Everyone remembers Dan Akroyd’s Ray, Bill Murray’s Peter Venkmann and the late, great Harold Ramis’s role as Egon from the Ghostbusters movies. Winston, portrayed by actor Ernie Hudson, is seldom mentioned. He didn’t appear in the posters. His name is often missing from available Halloween costumes. He didn’t even appear in the original trailer for the movie. So what happened?
Hudson remembers the experience of filming the first Ghostbusters movie for Columbia Pictures in a short, heartfelt essay he penned for Entertainment Weekly late last year. The actor explains that when he first read the script, Winston “came in right at the very beginning of the movie and had an elaborate background: he was an Air Force major something, a demolitions guy.” Hudson fell in love with the character and after a long audition process made the “awful mistake” of letting the studio know that he “really, really wanted it”. Columbia offered Ernie Hudson only half of his original quote, promising him it was the role of a lifetime that would “make his career”.
Hudson agreed to the quote. He believed them.
Then, the night before filming, he was passed a new draft of the script:
The character was gone. Instead of coming in at the very beginning of the movie, like page 8, the character came in on page 68 after the Ghostbusters were established. His elaborate background was all gone, replaced by me walking in and saying, “If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say.” So that was pretty devastating.
Hudson had heard that the role was originally written for Eddie Murphy and thought that might be the reason for the sudden changes. Director Ivan Reitman refutes this rumor however, stating that this was never the case. He had also heard that Columbia, in response to Bill Murray’s new found star power, reduced Winston’s character in order to give Venkman more lines.
In any case, Ernie Hudson said that he bears no animosity toward Murray, Akroyd or Reitman, expressing gratidue for his positive experience working on both films. Hudson explains his hurt feelings in greater detail in the Entertainment Weekly piece. Give it a read.
Hudson also recently changed his position on the recent announcement of the all-female Ghostbusters sequel/reboot. After initially expressing concern that fans didn’t want to see an “all-female” Ghostbusters movie if that meant he, Akroyd and Murray wouldn’t be in it back in October, tweeted the statement below:
The Ghostbusters reboot has been set for release on July 16th, 2016.