Ghostbusters Was Psychologically The 'Most Difficult' Movie Ernie Hudson Ever Did

Considering all the cultural reverence that "Ghostbusters" has accumulated over the decades, it's confusing to look back at the original film and see how Winston Zeddemore got pushed to the sidelines. Although the character has garnered lots of love from the fans since his debut, Winston doesn't appear on the original movie poster or even in the actual film until about halfway through the plot. That wasn't originally supposed to be the case, either, and actor Ernie Hudson has admitted he still personally struggles with how Hollywood producers wanted to diminish the role of a prominent Black character.

According to Hudson, the original script introduced Winston "right at the very beginning of the movie," and positioned him as "an Air Force major something, a demolitions guy." However, at the last possible minute "the night before filming," a revised screenplay nixed the character from the first 67 pages and turned him into a for-hire afterthought looking for "a steady paycheck," as quoted in the film. It's speculated the reason for the cut material is because Dan Aykroyd had originally written the role of Winston for fellow "Saturday Night Live" cast member Eddie Murphy, a claim that Murphy himself has confirmed but director Ivan Reitman previously denied. Murphy would soon become a bigger name and went on to star as the lead in "Beverly Hills Cop," but Reitman argued that Hudson brought an everyman quality to Winston, allowing him to function as a "stand-in for the audience."

Hard to make peace with

Ernie Hudson expressed his dissatisfaction about Winston feeling like an afterthought in an episode of "The Howard Stern Show," stating that all the last-minute changes to his character in the "Ghostbusters" script "felt deliberate." The actor said of his experience:

"It wasn't an easy road. It was probably the most difficult movie I ever did just from the psychological perspective. [...] And I'm still not trying to take it personally. Anything bad, if you're African-American in this country, anything bad happens to you, you can always blame it on because I'm Black. You don't want to go there. That's the last thing I want to do. I got nothing bad to say about anybody but it was hard. It took me 10 years to get past that and enjoy the movie and just embrace the movie. 'Ghostbusters' was really hard to make peace with it."

Hudson added that he felit like it was the studio rather than the cast that was primarily responsible for kicking him out of the film's plot and promotional material. Adding insult to injury, Hudson explained that the casting didn't significantly help boost his career like he had hoped and like the studio promised him. Luckily, years of warm fan response helped him overcome his bitter feelings. Unlike the poster, the fans knew Winston was an integral part of "Ghostbusters" and "identified" with the character, giving both him and Hudson the love and respect they always deserved.