Ernie Hudson Remembers His “Devastating” Experience With Ghostbusters

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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:

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The Ghostbusters reboot has been set for release on July 16th, 2016.

 

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Ghostbusters II turns 25 today

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I know this isn’t a common opinion, but I always loved Ghostbusters II.

I think by simply existing as a sequel to the first movie, the odds were already stacked against it. The first Ghostbusters was a unique gem and something in a class of it’s own- a sci-fi comedy with elements of horror and suspense. Shouldn’t it have been left alone? Is nothing sacred? Isn’t Bill Murray right about sequels always being a bad idea?

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Not according to Ivan Reitman, Dan Akroyd and the late Harold Ramis.

It’s hard to create a sequel that retains the spirit of the first movie without being an exact retread of the first film (see: Home Alone II, The Hangover 2) and to many people, Ghostbusters II is exactly that. The guys band together and once again save the world from complete destruction at the hands of a paranormal entity residing in New York City. I guess I was having too much fun to really notice. The movie took everything that the first one did and made it bigger. The effects, the budget, the music, the action sequences. The pink slime flooding the city and generating angry spirits throughout the city brought a feeling of dread to a movie that was pretty light on it’s feet. If the frequent appearance of screaming severed heads and a re-risen Titanic didn’t paint the picture of the apocalypse, consider that at the center of the pink slime was a terrifying warlord kept alive within an equally terrifying painting.

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Maybe this is why my Ghostbusters II VHS saw more action than the first movie did when I was young. Ghostbusters II was like an amped-up, high budget music video constantly tickling the senses of a hyper-active child.  The stronger points of the first movie were built around original concepts, a sharp script and surprisingly witty humor. GB II retains the spirit of the first one by not cutting back on sight gags or dry quips from Murray and Ramis but many of these moments are mowed over by a musical montage of action sequences dripping with traditional special effects …some of which still look pretty cool today.

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So I suppose I can’t blame the majority of the world for choosing the more adult, more original Ghostbusters film. The 1984 original still holds up, it’s absolutely hilarious and it’s one of the most charming and original films ever made. I’m not saying the sequel is better, I’m simply saying that it earned it’s proton packs. Billy Murray’s Venkman pretending to be a construction worker and yelling at the police or Dan Akroyd’s Ray asking Egon if he owned any toys as a child.

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We had part of a slinky. But I straightened it.

Moments like these keep the spirit of the first movie, despite them being more scarce. I may not laugh as frequently throughout the sequel but I will continue to smile when the boys take control of a supernaturally charged Statue of Liberty with a Nintendo NES Advantage controller as the entirety of New York City sings along to “Higher and Higher”.

…and come on, how about that Bobby Brown track?

 

 

 

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