The large group of Ghostbusters fans who’ve felt that Ernie Hudson’s character Winston Zeddemore seemingly got the shaft with a lack of screen presence and backstory can now add another member to their ranks: Ernie Hudson. In Entertainment Weekly’s recent cast reunion special issue, the actor penned an essay about his disappointment with how the final script cut down his role in the film. Hudson writes about how excited he was to explore this character who was much more integral to the plot, only to find out at the last minute that his part had been drastically reduced.
The night before filming begins, however, I get this new script and it was shocking. The character was gone. Instead of coming in at the very beginning of the movie, like page eight, 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 is still happy to be a part of the beloved franchise and it clearly helped establish him for future roles in projects as diverse as Oz, Congo, The Substitute, The Basketball Diaries, and The Crow. However, the essay makes it clear that Hudson has always felt like a second thought in the world of Ghostbusters and the role he fought for would’ve launched his career into even greater heights.
They used to like to say that Danny’s the heart of the Ghostbusters, Harold was the brain, Bill was the mouth, and Ernie was the soul. When I heard that quote, I was blown away. And then I saw them on the Tonight Show and there was no mention of the Soul. So Winston could always disappear.
The odd treatment of Winston has always been noticeable, from the fact that he’s the only one who doesn’t randomly have a new second career in Ghostbusters II (while everyone else switched professions that requires intensive schooling or at least some vast amounts of funding) to the way he was voiced by Arsenio Hall on The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. It’s an interesting, if somewhat depressing, read where Hudson doesn’t express any animosity towards his fellow actors or director Ivan Reitman, but instead appears melancholic and disappointed that things didn’t work out as planned. Readers can take some solace that Hudson can still find enjoyment in other avenues of his life, like his strategy for the perfect Pokemon battle.