Ghostbusters Actor’s Presence of Mind Saved Him From a Serious On-Set Injury on Bill Murray’s 1984 Film

William Atherton would not risk his life for one scene in Ghostbusters.

Ghostbusters Actor’s Presence of Mind Saved Him From a Serious On-Set Injury on Bill Murray’s 1984 Film


  • William Atherton avoided an injury on the set of Ghostbusters by asking if they could do a test first.
  • A hundred-pound of cream was to be dropped, so they had a stuntman to try it out first and he fell flat.
  • The cream used on the set caused allergic reactions to some of the cast members.
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William Atherton played the secondary antagonist in Ghostbusters, a self-righteous inspector for the Environmental Protection Agency who despised the team for their practices. Indeed, he was very determined to bring down the Ghostbusters at all costs.

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Interestingly, the actor found it difficult to escape from his movie persona after the film’s release. Still, he never loathed the franchise; he even lent his voice to the 2009 Ghostbusters video game that was loved by many fans.


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William Atherton Was Hesitant To Do One Scene In Ghostbusters

In a DVD commentary on the 1984 Ghostbusters film, actor William Atherton revealed he almost suffered from a very serious injury on the set if it was not for his gut instinct. He saw this giant bag of cream that was meant to be dropped, but he was very suspicious of its weight. He stated (via Ghostbusters Wiki):


And I saw this great big bag of whipped cream. And I went, ‘Okay’ thinking, you know, it’s a big bag of whipped cream. And I went up, and I asked one of the ADs. I said, ‘You know, how much does that weigh?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, it’s about a hundred pounds.’ And I said, ‘It’s a hundred pounds of whipped cream?’ ‘Yeah, but it’s whipped cream.’

william atherton in ghostbusters
William Atherton in Ghostbusters

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Immediately, Atherton remembered what he learned from his science class back in school and asked if they could test how heavy it really was just to be safe. He continued:


And I said, ‘You know, the only test I passed in junior high was you have a hundred pounds of feathers and you have a hundred pounds of sand. What weighs more? They weigh the same.’ So I said, ‘Would it be too much to ask if somebody could kind of stand under here? Or could we test this to see how heavy it really is?’ And so everybody went, ‘Oh, man, okay. All right. Yeah, the actor is unsure about it. Can we have a stunt guy stand in?’

As he expected, the bag was quite heavy even for a trained stuntman. The poor guy immediately got knocked down, and so Atherton suggested they reduce a few pounds. He further concluded:

So the stunt guy’s in, and they zipped it out. It came down and knocked the guy flat. Just knocked him. And I went, ‘You know, well, maybe… maybe 75 pounds.’

Atherton’s instinct saved him from an injury that could have ruined his health and even his career.


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The Cast Got Allergic Reactions From The Cream Used On The Set


In an interview with Esquire, William Atherton shared the same story about the hundred-pound bag of cream, and his co-star Ernie Hudson said it gave them severe allergic reactions. The actor shared:


After about eight or nine hours, that stuff started to really irritate the skin. A couple of us got rashes and little bumps. Very, very abrasive.”

Atherton admitted he was not very enthusiastic about shooting that particular scene. Still, Ghostbusters was a successful movie that became an all-time favorite for many viewers.

RELATED: “Exactly what I thought first”: Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Gets Compared to Jake Gyllenhaal’s Climate Change Disaster Movie as Paul Rudd Returns for Sequel



Written by Ariane Cruz

Ariane Cruz, Senior Writer. She has been contributing articles for FandomWire since 2021, mostly covering stories about geek pop culture. With a degree in Communication Arts, she has an in-depth knowledge of print and broadcast journalism. Her other works can also be seen on Screen Rant and CBR.