Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire: Dan Aykroyd Talks Spooky Experiences, Possession, And Owl Visits

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

by Tom Ellen |
Published on

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is about to unleash all kinds of ghouls on New York City once more – with two generations of ‘busters ready to battle them, no less. As well as continuing the adventures of the young Spenglers – and Paul Rudd’s Gary Grooberson – the original gang is back in the Firehouse. Empire caught up with them for our world-exclusive Frozen Empire issue, getting the inside scoop on the film, the characters’ much-anticipated returns – and all other kinds of spooky business. Read Empire’s conversation with Dan Aykroyd here – discussing possessed objects, ghostly encounters, and a spiritual visit from an owl.

Originally published in the March 2024 issue of Empire.


EMPIRE: Your family’s fascination with ghosts dates back to your great-grandfather, a spiritualist who held séances. Have you had any otherworldly encounters recently?

Dan Aykroyd: Nothing happened this summer at the old farmhouse where the séances used to take place. That farmhouse was where I originated the idea for Ghostbusters, reading my father’s American Psychical Research journals. Many years ago, a friend and I went upstairs there and saw three S-shaped spirits following one another across the landing. Energies of once-living humans, come back to intrude! We ran right out of there. [Laughs]

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

The ‘Death Chill’ in Frozen Empire originates from a haunted object. Do you believe objects really can be ‘possessed’?

Yes, some objects can carry spirits. Michael Jackson spoke of a cabinet he bought in Germany that was possessed. There was stuff going on in there. He had to get rid of it.

Have you experienced possessed objects?

Well, a while back, at our old house, I was falling asleep one night and suddenly I heard a clinking sound and saw [my wife] Donna’s bracelet and earrings doing a dust-devil whirlwind dance on the bedside table. But that wasn’t necessarily a spirit manipulating them; it was probably due to my own residual psychokinetic energy. [The actor] Beverly D’Angelo lives in that house now, and she says there’s still stuff going on in there.

That’s a case of absolute and complete transmogrification!

I read that you once sensed a ghost getting into bed with you.

I just tried to keep sleeping. What else could I do?

Run out of bed, screaming?

Yeah. But there was no place to run to. And I was tired. I’d been shooting that day.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Have you ever met the ghost of a friend?

I can tell you one story. I had a writing partner, Tom Davis, who I wrote Coneheads with. My daughter used to keep owls, and whenever Davis came to our house, he’d see how well my daughter treated them and say, “When I die, I’m coming back as Belle Aykroyd’s owl!” Anyway, [in 2012] he passed away at his house in New York, which was surrounded by black walnut trees. This was in July, just before his birthday on August 13th. A month later, I go into my office. When I cross the porch, there’s nothing there, but when I come out 45 seconds later, I hear a fluttering noise. Trapped in the screen door... is an owl. And behind it, on the porch... a circle of black walnuts. Now, there’s not a black walnut tree within 50 miles of my house! Suddenly I hear Davis’ voice in my head: “Aykroyd! With all your psychic shit, you’d better realise I’ve come back as an owl to see you! And to further prove it, I’ve brought these walnuts!” That’s when I realised the date: August 13th. Davis’ birthday. Now you may call that coincidence, but that owl and those nuts weren’t there when I crossed the threshold. Seconds later, they were. That’s a case of absolute and complete transmogrification!

What happened to the owl?

We had him three days, then one afternoon he flipped his tethers and took off. But I still have the walnuts.

Empire – March 2024 issue – Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire – Cover 1

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire comes to UK cinemas on Friday 22 March

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