Paul Feig Explains Why Jennifer Lawrence Couldn't Join 'Ghostbusters'

Jennifer Lawrence gave the internet something to speculate about in late 2014 when she admitted to MTV UK that she’d had dinner with director Paul Feig, immediately placing her in the running for one of the four lead roles in his Ghostbusters reboot. (Even more surprising was her confession that she hadn’t known about the existence of Ghostbusters II.)

The casting didn’t pan out, obviously — Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones are playing the new fab four. Feig explained why when we talked to him recently at a Ghostbusters event on the Sony lot in Los Angeles.

He said the pair dined as a “general kind of meet and greet,” and it’s there he floated the idea. “I told her, ‘Hey I’m doing this thing. And she’s like, 'Oh my god, I love Ghostbusters!’”

But his pursuit didn’t last long, as it quickly became apparent that Lawrence’s shooting schedule last summer on the superhero sequel X-Men: Apocalypse — in which she reprises her role as the mutant Mystique — wouldn’t allow her to join the Ghostbusters gang.

“I’m desperate to work with her, but I didn’t even entertain it very long because I just knew the schedules didn’t sync up at all,” Feig said. “We had such a very definitive window to shoot it in.”

Lawrence was one of a handful of high-profile actresses considered or approached for roles in the reboot. Among the other names: Emma Stone (who said she turned down the role because she wasn’t ready for another franchise so soon after Amazing Spider-Man), Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, and Anna Faris.

Ultimately Feig would cast his Bridesmaids alums Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig along with current Saturday Night Live players Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones — a quartet that promises big laughs when Sony’s action-comedy hits theaters this summer.

As for Feig’s designs on working with Lawrence one day: Considering he’s become the industry’s most successful filmmaker behind female-driven comedies (see also The Heat and Spy), maybe he can direct that script J-Law wrote with Amy Schumer (er, A-Schu).

Ghosbusters opens July 15. Watch the first trailer: