Ernie Hudson, who played Winston Zeddemore in the 1984 film Ghostbusters and its 1989 sequel, has opened up about his experience filming the cult classic and his place within the franchise. “It wasn’t an easy road,” he explained during an interview on The Howard Stern Wrap-Up Show. Although the film may be easily digested by audiences everywhere, it was a harder pill to swallow for Hudson. Taking a decade for him to embrace, he explained the “psychological” effect that being in the franchise had on him.
The biggest role of his career didn’t mean much to him at the time
In the interview, Hudson was asked if Ghostbusters meant a lot to him since it was “the biggest role” of his life. To this, he said “No.” Instead, he explained that he “was the guy who was brought in” to star alongside the three already well-established actors, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis. “So finding my place in the middle of that — and they were all welcoming and inclusive, the studio wasn’t. And the studio continued not to be,” he said.
“So it made it very, very difficult because I was a part of it but then I very selectively was pushed aside, he continued. “When the posters came out, I’m not on the poster. It took a long time. I went to the 30th anniversary release of the movie and all the posters are three guys. Now I know the fans see it differently, and I’m so thankful for the fans because the fans basically identified with Winston, especially young, I don’t want to say minority kids, but a lot of kids.” For more reasons than one, Hudson felt marginalized within the Ghostbusters franchise.
Ghostbusters actually slowed his career
As Hudson explained, when an actor lands a role in a major studio’s blockbuster film, “it will change [their] career.” Unfortunately, this was not the case for Hudson. In fact,when he played Winston it did quite the opposite. “Well, Ghostbusters didn’t do any of that for me,” he said. “I was working pretty nonstop, I did Ghostbusters, and it was two and a half years before I got another movie.”
When Hudson received the first script, Winston’s character was introduced from the very beginning. However, as we all know from having seen the movie, that’s no longer the case. “By the time we got ready to shoot the movie, Winston came in halfway through the movie. All those things… it definitely felt deliberate. And I’m still not trying to take it personally,” he said.
“Ghostbusters I would say, it was probably the most difficult movie I ever did just from the psychological perspective.” However, he tries to avoid looking at the situation from a specific perspective. “Anything bad, if you’re African American in this country, anything bad happens to you, you can always blame it on ‘because I’m Black.’ … You don’t want to go there,” he explained.
He still has love and respect for the people he worked with
Despite the struggles he’s had with the Ghostbusters franchise, Hudson still thinks fondly of the people he worked with. He even called the film’s director Ivan Reitman “a brilliant man,” one with whom “I have just too much love and appreciation for.”
Hudson had explained that years previously, he never knew who wrote his character out of a large portion of the film. However, he doesn’t blame Ramis or Aykroyd, who co-wrote the script. “You know, nobody tells you [who was responsible]. I blame the studio because in my mind it’s easier for me to say ‘some exec’ rather than the guy sitting next to me. I don’t think it came from the guys; the guys are great, but what do I know?”
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At the end of the day, though, Hudson has “got nothing bad to say about anybody, but it was hard. And it was hard for a long time. It took me probably… 10 years to finally get sort of past that and just embrace the movie and enjoy the movie. It was very. ‘Ghostbusters’ was really hard to make peace with.”