Ernie Hudson: Answering The Call

ernie hudson top“Who you gonna call?”

Actor Ernie Hudson hears that line every time he runs into a fan of the incredible “Ghostbusters” movie franchise. Even though he played a minor part in the series, he is fondly remembered as a pivotal character.

Hudson was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan. He never knew his father. His mother, Maggie Donald, died of tuberculosis when he was two months old. He was subsequently raised by his maternal grandmother, Arrana Donald.

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Hudson joined the U. S. Marine Corps straight from High School, dismissed after only three months due to asthma, before he moved to Detroit, Michigan. He became the resident playwright at Concept East, the oldest black theatre company in the U.S. He enrolled at Wayne State University to further develop his writing and acting skills. He established the Actors’ Ensemble Theatre where he and other talented young black writers directed and appeared in their own works. Later, he enrolled and subsequently graduated from Yale School of Drama. And from there, the rest is history as they say.

Hudson went from television shows like Fantasy Island to big budget movies. He went on to do Ghostbusters and it became an instant success.

GHOSTBUSTERS II, Ernie Hudson, 1989, (c) Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection

“It was life changing in the sense that there were people who recognized me – people would show up at my apartment because they’d seen me in the movie – but in terms of Hollywood opening the door – that didn’t happen,” explained Hudson. “I didn’t get another movie until Weeds almost three years after.”

“Then I did eight movies back to back and the second Ghostbusters movie came out and the same thing happened – I didn’t get another movie until The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and even they didn’t want to see me at first because I was in Ghostbusters and they saw me as a comedian.”

“So there was never a real upswing in boosting my career – in fact in many ways it was the opposite. I’m not complaining – you know I go across the country still and people will stop and recognize me.”

“But there’s a big disconnect between Hollywood and the average Joe Public – Hollywood makes movies they want to make I don’t think they are very much connected with the average person.”

But the seasoned actor is not bitter at all.

“It’s hard to find anybody who didn’t like the movie – older people like it, little kids like it, everybody likes it.”
“I think it touches on something very primal in all of us – about what happens when we turn the lights off. I love being a part of Ghostbusters. It’s fun.”

“You know, I have sons, and in this environment black men can be very marginalised and bad things happen and the attitude I take on about my life, they pick up, and I didn’t want them to go out there like that. So I say, listen man, there are a lot of hard things and you gotta keep going. I can’t make that speech if I’m not living it. So I just say,…