Name your favorite Ghostbuster. Right now… go ahead. Peter Venkman? Ray Stantz? Egon Spengler? Bet you didn’t say Winston Zeddmore. And that’s a bet Ernie Hudson, who played Zeddmore in the films, would sadly take.
“Ghostbusters” is first and foremost a Bill Murray (Venkman) vehicle. Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis flexed their comedy and ghost-busting muscles as Stantz and Spengler as well. So what about the fourth member of the team? Winston Zeddmore comes and goes only as needed and the character seems to exist far more frequently off-screen than on.
So why did Hudson take the far less visible role? Well, turns out, he didn’t. Not at first. “When I originally got the script, the character of Winston was amazing and I thought it would be career-changing. 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.”
But last minute changes to the script the night before filming began all but eliminated Winston. He went from appearing in the first ten pages with a fully formed background to a guy “walking in and saying “if there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say.’”
Hudson, who was a single father, knew he had to hold onto the role. He needed to support his family, though the promise that the film would jumpstart his career was rapidly vanishing before his eyes.
“The sad part is the thing that I thought that ‘Ghostbusters’ would do, which is really kickstart my career into high gear, 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],” the actor writes.
Still, Hudson has had a long (and continuing) career, and he remains optimistic. “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.”
Read the full essay here.