Ernie Hudson Celebrates the 30th Anniversary Of Ghostbusters!
by London Christopher
Copyright © 2014 London Christopher/PopEntertainment.com. All Rights Reserved. Posted: September 3, 2014.
Hudson fondly reflects on Ghostbusters 1 and 2, what’s new with the much-anticipated Ghostbusters 3, and the 20th anniversary of The Crow.
This year marks the 30th Anniversary of Ghostbusters. In honor of this momentous occasion, the hilarious 1984 motion picture mash-up of comedy, supernatural horror, and science fiction has been given a one week, limited theatrical re-release. This will be starting on August 29, 2014 in some 700 theaters nationwide. On September 16, Columbia / Sony Pictures is releasing a special anniversary edition of Ghostbusters on Blu-Ray. Also on Septembers 16, Ghostbusters II will be released for the very first time on Blu-Ray in honor of its 25th Anniversary.
It’s been three decades since the fabulous foursome of parapsychologist dispatchers of evil spirits first made their debut on the silver screen. Bill Murray’s Dr. Peter Venkman, Dan Aykroyd’s Dr. Raymond Stantz, the late, great Harold Ramis’ Dr. Egon Spengler, and Ernie Hudson’s Winston Zeddemore are still making people laugh via their droll, witty repartee as they take on all manners of ghosts, goblins, and a giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man bent on Armageddon.
Deftly directed in rare form by Ivan Reitman, Ghostbusters featured a hilarious and clever, tack-sharp script penned by Ramis and Aykroyd. Ghostbusters went on to become a blockbuster summer hit and a beloved pop culture phenomenon of cinema and the 1980’s. The film spawned a hit theme song by Ray Parker, Jr., whose video featured a who’s who of celebrity cameos. Ghostbusters also spawned the 1989 sequel film, a video game, and a hit children’s animated television series.
Talk of a Ghostbusters 3 film has been bandied about for years, with the original cast members all weighing in with their thoughts and support, but to date, nothing concrete has been set. The sad passing of Harold Ramis this past February, followed by Ivan Reitman backing out of directing, hasn’t put a damper on the project though.
Sigourney Weaver (who portrayed Dr. Venkman’s romantic foil, demonically-possessed Dana Barrett), Rick Moranis (who portrayed demonically-possessed accountant Louis Tully), and Bill Murray have all expressed interest in a third film. Aykroyd dropped a new bombshell in July on NBC’s The Today Show telling Carson Daly, “It looks like we’ll be in pre-production in the spring now, from what I’m hearing. It should be good. But there is still not much known about who will be involved.”
Ernie Hudson also has expressed his interest in reprising his character of Winston Zeddemore should Ghostbusters 3 see the light of day. Hudson’s affable portrayal of Winston, the lovable, unassuming, everyman of the four ghost busting heroes, continually endears him to audiences of the film franchise. People can relate to the down-to-earth Winston and his hilarious take-it-in-stride attitude of things, of just being all in a day’s work, (while saving New York and the world!)
A gifted character actor, Hudson has appeared in countless film and TV roles, including his memorable role as Solomon in the hit 1992 horror film The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, and starring as Warden Leo Glynn in HBO’s 1997-2003 stark prison drama TV series, Oz.
Hudson also starred in perhaps his most beloved and memorable dramatic role, as the kind and benevolent police officer Sgt. Albrecht in the 1994 film adaptation of comics/graphic novel author James O’Barr’s The Crow. The Crow, currently celebrating its 20th Anniversary, went on to become a cult film and phenomenon in both pop and underground culture. It was also the last film of the late actor Brandon Lee. Lee, who starred in the title role of The Crow/Eric Draven, tragically died in an accident on set while filming. Hudson’s compassionate portrayal of the gentle policeman who befriends both Lee’s character, heroic spirit, Eric Draven, and the waif child Sarah, is one of the central highlights of the film.
Just a few days after Ghostbusters enjoyed its re-release in theaters on Labor Day holiday weekend, Ernie Hudson graciously discussed his creative thoughts and memories on Ghostbusters and The Crow.
Congratulations on the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters and also the 25th Anniversary of Ghostbusters II! What are your emotions on being such an integral part of such an iconic and beloved film franchise in 80’s pop culture and cinema history?
Well, it’s nice to be loved. I think it’s great that people embrace the movie and still love it after all these years. My emotions are that I am honored and very appreciative.
Why do you think that Ghostbusters means so much to so many people of all ages, generation after generation, to this day?
I think this movie is a timeless classic that crosses generations. It is one of the few films that families can share and enjoy together.
Ghostbusters is having a special 30th anniversary theatrical re-release for one week, in over 700 theaters nationwide starting on August 29. Will there be a special celebratory premiere, and if so, will you be there on the red carpet? Will you be involved with any of the planned special events?
We have been doing various interviews. I will be in Chicago watching the movie at the Hollywood Palms Cinema and introducing the movie along with fans, but there is no collective gathering of the stars or premiere planned.
Will Director Ivan Reitman be there or any members of the cast?
There isn’t one premiere but we are certain each of the team will be celebrating in some way or another.
What are your thoughts on the theatrical re-release?
It’s great that fans who have only seen the movie on TV will have the opportunity to see it on the big screen, as it was intended.
How did you get the role of Winston Zeddemore? How did Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd who wrote the story and script, and director Ivan Reitman know of you and your work? How did they approach you for the role?
I auditioned and tried to impress the film makers. I also did a movie in 1983 called Space Hunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone with Molly Ringwald and Peter Strauss. Ivan produced it and Harold was one of the writers, (Ed. note: Ramis also had an uncredited voice-acting cameo role in the film), so that was my introduction to them.
What were your thoughts about the script, storyline, and your character when you first read through it?
I thought it was a great role. I liked the character and the story. I very much wanted to be a part of it, even though the story changed from the original script to the one we shot. While the role changed considerably, I still liked the character and very much wanted to play Winston.
What did you do for your audition and how did it go over with Ivan, Harold, Dan, and Bill?
An actor prepares and goes in and tries to convince the producers that he is the right person for the role. Apparently that is what happened as I got the role. I was cast by Ivan and Harold. I met Dan and Bill afterwards.
Winston Zeddemore is such a likable and affable guy, especially made so by your sparkling performance. He’s always so calm and collected when confronting the supernatural. I love your first scene with Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz, when she interviews you and lists the “unique” qualifications for the Ghostbusters job. She asks you, “Do you believe in UFO’s, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography”, (while she’s asking you this the camera cuts to your very calm, relaxed expression like this is nothing out of the ordinary), as she continues, then listing “telekinetic movement, full trans-mediums, the Loch Ness Monster, and the theory of Atlantis?” You reply, very blasé, “If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say”. How did you prepare for your role as Winston?
The heart of the character was what I was feeling when I was shooting and I prepared as I do for any role, by immersing myself in the character of Winston.
How did your rehearsals go? Did you crack up a lot while rehearsing and then filming your lines? Did you and the cast have a lot of bloopers and did you have to do a lot of re-takes?
We had a lot of fun and we absolutely laughed a lot! Everyone was professional and we had a great script. There were not a lot of retakes but we did shoot a lot of alternate funny lines. What was seen in the completed cut of the movie was what worked the best.
Many actors say that comedy is actually much more difficult than drama. Have you found that to be the case? What are the challenges in doing comedy as opposed to drama?
I think comedy and drama both require good timing. The difficulty is determined more by who you are playing off of. I don’t find one more difficult than the other unless you were doing comedy with people that weren’t very funny.
What was that unlicensed Nuclear Accelerator really made of, and what was it like to have to wear that heavy thing on your back as you shot the film?
I’m not sure of what it was made of. It was mostly metal and it was heavy and uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time, but that is a small price to pay for such great footage. We also had stunt “rubber packs” for more demanding shots.
You look extremely badass sporting that Proton Pack! Did you feel as badass as you looked, wearing it while using your particle thrower?!
Absolutely! You can’t have a Proton Pack and NOT feel badass.
What did you think about the evil supernatural destroyer of Gozer taking form as, of all things… an adorable, giant, Stay Puft Marshmallow Man?!
I think that was perfect casting for this kind of film!
What did they use for the melted marshmallow all over you, after Winston, Peter, Ray, and Egon zapped the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man?
It was actually tons of shaving cream.
How did the makeup and costume crew get that goo all over you to shoot that scene, and how did they get it off of you? And the same goes for the pink slime in Ghostbusters II?
There were vats and tubs filled with shaving cream that were dumped on us. As far as getting it off, we were on our own!
You have what many Ghostbusters fans regard as the two best and most classic lines in the movie. Why do you think your first iconic line, “That’s a big Twinkie,” has become, and continues to be, such a memorable milestone with fans?
Then there’s my very favorite line of yours in Ghostbusters. After you and the Ghostbusters save New York City and its citizens from Gozer and the 112 and a half feet tall, giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, we see Winston, who’s covered in melted marshmallow, raise his head and arms up to the city skyline and exuberantly exclaim, “I LOVE this town!! Ha Ha!!” as you clap your hands with joy. How did Ivan, Harold, and Dan decide that you should recite that iconic line?
We felt we needed something to put an unforgettable button on the movie and that line was it!
How did saying that line, for you, exemplify the magic of New York and the magic of the film, which is also, very much a love letter to the beautiful Big Apple?
I love New York, so it was easy and great to say a line that says that sentiment.
You are also in Ray Parker, Jr.’s official music video for the theme song from Ghostbusters. Tell me about that creative experience and the shoot for that, and what that was like for you.
It was a lot of fun shooting that video in Times Square. Ray Parker is a great guy. It is a great song, and it was a really fun experience.
When was the last time you spoke with Harold Ramis? Did you have a chance to speak with him before his sad and untimely passing and what did you talk about?
The last time I spoke to Harold was at the premiere of his movie, Year One. We talked about Ghostbusters 3 and caught up on the fun of the first two.
How recently have you talked with Dan, Bill, Sigourney, Annie, Rick, and Ivan, and have you discussed Ghostbusters 3, which is still in the planning, pre-production stages?
I have talked to all of them in the past year. All expressed a desire to do the next film, but I haven’t seen any definite plans yet for this.
Will you be reprising your role as Winston in Ghostbusters 3?
If they offer it to me, I would love to!
Without giving too much away, what plot details can you reveal?
None of these details have been released so I can’t comment on that.
What are some of your fondest and most memorable on set anecdotes, reflections, and especially creative experiences working with the cast and crew, Bill, Dan, Harold, Annie, Rick, Sigourney, William Atherton, and Ivan?
Being on the streets of New York. Spending time with the cast and crew was fabulous, and there are very fond memories of all for me.
You were the only member of the film’s original cast to audition for a voice acting role in The Real Ghostbusters animated TV series, in which you had hoped to reprise your role as Winston. But the voice acting role went to Arsenio Hall, which with respect to Arsenio, greatly disappointed a lot of fans. Did the show’s producers and creators ever tell you why they made that choice, and how did you feel about that?
The timing was off for my own schedule at that particular time. No, they did not talk to me specifically about their casting. I think Arsenio is a wonderful talent and a great friend. If anyone replaced me, I am happy it was him.
In 2009, you, Dan, Harold, and Bill, and most of your other cast members did lend your voices and likenesses to Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Critics and fans were very impressed, and Dan Aykroyd stated “This is essentially the third movie.” What was that creative experience like, getting into character via voice acting? Did you think the creators of the game did a good job recreating the atmosphere and excitement of the movie?
I think the creators did an incredible job. It reflects very clearly their love of the movie. I loved getting together with the other guys and I am glad we created something we are all proud of.
In 1989 you reprised your role as Winston in the sequel and this time you had the chance to be slimed! What are your creative thoughts about the sequel, how it progressed the storyline concept, and how Winston’s character was developed?
I think the second movie, Ghostbusters II, was much more family friendly and kids seemed to enjoy the sequel the most. I was glad to be a part of this.
My very favorite role of yours, is that of police officer Sergeant Albrecht in 1994’s The Crow which is now celebrating its 20th Anniversary. For many people, including myself, that is your most emotional and meaningful dramatic role. How did that role come about for you? How did director Alex Proyas approach you for the role and why do you think that that character, and film, resonates so powerfully and emotionally with people?
The Crow is one of my favorite movies. It was very tragic and I knew Brandon for seven years before we shot the movie. It breaks my heart that he is no longer with us. The movie turned out great and I was happy to be a part of it. It was one of my favorite acting roles ever.
What are your fond memories of working with Brandon Lee?
Brandon was a really sweet, generous, giving guy and very talented. It was an honor to work with him and I enjoyed every moment I spent with him, professionally and personally.
What are your thoughts regarding The Crow remake starring Luke Evans? Would you reprise your role as Sgt. Albrecht or play another role or cameo in the new remake film if the opportunity arises?
I wouldn’t reprise my role. Brandon was The Crow for me.
How have your roles in both the Ghostbusters and The Crow film franchises impacted and affected you emotionally and creatively throughout your career as a gifted actor?
It’s part of my entire resume and I am proud to have been part of both.
What new creative film and TV projects are you currently working on that we can look forward to seeing you in?
I am in the upcoming film You’re Not You with Hilary Swank and I star in the Gallows Road indie movie with Kevin Sorbo. I am also enjoying my time doing public speaking. I am also up for a recurring role on a TV series that I cannot discuss officially yet, and I am writing my first book.
|#1 © 1984. Courtesy of Columbia/Sony Pictures. All rights reserved.|
|#2 © 1984. Courtesy of Columbia/Sony Pictures. All rights reserved.|
|#3 © 1984. Courtesy of Columbia/Sony Pictures. All rights reserved.|
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|#6 © 1989. Courtesy of Columbia/Sony Pictures. All rights reserved.|