Ernie Hudson Couldn’t Even Get on the ‘Ghostbusters’ Poster

Like a ghost, much of his character disappeared
Ernie Hudson Couldn’t Even Get on the ‘Ghostbusters’ Poster

Some weird things went down between the time Ernie Hudson signed onto the original Ghostbusters and when filming actually began. It was as if the studio hired an exorcist, but instead of getting rid of a malevolent spirit, Hudson's character Winston Zeddemore was the one purged from the script. 

On a recent interview on the Howard Stern Wrap-Up Show, Hudson revealed how the screenplay changed after he signed up to be part of the ghostbusting crew. Like a poltergeist sucked into a proton pack, much of his character simply disappeared. “The original script, Winston was in the very beginning of the movie,” he remembers. “By the time we got ready to shoot the movie, Winston came in halfway through the movie.”

Hudson doesn’t blame fellow phantom chasers Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis.  “They were all welcoming and inclusive,” he says. And he has no animosity for director Ivan Reitman either. “Ivan was really, really a brilliant man and I have just so much love and appreciation for him.”  Instead, Hudson points his finger at Columbia Pictures, the studio that marginalized Winston from the get-go. “I very selectively was pushed aside,” he says. “It definitely felt deliberate.”

Columbia Pictures

Where the hell is Winston?

Fans know there were four Ghostbusters, but you wouldn’t guess it from Columbia’s promotional campaign, including the movie’s marketing images. Heck, even Ray Parker Jr. gets a shout-out -- but no Hudson. “I’m not on the poster,” says Hudson. “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 basically identified with Winston, especially young, I don’t want to say minority kids, but a lot of kids.”

“It was probably the most difficult movie I ever did just from the psychological perspective,” he says. “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. Ghostbusters was really hard to make peace with it.”

The disrespect was terrible, but Hudson’s acting career suffered real-life consequences as well. Any actor in a cultural phenomenon like Ghostbusters can usually count on a professional turbo boost, with an accompanying increase in role offers and pay. For Hudson, it was just the opposite.  Before Ghostbusters, he reports working non-stop. After the blockbuster? “It was two and a half years before I got another movie.”

So what about that Ghostbusters reboot that Murray and Aykroyd are supposed to start filming soon in London? Hudson confirms that he has been approached--but he wants to do it right this time. “I’m like, ‘Guys, I’m not an add-on,'” he says. “If I’m going to do it, it has to make sense.” The dang poster would be a good place to start.

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