A while back, I came across some old footage from the set of Ghostbusters 2, a movie that is one of my favorite movies of all time. (And a movie that I will defend to the death.) The scene they were working on didn't feature any of the famous actors, it was all about Slimer, the focused, non-terminal repeating phantasm who also served as an unofficial tribute to the late John Belushi. Inside of Slimer was a young woman named Robin Shelby, who brought the Class 5 full roaming vapor to life. That footage has since been taken down, but I got to have a chat with Shelby about her work on Ghostbusters 2 as well as what she's up to now.
So, you puppeteered Slimer in Ghostbusters 2. How far into your career were you when you snagged that job? I had worked on the film Willow prior to getting cast in GB2. I was the troll that was at the top of a bridge with Willow and gets torn in two by a very nasty looking two-headed creature. I also was doing tons of theatre in the San Francisco Bay Area, and singing at Kings Great America when I shot Ghostbusters 2.
Did you have any contact with the first puppeteer, Mark Bryan Wilson? I just met Mark for the first time a few months ago. He’s such a great guy, and can’t believe it took so many years to get the two “Slimers” together.
What was the best day on that set like? The best days for me were the days I left feeling like I had accomplished everything they needed me to do, and seeing they were happy. Oh, and the day Bill Murray showed up on set at [Industrial Light & Magic]. I was a bit starstruck, but he was nothing short of amazing and fun. He basically had turned the soundstage into one big party and everyone enjoyed music, drinks, and some really bad dancing.
And, since there are always good days and bad days at work, what was the worst day on set like? There was a day we were in the middle of shooting something, and I knew I wanted to hang in there to get it done. So we went a bit longer than usual without taking some of the costume off and take a break. At one point, they were trying to talk to me inside the costume, and I wasn’t responding back to them. They got me out pretty quick before I had totally passed out.
What's been happening since Ghostbusters 2, and how often do you hear from members of the cast? The funny part about shooting in front of a blue screen is I didn’t have to actually meet any of the cast members. I shot everything alone in front of a blue screen, and my footage was added to the scenes already shot. I just got lucky, and got to meet Bill while I was shooting. I met Ernie for the first time last year at an art exhibit where some Ghostbusters art was being displayed. Then in November of last year Ernie, William Atherton [Walter Peck], Slavitza Jovan [Gozer] and I did the HorrorHound convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. We all exchanged information there and keep in touch. I am truly in awe of the talents of each one of them.
How often do you attend conventions? I just started doing conventions last year, and going to my third one in a couple of weeks. [Space City Con in Houston, Texas] It’s still kind of new to me, but the GB fans couldn’t be more gracious and wonderful to me. They are so supportive, and I appreciate them so much.
What are you up to now? Where can we see you do your thing? In addition to the web series, there are a few new projects I have shot recently. A film called Democracy At Work and a short film called Meet the Zillas. Both very funny, smart projects I am lucky to be a part of. You can always check out IMDB to keep up with any new projects.
What is the premise of your web series "Far From the Tree," and what inspired you to make it? The premise of our web series is about a dysfunctional Mom, her daughter and the world around them. It truly isn’t my family, but kind of SUPER exaggerated elements from different people and family members I know. What inspired me was simply keeping creative. I had the idea for the premise of the show, and my husband (who is a brilliant actor and writer) took the idea and started writing some individual scripts after I came up with a basic treatment for the series. It’s been a true team effort.
How long has it been running, and how long do you think you'll make it? We have 15 episodes. We will keep making them as long as we have ideas, and we feel it makes us laugh. When that stops, we’ll probably figure out an idea for a new project that we can work on that will hopefully also make us laugh.
And the obvious question on everyone's minds: Do you think Ghostbusters 3 will ever happen? I have stopped trying to speculate. BUT... I can say should it ever come together and everyone says “It’s a go!”... I hope in some way, I’m able to be involved. Whether it may be motion capture and I’m involved that way with the character of Slimer if he’s in the script, or a cameo in the film... it would be an honor to be a part of GB3 if it should happen to come together.
Thanks for your time, Robin! To watch her web series, "Far From the Tree," head over to YouTube for every episode, plus the three that are coming up soon. As our parting shot, I leave you with a shot of Robin Shelby in costume -- Slimer with rad pink high-tops:
When she isn't nerding out that the holidays are coming, Jamie is a reader at Monday Night Fan Fiction at Fontana's in Chinatown, NYC (next date: TBA, 7:00 PM). All work is original, written by the readers, so if you have a brilliant fanfic idea stuck in your head, send it via Twitter: @jamielikesthis