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From The Vault - Interviews

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Aug. 16, 2009 at 2:36 PM , Categories: Cast & Crew, Internet , Tags: from-the-vault
Internet Chat with Ernie Hudson
Thursday July 9, 1998 8:00 PM EST
(chat run by TV Guide Online)

Ernie Hudson: Hey, guys, hi!

TVGEN: Welcome, Ernie.

Marty2634: Did you do much research for your role on Oz?

Hudson: Not as much as I normally do, actually, the reason being, I'd done about four or five other prison films. One called Women of San Quentin. We shot at the Colorado State Prison, about 10 or 15 years ago. I also did a movie called Weeds with Nick Nolte, which we shot in about five prisons across the country. There was a movie called Penitentiary 2 that we shot in a local prison. So having gone in and out of prisons, and researched the other roles, I'd met a lot of wardens and done that research. So for this I mostly read a lot of books. And I was shooting Mr. Magoo in Vancouver when Oz came up and was being shot in New York at the same time. So I wasn't really able to do a lot of the physical visits, but I did do quite a bit of reading.

Simba_Mousie_Lion: Are there going to be any new Oz's?

Hudson: Yes, we did eight shows for a second season. And they'll start airing Saturday night, I believe. And whether we will do any more has yet to be decided.

Marty2634: What made you want to be on the series Oz on HBO?

Hudson: I had already committed to shoot Mr. Magoo in Vancouver and Tom Fontana called me. Tom is the creator and writer for Oz, it's really his show. He and I had worked together on St. Elsewhere years ago. And we had talked about working together. So many years had passed I had almost forgotten about it, but he hadn't. So he explained the idea and invited me to be a part of it.

Marty2634: Did you enjoy appearing in the film Ghostbusters?

Hudson: Yes, I'm very proud to have been a part of Ghostbusters, even though I don't think it is a good example of the work I can do. But I am proud to have been a member of the Ghostbusters team.

LIL_ANGEL_EYZ: Mr. Hudson, what was it like working with Brandon Lee in The Crow?

Hudson: Oh, Brandon and I had met in 1988 in Vancouver. He was a good friend of Miguel Ferrar's. He was just visiting. We were doing a series called Broken Badges. We became friends then, but The Crow was the first time that we actually worked together. I really liked him and admired his determination to break away from his father's shadow and do his own thing. And I was shocked and I'm still shocked that the accident happened.

Xx_ChiLliNVilLiAn_xX: Who is your favorite actor?

Hudson: Hmm. There are a lot of guys I really respect and admire. Anthony Hopkins I really like. Jack Nicholson I respect as much as anybody who's ever worked in film. Clark Gable I always really liked a lot. Gary Cooper. Morgan Freeman I really respect. So there are a lot, I don't know if there is any single actor. Sometimes performances are great in one role, and then I 'm not so impressed with another. And Tom Cruise, too. I really like his consistency.

Marty2634: Did you always want to be an actor growing up?

Hudson: No. I never thought of being an actor. I wanted to be a writer. When I started college I always imagined that was what I would do for a living. When I started writing for theater, I was working for a small theater company named Concept East. And sometimes the actors wouldn't show up and so I found I had to learn the different roles just to fill in. And I found acting to be really fun. Writing was really work. And over the years I guess the fun sort of won out.

Marty2634: Do you still keep in touch with anybody from the cast of Ghostbusters?

Hudson: Not on a regular basis. From time to time I'll see the different actors. Harold Ramis and I did the movie Airhead together. And I recently ran into Danny Ackroyd. But we are all very busy doing our own thing.

Nsomnia_98: Hi, Ernie. I just have to ask -- you were in several movies in the 1980s, how do you feel movies have changed or differ today from then?

Hudson: Well, the independents are somewhat new. It's a whole other area of filmmaking that's not totally connected to the studios. And so there are more opportunities for guys who are not considered A-list stars. Chances to try different roles that the studios normally wouldn't be receptive to. An example of that was after the first Ghostbusters.

There was no work for about three years in film. I did work on TV. So after Congo, the work in the studios was gone. But now I've been able to stay busy doing independents that weren't around when the first Ghostbusters came out.

Nsomnia_98: Ernie, any plans for the big screen anytime soon? Ghostbusters perhaps? Or maybe a different project?

Hudson: Well, there's been rumors. I just finished a movie in South Africa called Red Tide with Casper Van Dien. He was in Starship Troopers.

And I've been working in features, but since they are independents you're never sure when they'll be released and if they are released you are never sure that they'll have a theatrical release.

Nsomnia_98: Do you have a favorite role out of all of the ones that you have played?

Hudson: Well, I like all the roles that I do, I try to find something about them that I like. But if there is one, it's probably Solomon in the Hand That Rocks the Cradle. And also Monroe Kelly in Congo.

There was a character I did in a movie for USA Network, named Gaten Hill, in a movie called Clover, that I really liked.

Nsomnia_98: Ernie, does acting come easy to you? Do you go through any "warmups" before you become a character? How long do you usually prepare for a role?

Hudson: Ideally, if you had a month or so to think about it. I don't go through as much mental trauma as I used to. It's easier now, because I think I'm less afraid. When you first start acting you're very excited, but you are also very afraid that things could go wrong, if it doesn't work. As I get older, that fear isn't there any more, and I learn to trust more. And most of the better ideas usually come in the middle of the night, when I'm not thinking about it so much.

Marty2634: Were you surprised that Ghostbusters was such a box office success?

Hudson: I was surprised it was as big a success as it was. I believed from the beginning that it would be successful. I didn't know that it would be so big that 15 years after I'd still be talking about it.

Ryan_leclair: What were the "Proton Packs" like in Ghostbusters?

Hudson: Well, of course they really didn't have proton in them or whatever that is! But they were very heavy. The special effects were done in the studio. But they were very helpful in getting into character and getting you to believe that you were this superhero. The lights worked and that's about it.

Marty2634: What was it like appearing in the movie, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle?

Hudson: When I did The Hand That Rocks the Cradle it was after a long break from studio films.

I had finished Ghostbusters 2 and then work seemed to stop. So The Hand was a chance for me to show Hollywood that I am an actor and not a personality or a comedian. And so I had more fun in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle because I found the role really challenging and very rewarding.

And it was a great cast, it was great to watch them work, especially the two female leads and how they approached their characters.

Maybe the greatest joy I have in acting is watching other actors go through their process, and then seeing their work. So both of those actresses are really pretty extraordinary.

Nikal7: Was it hard as an African American to become an actor?

Hudson: No, I think it's just that you become an actor if you're an actor. Becoming an actor isn't hard. Getting work can be a bit difficult.

But I believe getting work for anybody is difficult in this business. So I think it's especially hard for African Americans because there are so few quality roles. Most of the films are not written with African Americans in mind, so there just aren't many roles. But I believe if you are an actor you will act, and you will find a way to express that.

Nsomnia_98: Ernie, how is it that we have not seen much of you lately in the past few years in movies or television?

Hudson: There has been a lot of things in the past few years on TV especially. I recently had a TV movie on HBO on called Butter. I've been doing the series Oz for two seasons now.

A year or so back I had a TV movie on with Sinbad called the Cherokee Kid. HBO premiered a movie I did called Delta Force.

USA had the movie Clover on. The Substitute with Tom Berenger did well in the box office, and it's been playing on cable for the last couple of years or so. So I've worked nonstop.

Many of the films I've done, because they're independents, haven't been released. For example, there's a movie called October 22 with Amanda Plummer and Michael Pare.

It's playing the festivals but it still hasn't been released. There's a movie called Stranger in the Kingdom that's a very good film but it hasn't been released yet.

There's a movie called Hijack with Jeff Fahey still to be released. There's a movie called Levitation that hasn't been released yet.

There's a movie called Fakin' Da Funk, and it hasn't been released yet. And there's a movie I did with Philip Rhee, called Without Warning, and it's still to be released. So even though I've been working consistently, much of the work hasn't been released as yet.

Nikal7: What advice would you give anyone that is trying to make it in the business?

Hudson: Just keep believing, keep the faith. If you aren't careful you can become very jaded, cynical, and I think you have to keep believing in your dream and why you're doing it.

And don't expect anything no matter what anybody says, and be thankful for everything. And never compare yourself to anybody else, because it's impossible to compare.

AJ_25_CF: Is it hard shooting this series?

Hudson: Yes. We don't have a lot of time, seven days per episode. It's the kind of project that needs 10 days. We have new directors every episode. They're chosen because they're very creative. Unfortunately, we just don't have a lot of time, so you have to come prepared, you can't work things out on the set. But in terms of getting into character or the believability, that's not particularly hard.

Nsomnia_98: Mr. Hudson, what roles would you not consider doing? Are there any that you would not take if offered?

Hudson: Yeah, you know, there are roles that I wouldn't do. A lot depends on the project. For example, I would not have done the role of the drug-dealing principal in The Substitute if there wasn't a positive black character to balance it off of, which is Glenn Plummer. So there are roles that I find repulsive or unflattering, and many times I've had to say no.

I think it's important to try to bring some integrity to any role. And many times I've read scripts where there were no redeeming qualities in the character.

But it's very individual. There are roles someone might be able to do, that I might not. I try not to be judgmental. It's up to the individual actor, but me, personally, there are things I wouldn't do. It really depends on the project and how the character plays in context.

Seabee1234: As a prison guard, I feel that the show Oz has captured what it's like being around the inmates. Did the cast do a lot of research in prisons?

Hudson: You know I can't speak for eveyone. I know that Tom Fontana did do a lot of research. And I also know that many of the extras have actually spent time in prison. So I can't say for sure.

Lobo101: Before starring in The Cowboy Way, did you have any experience riding horses?

Hudson: I've ridden horses before, but I didn't consider myself a good rider. After The Cowboy Way I do now consider myself a pretty good rider.

I did a movie called Leadbelly in 1970-something and I had to ride horses, but Cowboy Way was a lot of fun because I got to ride a lot.

Smooth_Q45: Mr. Hudson, in what movie do feel that you preformed your best?

Hudson: That's hard to say because I believe that I'm always trying my best. It may not appear that way to some people, because many times you are taking chances and you are sort of finding my way, but I don't think I've ever gone and deliberately done less than my best. Acting is a very unsual profession. The last thing you want to do is to be caught acting and trying hard.

SportsChic04: Besides acting, what do you like to do?

Hudson: Well, I don't have a lot of hobbies but I have started to write again, and that's where my focus is going towards, writing and developing projects. The rest of the time is with my family. I have four sons. And it's important for me to be there for them. So whatever they're into, that's what I try to get involved with.

Higuy40: Which three leading ladies do you enjoy working with?

Hudson: I don't know anybody I don't like. I really liked working with Elizabeth McGovern. I like Annie Potts a lot. I don't know. Sigourney Weaver, I suppose, because they are all very nice people.

Rose041912: What actor have you not yet worked with that you wish you could?

Hudson: I'd love to work with Debbie Morgan. She was in Eve's Bayou. I've known her for years, and I think she's really grown. I'd love to work with her. Anthony Hopkins. Denzel Washington.

Ants_marching98: What can we expect from your character, McManus, in the upcoming season?

Hudson: Well, you know I play Leo Glynn. And McManus is Terry Kinny's character. But I think you'll find Leo is going to be much more vulnerable in the second season than he was in the first season. He's going through some personal crisis in his own life, and that's going to impact his work in the prison.

PUNK_GIRL_FROM_KOREA: Do your reconizability and reputation sometimes get in the way of a normal life?

Hudson: Yeah, sometimes. Sometimes I find it difficult to just be in the crowd, if I'm with my family just to take the time with them without other people coming up for autographs or whatever. So sometimes it can be a bit annoying.

It's wonderful if you can control when it happens, but unfortunately you can't. And I find if I'm in a hurry or in a bad mood, people don't understand that. They always want you to be the person they see in the movies.

Smartbomb99: Did you ever think about writing a book about your movies and all the people you've worked with?

Hudson: I've thought about it. It might be a little premature right now. But now that I'm back to writing, that's one of the possibilities. I'm focusing on screenplays now, but I think a book is definitely something I'd like to do in the future.

SportsChic04: How did you get involved doing a live chat with Yahoo!? Are you glad you said yes?

Hudson: Yes, I've enjoyed it very much. I think it's important to do stuff like this. I'm always fascinated by people who watch the different projects. It's nice to get feedback. And it's nice to know that they take the time to ask questions. So it's a pleasure to take part in this.

Cenexgirl: Mr. Hudson, Oz provokes a lot of emotion out of its viewers. Of those shows, is there a particular favorite or least favorite of yours?

Hudson: There was the execution of Leon. Leon is the actor who was the first to be executed in last season's shows. His father comes to watch the execution. Perhaps it's because I'm a father, but I found that show very emotionally moving. I think all the shows are strong and I like them all, but that show especially was very hard.

You know I discover these shows in the same way the audience does. I work on the shows. But much of the time when I'm not involved in the scenes, I'm not there. So when I watch them on TV, it's really me seeing a lot of the stuff for the first time. I became a real fan of the show by watching it last season.

Efram_98: Were there any roles you turned down that you regret not doing?

Hudson: No, not really. There are no roles that I've turned down that I regret. There are some roles that I was being considered for that I didn't do and later on felt I should have pursued - for example, the father on Family Ties. The series Night Court. Most of the stuff is TV. I haven't done a lot of TV.

And when I see a show that's on the air for 10 years, I think maybe I would be financially in a better place if I had done it. But when I really think about it, I don't regret it.

Eris_Discordia_: What are a) the role you are proudest of playing? b) the role you had the most fun playing? c) the role you would most like to play?

Hudson: Let's see. The role I'm proudest of playing is probably Solomon in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. The role I had the most fun playing was Monroe Kelly in Congo.

And the role I'd most like to play is James Bond!

Matt_Shek: Can you tip us off as to what's in store for Ozwald this season?

Hudson: The characters realize that rioting won't get them free, and so they start to devise all kinds of ways to get out. It's a very exciting season. And one finally makes it.

TVGEN: Ernie, thanks for joining us tonight.

Hudson: Thanks for taking the time and seeing the work!

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