Ernie Hudson has reflected on his treatment by the studio during the inception of the Ghostbusters franchise.
The actor, who played Winston Zeddemore alongside Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis in the 1984 sci-fi film, said the studio was not “inclusive” of his character in the film’s promotional materials.
Speaking about joining the cast on The Howard Stern Show, Hudson said: “I was the guy who was brought in, and 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. So it made it very, very difficult because I was a part of it but very selectively I was pushed aside.”
He added: “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 have basically identified with Winston, especially young, I don’t want to say minority kids, but a lot of kids.”
Despite the huge success of Ghostbusters, produced and distributed by Columbia Pictures, the film didn’t help boost his career until much later.
“When you start out in the business, I was always told it’s almost impossible to succeed,” Hudson said. “But if you get in a major movie from a major studio and it comes out and it opens number one, it will change your career. Well, Ghostbusters didn’t do any of that for me. I was working pretty nonstop. I did Ghostbusters and it was two and a half years before I got another movie.”
He added: “It wasn’t an easy road. It was probably the most difficult movie I ever did just from the psychological perspective. The original script, Winston was in the very beginning of the movie. 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. 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. That’s the last thing I want to do. I got nothing bad to say about anybody but it was hard. It took me 10 years to finally get past that and embrace the movie and just enjoy the movie. Ghostbusters was really hard to make peace with.”
Hudson reprised his role in 1989 sequel Ghostbusters II. Since then, his other appearances in the franchise include a cameo in the 2016 reboot and returning to the role of Winston in 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
A sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife is scheduled to be released later this year, with Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard and Carrie Coon set to reprise their roles.
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