Paul Feig/Twitter
November 02, 2015 05:10 PM

When Paul Feig set out to cast his Ghostbusters reboot, he knew exactly who he was gonna call first.

“I knew that Kristen [Wiig] and Melissa [McCarthy] were funny together. I always knew that,” the director tells PEOPLE.

Feig had directed Wiig and McCarthy in Bridesmaids in 2011, and had no doubt their chemistry would form the comedic nucleus for his all-female Ghostbusters project.

Kate McKinnon, whom Feig says he’d “been a fan of forever,” seemed like another natural fit to the group, and despite discovering her Saturday Night Live costar Leslie Jones “later in the game,” he knew she’d “be one of them” too.

“Once I see everybody I’m pretty good at figuring out who’s going to mix and match,” the director says, adding that he “wanted to pick four people with very different comedic energies.”

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After finishing his first round of edits on the film, Feig says he’s blown away by the chemistry among his leading ladies. “I wasn’t surprised that they jelled, but the way that they gelled was even more than I expected, and I expected a lot.

“It’s really exciting,” he adds. “I’m thrilled with how great they come off.”

Feig attributes some of that success to what he describes as the inherent comedic genius of the Ghostbusters premise. “The idea of funny people fighting the paranormal with technology, it’s brilliant,” he explains. “I always feel that funny people in danger is a great source of comedy, because emotions are high and they’re reacting in such fun, interesting ways.”

Filming the movie, the director adds that he “got a new appreciation for what Ivan [Reitman], Dan [Aykroyd], Harold [Ramis] and the gang did” with the original, to the point where “half the time during production I’d go, ‘Man, I wish I had thought of this.’ ”

Reporting by SCOTT HUVER

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