How Tony Goldwyn Convinced “Ghost” Costar Whoopi Goldberg to Join His New Film 34 Years After Their Hit (Exclusive)

Tony Goldwyn directs and stars in 'Ezra,' which also features Robert De Niro, Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne

<p>Victoria Will; Dia Dipasupil/Getty</p> Tony Goldwyn and Whoopi Goldberg

Victoria Will; Dia Dipasupil/Getty

Tony Goldwyn and Whoopi Goldberg

For Tony Goldwyn, getting his friend and former Ghost costar Whoopi Goldberg to star in his new movie Ezra was as easy as sending an email.

That is, in fact, all he had to do.

Goldwyn, 64, tells PEOPLE that Goldberg, 68, jumped at the chance to be a part of the new comedic drama about a high-strung comedian Max (Bobby Cannavale) who kidnaps his son Ezra (William A. Fitzgerald) from his estranged wife Jenna (Rose Byrne) and takes him on a cross-country road trip so he can do a stand-up set on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Goldberg has a supporting role as Jayne, Max’s comedy manager, in the film written by Goldwyn’s longtime friend Tony Spiridakis.

“Tony and I were talking like, ‘Who would be great for the comedy manager?’ And when we talked about Whoopi, I said, ‘Well, if we can get Whoopi. Let me write her and see if she's even around,’ because she would be a complete home run to have — one of the goddesses of American comedy,” says Goldwyn.

Related: Whoopi Goldberg on How Patrick Swayze Convinced Her to Make Ghost: ‘He Was Sexy and Sweet’

<p>Sherly Rabbani/Shutterstock</p> Whoopi Goldberg and Tony Goldwyn on April 3

Sherly Rabbani/Shutterstock

Whoopi Goldberg and Tony Goldwyn on April 3

“So I just emailed Whoopi, who I'm very friendly with and I've had a long history with. I emailed her. I said, ‘I’m doing this project with Bobby and Bob De Niro and we had this part and I don't know if you're available,’ ” he continues.

“She just wrote back, going, ‘I'm in.’ I said, ‘Do you want to read the script?’ She said, ‘No, I'm in.’ I sent her the script, of course, but she said yes before. She just says, ‘That sounds so fun.’ And that's Whoopi,” says Goldwyn.

Related: Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne Star in Heartwarming Ezra Trailer from Director Tony Goldwyn

The pair first shared the screen in the 1990 romantic drama Ghost about murdered banker Sam (Patrick Swayze), whose spirit tries to warn his girlfriend Molly (Demi Moore) that their friend Carl (Goldwyn) was the one responsible for his death.

Goldberg won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Oda Mae Brown, a psychic who helps Sam communicate with Molly.

<p>Cinematic / Alamy Stock Photo</p> 'Ghost' stars Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Goldwyn, Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in 1990

Cinematic / Alamy Stock Photo

'Ghost' stars Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Goldwyn, Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in 1990

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Ghost was Goldwyn’s breakout role, which he landed thanks to his wife, Jane Musky, 70, who was a production designer on the movie. She told him the role of Carl had yet to be cast and encouraged him to go after it.

More than three decades later, Goldwyn says Musky still ribs him about helping him

“She teases me a little bit about it, but there were so many instances of her being the factor in my life that made me successful,” he says. “That's just one of many.”

Ezra is in theaters May 31.

For more on Tony Goldwyn, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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