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Ernie Hudson is always surprised when people recognize him on the street. Although the icon has appeared in several classic films and TV shows over his decades-long career, he does not see himself as a celebrity, just, as he puts it, “a working actor.”
Still, the 75-year-old Hudson always gets a kick out of fans saying hello and mentioning their favorite project among his slew of big and small screen works. And, naturally, for about 30 years, Hudson has gotten one question more than any other: When is there going to be another Ghostbusters? Well, fans got their answer as the highly-anticipated Ghostbusters: Afterlife opened over the weekend.
The Sony franchise chapter — directed by Jason Reitman and produced by his father, Ivan Reitman — bridges the gap between generations of Ghostbusters. For Hudson, the film was a coming home of sorts that he was sure would never happen. But he is thrilled it did.
How was revisiting Winston Zeddemore and putting on the proton pack one more time in Ghostbusters: Afterlife?
When Bill [Murray] and Danny [Aykroyd] and I put on our jumpsuits and our proton packs, it transported me back. It was cool — just how much I love that family. It was almost spiritual. I didn’t cry, but some of those emotions welled up in me. To see Jason who was running around the set at 6 years old and now he is at the helm of it; I was so proud of him. I am so appreciative that he established himself as a wonderful director-producer before stepping into Ghostbusters.
I had heard, although he never told me this, that Bill [in prior years] did not want to do another one. So I wrapped it up as this will never happen. Although we did [Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009)], and that was kind of cool. But we were never in the same room for that. I had accepted that [a film] was never going to happen.
Ghostbusters altered my life in a weird way. When you make a movie and it is successful, that has an impact, but Ghostbusters — it was a shift. And the way people responded to it and continue to respond to it — it crosses generations. I see little kids who just love the movie.
Switching gears, how much fun is playing the villainous L.C. Duncan on BET’s The Family Business, which you executive produce?
After Ghostbusters and other projects, I am thought of as a nice guy. So to do L.C. Dunkin — here’s a guy who is complex. And it challenges me in a way because I don’t like looking at people be bad. I am a dad. I have four sons. And I know with my kids there are certain things that I would never do. And L.C. does it. So it is a bit of a stretch. The writers will come up with something and I have to realize that this is who the character is, it is not who I want the character to be. And that can sometimes be a challenge. So it’s been fun because the hardest part of acting for me is finding that true part of yourself that makes the character. I want a character who I am a little nervous about doing. And that is what L.C. does.
Speaking of your classic TV characters, can Grace and Frankie fans anticipate the return of Jacob in the upcoming final season of the Netflix series?
I think that was the plan. I talked to the producers and they were going to resolve that relationship with me and Frankie. And then the pandemic hit and everybody shut down. So I am not sure what is happening. I haven’t gotten a call from them. I loved doing that show. I work with a lot of people, but there aren’t many people who go, “Wow, I am a fan,” like with Jane [Fonda] and Lily [Tomlin]. To get a chance to play with them, to play that guy, it was cool.
Winston Zeddemore is my favorite of all your film characters, but Capt. Monroe Kelly in Congo is a close second. How was that experience for you?
Back in the day, not so much anymore, you had to look a certain way. I needed a look. And I never thought I was that good-looking kind of guy. I never saw myself that way. So when I did Congo, I got to play the cool guy. And I don’t get the chance to be the cool guy a lot. I loved it. In the book, the guy has a British accent. But I think [director] Frank Marshall was a little nervous as Tim [Curry] was already doing his Romanian accent — but he gave in. I had a lot of fun with that character. A lot of time I will do a project, and when I see it I will think about what I could have done differently. But this was a character I had fun doing and I had fun watching. I was so thankful to get the chance to play that guy.
And finally, a deep cut, as the kids say: Which was wilder, appearing on an episode of The Incredible Hulk or in a very creepy Tales From the Crypt?
Tales from the Crypt — that was weird. That was an instance where I wanted a certain thing and the director has a whole other thing in mind. I am from the theater so you try to make it work. I got the script and the character was this fat guy who just eats, he just consumes. So when they cast me, it changed a little bit. It was fun. It was challenging — and it was bizarre.
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