Friday, September 16, 2016

Interview: Jennifer Runyon (Venkman's test subject in "Ghostbusters")

What were you doing professionally prior to Ghostbusters?

I was working as an actress. I had done a horror movie, To All a Goodnight [1980], and worked a few years on Another World, a soap in New York, playing Sally Frame. I had just finished Up the Creek [1984 film] and the Charles in Charge pilot prior to Ghostbusters.

How old were you when you were cast in the movie?


How did you get the role?

I auditioned for it and was put on tape. I went back in and met with Ivan and the producers. I just played it straight. I guess they liked it.

Any funny anecdotes about your
Ghostbusters experience?

Steven Tash and I were in New York for weeks waiting to film. We were [under] the cover set in case it rained [NOTE: a cover set is just as it sounds, a cover over a set in case of bad weather]…it didn't rain. LOL. I remember production inviting us to come watch the street scenes where the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man comes. It was crazy—until I saw the scene on film, I had no idea what the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man was going to look like…

While working on it, did it seem like just another script to you, or did it feel like something special?

I really thought the script was fun, but I had no idea how big this movie was going to be. I loved this part. I really wanted it...I wanted to work with Bill Murray.

What was your impression of Bill Murray?

I adore Bill Murray. He was so fun to work with. He took me to dinner once, as friends, after the movie came out. We ended up driving an Amtrak train at Union Station in L.A. Bill asked the conductor if we could drive it…only Bill Murray could make that happen.

How far did you drive the train?

A few feet. LOL.

Impression of Dan Aykroyd?

I remember Dan being very kind and very funny.

Do you remember what you earned?

I have no idea. That was a long time ago…

How often were you recognized on the street? Any funny stories about that?

I still get recognized from's pretty sweet.

Did you attend the premiere?

I didn't attend the premiere, but was at the wrap party, which was really fun.

Did your opinion of the movie change after it opened?

My opinion of the movie changed greatly after seeing it. I had no idea it would be as good as it was. It was so good I had to see it several times.

Have you been interviewed before about this specifically, and if so, do you have those clippings (particularly from back then)?

I have done several interviews about
Ghostbusters, but they have all been in the last five years. I have no clippings from back then.

Do you have any photos from the set, wrap party, etc.?

I have a Polaroid of Bill and myself on set. I need to look for that. [she did, couldn't find it]

What was your favorite acting gig?

I have a lot of favorites,
Ghostbusters being definitely at the top. I would love to find a little movie I did with Karen Black, Jack Kehoe, and Dennis Christopher called Flight of the Spruce Goose [1986]. That would be amazing. I also love a character I played in a little movie called A Man Called Sarge—FiFi LaRue was so much fun.

What are you doing these days?

I am busier today than I ever thought I'd be. I work with teenagers in a program called Tilly's Life Center (TLC). Our program gives teens the tools to get through those confusing years and helps to build positive, happy lives.

Any interest in acting again?

I did a little low-budget movie (Silent Night, Bloody Night 2: Revival) in Nebraska a couple of years ago. I had a great time. I'm doing one this December. I love acting, and if I can keep my toe in the water I would love it.

Where do you live?

Southern California, near Dana Point.

If you have children, how many and ages?

I am the proud mom of Wyatt, 23, and Bayley, 20. They are the best thing I've ever done.

Are you still in touch with anyone from the cast?

I'm in touch with Steven Tash. We lost contact for many years but we are reunited. I will be doing a convention with Steven in October in Bangor, Maine called Bangorefest.

I'm good friends with Robin Shelby (Slimer in Ghostbusters 2). A few months back I saw her for dinner with her husband Sean Spence. I was with Annie Potts for two days at a convention.

I did two documentaries about Ghostbusters. The first one is called Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters, by brother and sister producing team Claire and Anthony Bueno out of the U.K. I'm not sure when the release of that is. The other is Ghostheads—very fun documentary about diehard fans who are actual Ghostbusters. These franchises are all over the world and they do amazing work with charities visiting sick kids in hospitals. They are awesome.

When was the last time you watched the movie?

I don't remember the last time I saw it all the way through, but if I'm surfing channels and it's on, I have to stop and watch no matter where it is in the movie. When my kids were young [but] old enough to watch, I think the funniest experience was them watching for the first time when my scene came on and one of their little friends says "Hey, she looks like your mom!" My kids didn't have any idea I was in the movie. They kept looking back and forth from me to the screen. So cute.

Did you see the 2016

I'm sure I will see the new movie at some point. I haven't yet [as of mid-August 2016].

Do you have any mementos from the shoot, such as the script or anything from the set?

I think I have a few; I believe I have my script and my earrings from the shoot.

How do you look back on your
Ghostbusters experience?

I look back with awe. I am so proud to be a small part of this classic. It's amazing the amount of love and respect that is shown in so many ways all over the world, as strong today as the day this movie premiered.

Anything you'd like to add?

I would like to thank all the fans. I'm always so humbled by your kindness and love. I have the best fans.

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