On Thursday July 7th, we had the opportunity to speak with the acclaimed actor Ernie Hudson.
Though Hudson’s career has seen him take on many rich roles across the mediums of film, TV, and theater, he is perhaps best known for his performance as Winston Zeddemore in the original Ghostbusters films. We spoke a little about his involvement in that franchise, it’s lasting legacy amongst fans, and his experience appearing in the newest installment directed by Paul Feig and starring Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig,
So I wanted to start off by asking, given the diverse career you’ve had across different mediums since the original Ghostbusters films, how did it feel to return to the franchise all these years later? Did you notice any ways you’ve changed as an actor since then?
I think over the thirty years it took to get another film done or twenty-five years, I’ve changed as a person. We grow and things we hold to be true don’t seem to be true after a few years. So it was great to come back to it, great to see that the fans have supported it and wanted to see another film. And it was interesting seeing that incarnation, that I’m told is an alternate universe with all lady Ghostbusters, but it was fun. It was fun being on set. I’m in a different stage of my life so it was nice to see.
Going off what you mentioned about being on-set, because Ivan Reitman and Paul Feig are both so well known as tremendous comedy directors, during your time on-set you on this new film did you feel there were ways in directing styles they were similar or ways they might have differed?
I wasn’t there a lot so it’s kind of hard. Ivan had a real collaborating way of working with people, especially guys like Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd who come from that whole improv world. It was a little bit of a different approach. I think Paul Feig seemed to be good one-on-one with the cast, but I was only on-set a good half-day or day and I felt like it was a Paul Feig film. I thought it was important for him to put his stamp on it and not try to redo what someone else had done. So the movie, whatever it is, it will be Paul’s film.
Looking at the original film, one of the most iconic elements is its New York setting and I’m curious to hear how you felt that New York spirit might’ve been present in the original films and if it carries over into this new film?
The first two films are definitely New York films, not just in terms of the shooting. I think Sigourney Weaver’s character seems like someone who would only exist in New York. Something about the vibe. It was a New York movie. The [new] movie, I think it holds true. I know they didn’t shoot just in New York. All the exteriors of our two movies were in New York and then they shot the interiors in LA. This one I think is different, but it’s still metropolitan. They hold to it.
Sticking to the original films being so iconic, being a part of this franchise for a little over thirty years, I’d be interested to hear what your experiences have been like in terms of fan interactions and what its been like to be a part of this very famous franchise?
I’m an actor, I’ve been acting for fifty years if you add up all the theater, and television, and film. I’ve done a lot of projects. A lot I’ve felt good about and nobody noticed. They all kind of came and went. Some I felt deserved more than that. And other films I thought were awful that people connected to. So it’s all out of my hands and it’s hard to be objective, but it’s nice to have a film that touches an audience in a very, very special way. Not just it’s a good movie and we see it and move on, but something they’ve brought into their lives and it’s impacted their families, their ways of life. That’s pretty powerful and there aren’t a lot of movies that have been able to do that, so I’m very proud of the movie. I did a stage show a few years back and of the seven actors, three of us had movies, but I was the only one who’d had a major film released. That’s kind of special. But to have a film like a Ghostbusters in your filmography or that you can just mention anywhere in the world and people will respond to, that’s kind of cool.
The ensemble for the original films is famous for including so many talented individuals, yourself included, what was it like playing off your fellow original cast members from an actor’s perspective and being on-set?
The guys were great. They were already established, they were big stars, and actors when they are secure in their work are very giving and very welcoming. I could’ve walked into a set, and have walked into sets, where people weren’t so kind, but it felt great. Some of the frustration I had came I think from the studio, the character being included or not included. But on the set and working with the guys was pretty amazing and I loved them all and I’ll always feel very close to them because they were really cool and they didn’t have to be. Sigourney Weaver I saw recently and I just love Sigourney. I like people who are consistent, who are kind when they don’t have to be, and over the years they stayed the same, and Sigourney is amazing, but Bill Murray as well, and Danny [Aykroyd]. Harold [Ramis] was just a real go-to-guy when there was anything going on that was not cool, he was always someone you could go to and he could get it resolved. They were very kind to me and I had a great time. I don’t think I learned a whole lot in terms of acting, but I certainly learned a lot in terms of relating to people and how you deal with things and still get the work done.
Given your time in this franchise and your involvement in this new film, did you give any advice to the new cast about what they might be in store for, or if you didn’t is there anything you’d offer them now as the film’s about to premiere?
I find its best not to answer any questions that haven’t been asked. These girls have been in the business a while… I would’ve been happy to support them in any way I could, but I don’t think they needed my ideas on how to navigate this stuff. They’re in for an interesting ride if the movie is half as successful as the first one, but I think they’re more than prepared to handle it.
The new Ghostbusters film will open in theaters nationwide July 15th.