Gordon Holmes: It’s been 20 years since the Ghostbusters last rolled into action, was it tough to get back into character?
Ernie Hudson: No, to me Winston was very specific, the kind of guy he was and his approach to life. I think once you get that sense of a guy’s perspective on the world it’s just part of who you are. Every character is a little bit different. But, I like Winston, he’s got sort of a laid back approach to things compared to everyone around him. So, it was fun to get back into the character and explore it a little bit.
Holmes: Now, the last guy to do the voice of Winston was Arsenio Hall. Did you feel the need to get back in there and show him who was boss?
Hudson: It’s funny, because I actually wanted to do the animated series, I think I was working on something when that was going on. Arsenio did a great job. But, I really felt like the character was mine. I think when you establish it, it’s very hard to imagine anybody. So, it wasn’t so much Arsenio, it wouldn’t matter who was doing it. I had sort of put my fingerprint on it. And I just really felt like the character was mine. It was kind of hard for me. But I will say he did a great job, so no disrespect.
Holmes: Did you fill in a backstory for Winston?
Hudson: The original script early, early on before we did the first movie, Winston was hired from the Army and he was a Major and he specialized in demolition. It was all backstory stuff. And then when we were on the shoot it was much funnier just to present him as an everyman. And, the period between the first movie and the second movie, Winston was a guy who never really lived up to his full potential until this opportunity came up to be a part of the Ghostbusters. He then starts to claim his own ownership in it. I always loved the scene in the jail cell in the first one when he says, “I’m not with these guys.” But he finds his place, it’s his family. Between the last movie and the video game he’s gone off and gotten his PhD. A couple of the guys probably gave him a piece of paper saying he got his PhD. (Laughs) I think for him just having a place where he connects, and the character for me is a guy who never really fit in totally in a family, he’s always been a little outside, and in an odd way he connects with these guys and what they’re doing. And as much as he’d have a hard time admitting, they’re his home.
Holmes: What are some of the challenges translating a character from the big screen into a video game?
Hudson: In voiceover you only have your voice. And that’s difficult because you want to express so many things, but you have to do it vocally. It really requires being able to concentrate on a single area instead of having a hundred things to play with.
Holmes: How was the script for the game?
Hudson: The script was great, I was pleasantly surprised. Because I remember there was a game after the first one. And I’m not a game player, but my kids are. So, I really wanted the game to live up to the films. But, the script is great, and the action stuff is great. I had a lot of fun doing it. It’s very exciting, my third son came in and played the game for a while and loved it. And I was also happy to hear that Danny and Harold were very much a part of writing it. It was great, it was like making a movie again.
Holmes: So you’re saying Aykroyd and Ramis still have the magic?
Hudson: Yeah! I think so. I think “Ghostbusters” is Aykroyd and Ramis. Especially Aykroyd. I can’t imagine it happening without Danny. I think it’s his insanity that completes the whole thing. And I say insanity cause we all have that part of us. And Harold helps put that insanity in focus. I’ve heard there’s another writing team that may take part if there’s another movie. But me personally, I have a hard time imagining it without those two involved in the creative process.
Holmes: How’s the Winston character looking? Are they doing you justice?
Hudson: Yeah, he went through a few changes there, but I think so. I like what they came up with. It reminds me of another part of me that used to be. Maybe in 1991, perhaps. I think they captured all the characters well.
Holmes: I’d slip the designers a couple bucks and see if they’d make me look better.
Hudson: This may sound egotistical, but in my case whenever they bring in a stunt man, he’s in worst shape then I am. (Laughs)
Holmes: Were you surprised at all when you heard Bill Murray was coming on board?
Hudson: I was very surprised, I’m not sure what all the backstory is, but I’ve always been under the impression, and I get all of my information from fans, but I was always under the impression that Bill was the reluctant one to come back. So, when I heard that, I was shocked. Very happy though. Because like Danny and Harold I can’t imaging anything being legitimate without Bill Murray. He just is Peter Venkman. So, when he agreed to do it, I got very excited.
Holmes: Twenty five years ago, did you have any idea of how big “Ghostbusters” would become?
Hudson: No, I had no idea. It was nice, it’s like the character in the movie, it was nice to have a steady paycheck. But all the work, whether it’s a big film or a small film, it’s all the same work. I love the guys, but I’m not a “Saturday Night Live” fan. And when the movie came out it really touched that part of the social psyche, it was great, it was a pleasant surprise. But when we were doing it we had a sense that something special was happening.
Holmes: When people talk about the “Ghostbusters,” what do they bring up?
Holmes: Well, the small kids always want to know about the 60-foot marshmallow man. They’re always fascinated by that and they’re disappointed when I say it wasn’t that tall.
Holmes: Wait, what?
Hudson: (Laughs) And I was fortunate enough to get some very quotable lines. Fans will always say, “That’s a big Twinkie.” And lines that you don’t even think about like, “I’ve seen shit that will turn you white.” I’m in New York, and when I leave here to go to the theater, someone will yell out, “Who ya gonna call?” It’s odd because it’s different things for different people. I think the surprise for me was it really got to small kids, they love it, like my kids when they were really small fell in love with the movie. And it also got older people, like senior citizens. It really got the whole spectrum. A lot of people showed up with their little kids who are now fans of the movie.
Holmes: Any mementoes from the set? You got a proton pack lying around?
Hudson: No, but I’ve got a fan who made me a proton pack that is actually better than the one we had in the movie. It’s amazing. I travel around to different places and no matter where I go, if fans find out I’m there, they show up, sometimes maybe 50 people wearing Ghostbuster outfits with the proton packs. There’s some really neat stuff, all kinds of things. Ghostbusters Cadillacs, Ghostbusters Volkswagens. I was in Belgium and guys showed up with their Ghostbusters outfits, and I think they had what was a Volvo and it was Ghostbusters.
Holmes: How do you reflect on your experience as part of the franchise?
Hudson: It’s all over the map. I’m very happy to be a part of it. Happy to have it in my body of work. I’m working on stage now with a lot of actors who’ve been working for years and never had a major movie release, much less something that really becomes part of our culture the way “Ghostbusters” has. I’ve seen how it’s lifted the spirits of people I’ve met all over the world. It’s been a blessing to be a part of it. I’m very honored. I feel like I’m a part of their life, I’ve met kids who are named Winston. People tell me their first date was “Ghostbusters” or they watched “Ghostbusters” when she got pregnant. So I feel like I was a part of their lives, and that’s a wonderful thing.
Holmes: Watching “Ghostbusters” while conceiving a baby?
Hudson: (Laughs) Yeah.
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