Ghostbusters Star Ernie Hudson Breaks Down 40 Years of the Franchise

May 10, 2024 - Movies

The tradition of the Ghostbusters tends to consist of four individuals, and this is the formula that every version follows. In the original crew, most people tend to think of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis since, in the film, they are the three founders and were also a major part of the comedy scene in the 1980s. Yet, actor Ernie Hudson and his character Winston Zeddemore are likely among the most vital components of what made the franchise such a success. Winston Zeddemore was the everyman and one the audience could relate to. He wasn’t a scientist; he was just a guy simply coming in and answering a help wanted ad for a job.

Winston is the promise to the audience that anyone can be a Ghostbuster. In a part that might have gotten overshadowed by the other team members, Ernie Hudson holds his own with some of the biggest comedic stars. He made Winston a fan-favorite whose role got expanded in Ghostbusters II and, with both Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, has now grown into a billionaire character. “It feels great. Winston has been a part of my life for the past 40 years. I mean, it’s over half my life, and it’s great,” said Hudson.

Ernie Hudson is an accomplished actor and one of the most underrated performers in the Ghostbusters franchise. Apart from Ghostbusters, he has also had major roles in beloved films like The Crow, Basketball Diaries, and Miss Congeniality and appeared on beloved television series like Modern Family, Torchwood, and The Secret Life of an American Teenager, to name a handful. Hudson sat down with MovieWeb to talk about Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire in time for its digital release and ahead of its home video release.

Winston Zeddemore Becomes the Tony Stark of Ghostbusters

While Winston might have begun as the everyman of the group in the original film, the end credits of Ghostbusters: Afterlife revealed he was a billionaire. Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire shows him operating sort of in the Tony Stark/Iron Man function to the Avengers, using his considerable wealth to develop new tech for the Ghostbusters to study and combat the paranormal. “What I love about Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is Winston gets a chance to introduce his research center, and he’s looking into it much deeper than just running around, catching ghosts and sticking them in a locked chamber someplace,” said Hudson.

Obviously, all these cool new Ghostbusters toys and ghosts open the door for sequels, and Hudson surely has his mind towards the future:

And so that opens up hopefully the possibilities of what’s to come… I love the possibilities of the Ghostbusters universe. You know, ghost stories are all over the world in every culture, and hopefully, we can sort of explore that.

In terms of returning to the franchise, Hudson certainly enjoyed bringing Ghostbusters back to its roots. “What I loved about Frozen Empire was, as with Afterlife, we got a chance to meet Spengler’s family, but now we come back to New York, the epicenter of all this, and we see just how we can move forward into a different space,” said Hudson. “So this is all very, very exciting. It just feels great.”

40 Years of Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire‘s release coincided with the upcoming 40th-anniversary release of the original Ghostbusters back in 1984. The impact of the original film cannot be overstated. It was the second highest-grossing movie of 1984, behind only Beverly Hills Cop (and that film made most of its money in 1985). Ghostbusters beat out beloved franchise entries like Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Doom and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and other beloved benchmark movies of the 1980s like The Karate Kid, Gremlins, and Footloose.


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Hudson has been there since the beginning. For many of us, it is hard to imagine being part of such an iconic piece of popular culture. It’s one thing to be part of a hit, but to be part of a landmark piece of pop culture is something special. When did Hudson realize Ghostbusters was more than just a movie? “I think the first big thing was the first screening of the movie. I saw the screening, I was like, ‘Wow,'” said Hudson. He continued to describe how the films have grown over the years, saying:

“It was really about after five years that people were still excited about it, and then we did the second movie. 10 years into it,
people were still coming up to me with their jumpsuits on when I saw cars being turned into Ectomobiles
. First, you’d only see the Cadillac, but then suddenly, people were turning Volkswagens into Ectomobiles. Then 15 years and 20 years, and then I think the reality is that people really connect with [Ghostbusters].”

Why Ghostbusters Connects with So Many People

A lot has been said about the state of the box office, even Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire itself; when that movie first hit theaters, it was seen as a bit of a disappointment. Its opening weekend matched that of 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which was one of the first big films to come out when theaters reopened following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire might not have taken the box office by storm, it did quickly sneak past $100 million at the domestic box office, which is something many films have been struggling to achieve recently. And it pushed the franchise passed the $1 billion mark (like Winston!).

Fortunately, there is always something about Ghostbusters that connects with people. For some, it is the comedy; for others, it is the idea that anyone, regardless of background or education, can vanquish the monsters hiding under the bed. Hudson has his own theory for why the franchise has remained relevant for so long, a beautiful one that connects us all: the idea that nobody has all the answers to what happens to us when we pass on. Hudson explained how the theme of mortality resonates in Ghostbusters:

It’s about that primal thing that we all share; we all know we have to transition at some point [and die]. And there are no answers that we can definitely know, so this is a wonderful medium to sort of look at those things in a way that we can share with other generations.


Every Ghostbusters Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

With the recent release of the newest installment, what better time to review the franchise’s 40-year history and rank every Ghostbusters film? 

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Hits Digital and On Demand Platforms

It appears that with each generation, Ghostbusters finds an audience. Something about the concept seems to speak to viewers, young and old. Everyone has their version of the Ghostbusters, be it the original 1984 film, the animated series The Real Ghostbusters, the 1990s Extreme Ghostbusters, the all-women cast of the 2016 film, or the new generation from Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Frozen Empire. Family audiences seem to be a big one in the Ghostbusters franchise. “You know, I saw grandparents with their grandchildren, who on the street would come up and tell me stories” said Hudson.

I’m not sure if the studios always realized the potential, but the fans just held on to it and embraced it,” added Hudson. “I’m so happy the movie’s done well, and that people have embraced it. I’m sure, you know, with streaming and all the other ways of seeing the movie, it’s only going to do more and be around for a while.”

Speaking of which, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is available for rental and purchase on PVOD and digital platforms such as YouTube, Apple TV, Google Play, Fandango at Home, and through the link below on Prime Video:

Watch Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

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