The actor reflects on how the industry has changed and why he’s still hoping for a role where he’s not just part of “somebody else’s story.”
At 75, Ernie Hudson is still on the hunt for “that one great role” — but he doesn’t need it to be content with all he’s accomplished so far.
Most well-known for his work on “Oz” and as Winston Zeddemore in “Ghostbusters,” the actor was refreshingly honest about his career path in a 2014 piece he wrote for the 30th anniversary of the film for EW. After writing about how his role in the movie was reduced between when he signed on to when they began filming, he said he was “still hoping that I’m going to get that one great role that I thought I had in the original ‘Ghostbusters.'”
When TooFab caught up with him this week to talk about his new film “Redemption Day,” he said that search never really ended, but he’s not stressing about it anymore either. In “Redemption Day,” he plays a supporting role as the boxing father to Gary Dourdan’s character, and had a great time doing it.
“I’d love to get the role that the story is about the character. I’m not in somebody else’s story,” he explained. “This is the journey that this guy goes through and I’m the guy going through it, and you get to see all of him.”
While he has experienced that on stage with “The Great White Hope,” that hasn’t been the case really on film. “But honestly, I’m okay,” he added, “If it happens that’d be great but at a certain point you gotta go you know what, ‘I’d love to get an Academy Award, but I gotta be okay with where it is.”
What really changed his outlook was his second cancer diagnosis in 2011.
“I came close to dying and that was the moment when I said, ‘Whatever I didn’t get done, I gotta accept the fact that I might not get it done and I gotta be okay with where I am right now,'” he explained. “And that’s kind of how I look at it. I would love to get the great role, I’d love for that to happen, but I’m not going to wait for that to be happy.”
Though Hudson’s great role has eluded him so far, he has noticed a positive change in the types of roles he and other Black or people of color have been offered in recent years. Admitting there’s still “a long way to go” to get Hollywood where it should be, he said “we’ve come a long way” from his early days in the industry.
“I don’t think that many years ago, Gary would not have been the lead in this film,” he said. “I star in and Executive Produce the show called ‘Family Business,’ even though on BET I don’t think that would’ve happened. Or ‘L.A.’s Finest,’ the leads are a Black and an Hispanic woman.”
“The world is a diverse place, that’s the thing that people keep trying to ignore when they talk about going back to some form of time, you kinda got, that wasn’t the world then and it’s certainly isn’t the world now.
“It’s a little globe and we’re all a part of it, so I’m excited that Hollywood is at least making an attempt to reflect that.”
Working on “Redemption Day” allowed Hudson to explore a little bit of the globe — and it’s one of the main reasons he signed onto the film in the first place. While he said the PC “interview answer” was that he loved the project and the idea that director Hichan Hajji could film something in his home of Morocco, the “real answer” is a little more selfish.
“It was shooting in Morocco, and my wife’s favorite movie is ‘Casablanca,’ so when she heard it was Morocco it was no question of whether or not I’m doing the movie,” he revealed. “So, we wanted to go to Morocco to buy a rug, which we did, and ride a camel. That was the unofficial answer, but she was excited about it.”
Watching the movie, you might be surprised to learn Hudson is 75. In his first scene, he’s seen in the boxing ring and showing off his impressive guns in the process.
“I’ve just been very fortunate to try to take care of what I have,” he said about his physique. “I’ve lost 35 pounds since we been locked down. My routine is push-ups, sit-ups, just basic stuff you learn in junior high school. But I’ve never had to transform my body, I’ve just sort of held onto what god gave me I guess.”
“I’m happy to hear them called guns. So, that’s a good thing.”
“Redemption Day” is in theaters January 8 and VOD on January 12.