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Ghostbusters: Afterlife – Ernie Hudson Reflects on the Life, Legacy and Future of Winston Zeddemore

“Just once I wouldn’t mind running with all those fools AWAY from the trouble!”

– Winston Zeddemore

Ernie Hudson has been an actor for over 40 years and has appeared in many film and television roles. He is perhaps best known for his role as Winston Zeddemore in the Ghostbuster film series, a role beloved by generations. To fans, he wasn’t just a man who busted ghosts but stepped up to the challenge, proving his skills and loyalty made him a dependable, integral member of the team. Despite Winston’s fame or how complicated a situation became, he continued to act as an everyman and voice of reason for the team. 

Now over 30 years later, director Jason Reitman and producer Ivan Reitman have created a movie that not only honors the past and builds towards the future with Ghostbusters: Afterlife; offering more insight into what Winstone was up to all those years after Ghostbusters II.

Hudson reprised his role as Zeddemore and, in the years since the Ghostbusters business collapsed, Zeddemore started a successful global enterprise, crediting his time as a Ghostbuster as his inspiration to start it. Despite his successes, Zeddemore remains loyal to his friends and has fond memories of being a Ghostbuster.

Zeddemore proved to be the most successful outside of the first film. Originally not even a scientist like the others, but just an average New Yorker who took the job to make some money, he ended up incredibly motivated, turning his attention toward a separate business venture. Within a few decades, his two-man operation had grown to become an international conglomerate — with Zeddemore even quietly providing the funding for Ray’s occult store.

Now a father, he is a financial success, buying the team’s old firehouse headquarters back from Starbucks, and has Ecto-1 restored and delivered there, and has been paying the rent on Ray’s occult bookstore for some time, as a way of honoring their friendship.

In celebration of Ghostbusters: Afterlife releasing on Home Video, The Koalition spoke to Hudson about reprising his role in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, how it felt to bust some ghosts once again, his character’s impactful legacy, if there’s another chapter for Zeddemore and more.

“[The Ghostbusters franchise is something] the audience has embraced. Families watch it [together], grandparents watch with their little grandkids, and everybody finds something in it to laugh about and enjoy. That’s very exciting because most of the films I’ve done had their moment but then they move on. [So, to] see people in their jumpsuits and turning their cars into ectomobiles [was amazing [and] I’m very happy to be a part of that. The fans have made this movie. It wasn’t a movie like Star Wars or Star Trek, this was sort of built on the fans who just stayed loyal.”

Zeddemore is now a father and educator who wants his children to follow in his footsteps, but does that mean picking up the mantle and becoming a Ghostbuster working alongside their father? “They never tell me anything because they know I’ll tell the whole world. I’m not sure what the direction is [but it’s one] of the possibilities. But what I loved about Afterlife is that it solidified and brought together the first two movies and now we can move on because we’ve sort of come together and Winston finally [has] dimension to him.”

“[While] he’s very much a part of the other movies, we don’t know much about in his background. So, this opens up the possibility of him being there and being part of this [along with] his family, I would hope. But I just have to wait like the fans and see what they have in store, but whatever it is, I’d like to hope I’m a part of it.”

Hudson had led a career many actors could only wish to have and while Zeddemore is just a fraction of his resume, his career is the literal definition of Black Excellence. As explained by W.E.B. DuBois, it is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at oneself through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. Hudson has led a life where he has repeatedly overcome the mindset of perpetually being denied, finding success and being an inspiration for all.

“I’ve heard all the stuff about the statistics and Black people going to jail, Black people being on drugs and Black people not taking [care of their] family. Well, I want to be an example. You don’t have to go to jail, you can raise healthy kids, you can have some money at 70 years old and you can be healthy at 76 years old.”

“So, when some kid is saying, ‘it’s impossible because ‘I’m in the projects,’ [I respond with] ‘oh no, I was in the projects; you still find a way to love, you still find a way to contribute, you can still find a way to keep moving forward and achieving your dreams.’ I’m very thankful because growing up everybody’s telling me all the things I couldn’t do and I’m like ‘why not?’

“I think there’s so much going on in the world and honestly I’m a little confused by a lot of things, but at the end of the day, [I want] to live a good life. My grandmother would say, ‘just be an example of what’s possible’, which I think Winston says in Ghostbusters.”

“Most of us grew up in some form of church but I would see all the people who say they believe in God and yet they were so afraid and I’m like, ‘listen if this is real then there’s no limit’.’ I’m not worried about being super rich, I just want to live a good life. I haven’t tried to hurt anybody, I haven’t tried to get even with anybody, I just want to as we said in church, ‘to run a good race.'”

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is now available on Home Video. To see more from this interview, check out the full video above and check out our interview with Celeste O’Conner.

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