The most iconic image from the original Ghostbusters films has Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Harold Ramis as the trio of scientists decked out in jumpsuits and ghost-hunting gear. But there was a fourth Ghostbuster in the shape of Winston Zeddemore, played by Ernie Hudson. In a recent interview with Michael Rosenbaum, Hudson explained how his character's role, which was written for Eddie Murphy in the original film, was drastically reduced while in production, but will become a complete character in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
"We don't know a damn thing about Winston. With Bill Murray, we see him in his little studio, or Danny in his little lab, we get a sense of what is outside of what we're seeing. But with Winston, he's just there. He just pops up... In the beginning, there was a backstory [but] just before we started shooting, they wrote him out... Basically, instead of coming in page eight, he came in at page 68. All the backstory where I come in and we talk about who I am and I'm auditioning and explaining what I do, he just says, 'If there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say.' I find that a funny line, but you don't get to know who this guy is. It's a funny bit, but unfortunately, it doesn't give you a lot to play. So as an actor, you have to bring all of that with you, and hopefully, people will see it."
While Winston Zeddemore was originally intended to be a full partner in the antics of the Ghostbusters, after Murphy dropped out of the project citing scheduling conflicts, the character was rejiggered as an outsider, who takes the place of the audience that the other characters explain scientific gobbledygook to. Despite the script not giving him much to work with, Ernie Hudson managed to elevate the role of Winston to something memorable, as the actor goes on to explain.
"I think the studio probably worked overtime to try and make sure that the Ghostbusters were always thought of as three guys. I think it's the fans - and I really appreciate the fans who really embraced the character - and at one point Winston was one of the best-selling dolls they had, and they were surprised. I think that's because fans really loved the character."
Now, Hudson has a second chance to do justice to the character of Winston in the upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife, directed by Jason Reitman. Hudson feels that his character will get his proper due this time around, adding that, "Thanks to Jason Reitman. Winston is definitely a complete character [in the new film]."
Directed by Jason Reitman, Ghostbusters: Afterlife stars Finn Wolfhard, Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, and Mckenna Grace. The film brings the mythology of the original movies into present times with a new generation of spirit-hunters carrying on the legacy of the original characters played by Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is set to arrive in theaters on November 11.