyed working on the script side of things?

I don't know if I have any updates on Rabbit Cake, we've just been working on getting a perfect draft of the script recently. But yeah, next week, actually, I think I'm going to Vancouver to start shooting The Bad Seed 2, which my dad and I co-wrote. And then they did a revision [on] the original script, because what my dad and I wrote was super dark, and they were like, "You know, guys, this is incredible, but it's a little bit too dark for Lifetime." [laughs] And so I'm really excited to start working on that. But yes, I am executive producing, starring, and I co-wrote the script, which I think is really cool. I'm really, really proud of that, and I cannot wait to start shooting.

Looking forward to your new roles. Thanks for your time today, it was great catching up!

Thank you so much, it was a pleasure! Have a good one!

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