Ernie Hudson – who played Winston Zedmore in ‘Ghostbusters’ – has told how a last minute re-write of the script changed his character’s role completely – and perhaps his career along with it.
Looking back on the smash hit movie in Entertainment Weekly, the actor, now 68, explains how he thought the role would be the job of a lifetime, but that he now has mixed feelings about playing the fourth Ghostbuster.
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“When I originally got the script, the character of Winston was amazing and I thought it would be career-changing,” he writes.
“The character 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. It was great.
“Now I’ve heard, over the years, that the part had been written for Eddie Murphy—all of which Ivan Reitman says is not true. But it was a bigger part, and Winston was there all the way through the movie.”
He goes on to say that he took a pay cut for the role, because he was told the part would make his career, but the night before filming started, the dream began to fall apart.
“I get this new script and it was shocking. The character was gone,” he says. “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.”
He then pleaded his case for Winston’s character to director Ivan Reitman, but was told there was nothing that could be done, the dispute becoming ‘the elephant in the room’.
“I see this differently now - and I don’t mean any kind of animosity or anything towards anyone, certainly not towards Ivan or the guys,” he continues.
“I was a single dad, and we were struggling to kind of hold on and pay the rent. I still needed to do this job. 30 years later, I look back at the movie and it works very well the way it is. I think the character works with what he has to work with. But I’ve always felt like, “Man, if I could’ve played that original character…’
“I love the movie, I love the guys. I’m very thankful to Ivan for casting me. I’m very thankful that fans appreciate the Winston character. But it’s always been very frustrating - kind of a love/hate thing, I guess.”
The fallout continued after the movie too, with the spectre of ‘Ghostbusters’ seeming to do more harm than good, he says.
“The sad part is the thing that I thought that Ghostbusters would do, which is really kickstart my career into high gear, it never really materialized. I’ve never been told that I’ve gotten a job because of Ghostbusters; I think there have been a few jobs that I’ve lost [because of it]. Since [the movie], I’ve been given and taken advantage of the opportunity to perform a myriad of challenging roles, so what am I complaining about?
“Now 30 years later, seeing little kids with their Ghostbusters backpacks, seeing whole families dress up - the movie has a special place, and I’m very humbled and touched by it. I certainly am thankful to have been a part of it. I love being an actor. I still enjoy the process. I’m still hoping that I’m going to get that one great role that I thought I had in the original Ghostbusters. 30 years later, I’m still looking.”
The original team of Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts and director Reitman - minus the sadly departed Harold Ramis and Rick Moranis, who has retired from show-business - joined together for a photoshoot for the magazine earlier this week to celebrate 30 years of the iconic comedy.
After ‘Ghostbusters’, and then the sequel ‘Ghostbusters II’, Hudson went on to land roles in films including ‘Miss Congeniality’, but has found more success on TV, appearing in shows like ‘Law & Order’, ‘Desperate Housewives’, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and ‘Modern Family’.
Image credits: AP/EW/Rex
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