Leslie Jones is a comedic powerhouse known for her incredible wit and ability to take no mess from anybody, but everybody has their limits.
The 56-year-old comedian and actor was a household name in the Black community for years before she made her Saturday Night Live debut, but the sketch comedy show put her on everybody's map.
Following her turn as a writer and cast member of the weekend series, Leslie's opportunities grew, leading to roles in major films like Coming 2 America and the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot with an all-female cast.
In a Rolling Stone excerpt from her new book Leslie F*cking Jones: A Memoir, the legendary comic opened up about how her role in Paul Feig's Ghostbusters led to a real-life nightmare.
During a Ghostbusters press junket, Leslie described how the narrative of hatred toward the film began with the media's perception. "I don't like this movie," one journalist said. "And you've got five minutes to prove to me that it is worth watching."
Leslie then went on to describe that she became the subject of "intense online abuse" before the film even hit movie theaters, stating that it was "no surprise that [she] was the one who got most of the hate" because she was a Black woman. "For some men, this was the final straw," she wrote.
In the book, she described, "Of all the women in Paul's remake of the movie, I was the one who got taken through the ringer. I wonder why... Oh, right, because I was a Black girl."
"I was being sent films of being hanged, of white guys jacking off on my picture, saying, 'You fucking n****r. We going to kill you.' Why are people being so evil to each other? How can you sit and type 'I want to kill you.' Who does that?"
The online hate Leslie received was so intense that it led her to quit Twitter. She posted, "I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart. All this 'cause I did a movie. You can hate the movie but the shit I got today...wrong." Unfortunately, the hate didn't stop.
Leslie continued that people began to focus on the fact she left Twitter instead of the reason she left Twitter: racism, misogyny, and hate. "I remember crying and thinking, this is the first time I had ever seen it so bad. How do y'all all get together to bully a person? It wasn't as if I'd committed a crime or something — I was being bullied over a movie, over playing a part in a movie."
"The weakness of muthafuckas amazes me. I cried not because I was being bullied, but because this is our world and because I can't believe anyone would do this shit to someone, anyone, for working. This is awful. I am in a movie. Death threats for something as small as that? The world was not as rosy as I'd hoped it was. But none of that shit was about me."
Beyond the racism and misogyny, Leslie recalled another moment that highlighted "classism." The director of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Jason Reitman, the son of the original director Ivan Reitman, made a statement on Bill Burr's podcast that Leslie felt validated with the hatred she received. "We are, in every way, trying to go back to the original technique and hand the movie back to the fans."
Leslie noted, although he clarified, the damage was done. This led her to respond on Twitter, "So insulting. Like, fuck us. We dint count. It's like something trump would do. (Trump voice) 'Gonna redo ghostbusteeeeers, better with men, will be huge. Those women ain't ghostbusteeeeers' ugh so annoying. Such a dick move. And I don't give a fuck I'm saying something!!"
The hatred Leslie and the all-female cast received highlights an all too familiar online behavior of many so-called franchise fans. Star Wars, Disney live-action remakes, and superhero films are just a few genres where actors of color or non-white male actors receive unwarranted online hate.
"But maybe something good came out of all this after all — by the end of that shoot, I knew so much more than I did when I started," Leslie wrote. "By the end I was thinking, 'This shit won't ever happen again. I know that I'm not a big star yet, but after this muthafucka, after figuring this out, I'm about to release the Kraken.'"