Ernie Hudson may be recognizable to many from his roles in the "Ghostbuster" movies and some others, but his record as a working actor in film, television, and as a stage performer certainly earns his place among our list.
There are very few actors who can lay claim to a professional resume as long and varied as Ernie Hudson, but Hudson has always been a unique screen presence, capable of taking on any role. When we first published this profile, Hudson was most recognized for his starring role as Warden Glynn on the critically acclaimed HBO series "Oz", which ran for six seasons. Then, he starred as a veteran cop on the new ABC prime-time series "10-8"; which was followed by a returned to the stage in an acclaimed production of August Wilson's "King Hedley" in Minneapolis. He also played the simple-minded handyman Solomon in the box-office smash "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle" and was slimed when he starred as one of the original "Ghostbusters" in two films. His list of credits in film. television and on stage only grew from there!
In 2003, Hudson appeared in Pulitzer Prize winning playwright August Wilson's latest effort, "King Hedley II" at the Penumbra Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Early in his career, Hudson made a splash starring in the Minneapolis production of "The Great White Hope". Returning to Minneapolis to star in "Hedley" during the renowned Penumbra's 25th season has led to accolades for Hudson, with local reviewers noting the 'slick panache' and 'butter smooth' approach he brings to the role of Elmore, a con artist.
Born in Benton Harbor, Michigan, a career as a performer seemed like an unlikely path for young Ernie Hudson, who was already married with a young son when he enrolled at Wayne State University as a Speech and English major. 'Being an actor never occurred to me', Hudson recalls. 'There was no one even remotely connected to the industry where I was from. It wasn't until I got to college that I realized how much I enjoyed it.' Hudson's early ambition was to be a writer, and he for a time served as the resident playwright at Detroit's Concept East, the oldest black theater company in the country. Later, he founded Actors Ensemble Theater, where he and other black performers staged and appeared in their own original works. After attending Wayne State, Hudson accepted a full scholarship to the prestigious Master of Fine Arts Program at Yale University as a writing and acting student. This led to a number of regional theater roles and critical acclaim, and his feature film debut in "Leadbelly".
'The thing that altered my life the most was when my first marriage ended and my two young sons came to live with me', Hudson remembers. His wife wanted to pursue her education, and it made sense for Hudson to bring the kids to California. At the time, Ernie, Jr. and Rahaman were 10 and 7 years old. 'Thankfully, their mother taught them how to cook and clean and they were very self-sufficient', Hudson jokes. 'I sent them away one summer and the house fell apart'. Being a full-time dad to his kids enriched Hudson in unexpected ways: "They did as much raising me as I did them," he explains. 'I grew up without having a father, and I wasn't really sure what that role was. They helped me find it'.
As a single father, Hudson quickly realized that making a living as an actor was now a necessity, not just a dream. There were parts in feature films like "The Main Event" with Barbra Streisand, "The Jazz Singer" with Neil Diamond, and television projects like Abby Mann's acclaimed miniseries "King" and the highly-rated "Roots II". Hudson found himself alternating between film and television roles until 1983, when he was cast as Winston Zeddemore, the fourth member of the "Ghostbusters" team. The two "Ghostbusters" films, co-starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, were huge box-office hits and gave Hudson a higher profile than he had ever known. He continued to work at a steady pace and began to get recognized on the street. 'After doing so many different kinds of movies, I've found that the people who recognize me come from all walks of life... and everyone knows me from a completely different role'.
Hudson subsequently earned starring roles in films such as "Weeds" with Nick Nolte, "Leviathan", "Sugar Hill", "The Cowboy Way", "Speechless" and "The Basketball Diaries" (starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio). When director Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential") was making "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle", he cast Hudson in the pivotal role of Solomon. 'After "Ghostbusters", a lot of people thought that I was a comedian, but doing more comedies wasn't my goal', says Hudson. 'Doing "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle" reminded me of the fun I could have while exploring different facets of acting. I loved making that movie, and it also allowed me to re-establish myself as a dramatic actor'. Another favorite role of Hudson's was in the thriller "Congo". 'I never really envisioned myself as a leading man. The character in "Congo" was my Ronald Colman character, the man who ran the show. After I saw my performance in that movie, I felt really good about what I was capable of achieving and what I had to offer as an actor'. He also starred in the action thriller "No Escape" with Ray Liotta, directed by Martin Campbell. who also directed the pilot episode of"10-8." Hudson singles out his role of Officer Aibrecht in the 1994 thriller "The Crow" opposite the late Brandon Lee. Although Lee's death, a result of an on-set accident, is still a painful memory, Hudson remains proud of the movie. 'I'm so glad we got to finish it because it really shows Brandon's enormous talent', he says. Hudson admits that two of his heroes growing up were Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee, and he remembers conversations with Brandon in which the young star said he hoped "The Crow" would establish his career apart from his father's legacy.
Hudson then completed the sixth and final season of the acclaimed series "Oz". Series co-creator Tom Fontana had worked with Hudson when he guest-starred on an episode of "St. Elsewhere" years ago, and cast him as Warden Leo Glynn, the fair- minded warden of the high-tech experimental unit of a maximum security prison. 'It was a wonderful show to do because the actors were so good', Hudson enthuses. 'It's a hard show to watch because of the brutal nature of prison life, but I do think it makes a very strong statement and there's some very powerful writing'. For his work on the show, Hudson won the International Press Academy Golden Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Drama Series.
"Oz" also afforded Hudson a unique opportunity - to get a chance to work with his oldest son, Ernie Hudson, Jr., who played an inmate in the third season. 'I always told him that it didn't matter what he did for a living, but I knew my own career would influence what my kids wanted to do', he says of Ernie, Jr.'s choice of career. Both of his older sons earned college degrees and are continue to find success.
In his career, Hudson continues to defy expectations and typecasting, and has taken on more daring parts in recent years, including playing the cigar-smoking caddy in "Miracle on the 17th Green"; a terrorist expert in TBS' highly-rated premiere film "Nowhere to Land"; the President of the United States in the action film "Stealth Fighter"; the late James Jordan in the Fox Family telefilm "Michael Jordan: An American Hero"; as a literary police detective in HBO's "Red Letters"; or co-starring in projects as diverse as the thriller "The Watcher" with Keanu Peeves and the comedy "Miss Congeniality" with Sandra Bullock. Since then he has contributed memorable roles on television in "ER", "Desperate Housewives", "Las Vegas", "Bones", "Law & Order", "Criminal Minds", "Grey's Anatomy", "The Secret Life of the American Teenager", "Transformers Prime", "Franklin & Bash", "Modern Family", "Graves", "APB", "Grace and Frankie", and recently "Blue Bloods" and on the big screen; "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous", "Pastor Brown", "Doonby", "Spaceman", "Gallows Road", and in the lead role, "High & Outside: a baseball noir" to name only a few!
For someone with over 200 film and television credits on his resume, Ernie Hudson still considers his biggest challenges ahead of him. 'Acting is what I do. I consider it my calling and ministry. It's as important as anything I do in life. It's a journey that has taken me to places beyond my wildest imagination and continues to excite me with its endless possibilities'.
When he's not working, Hudson likes to spend time relaxing at home with his wife and family and remains committed to developing all facets of his creativity, including his writing.
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Talent Agent Personal Appearance
Judge Robert Stennis
Lucius Fox (voice)
Detective Ernie / Judge Hudson, Jr. / Dad
Judge Lawrence Perry
Detective Gerry Claymar
Chick Magnet CEO
Commander Randolph Boles
Agent William Fowler
Dr. Ken Fields / Dr. Fields
Lord Vater (voice)
Prof. Zaccharine Ragus PhD
Deacon Harold Todd
Winston Zeddemore (voice)
Agent Lorenzo Dawson
Colonel James Gallant
FBI Asst. Director Harry McDonald
Senior Deputy John Henry Barnes
Warden Leo Glynn
Detective Glen Teal
Detective Ron Mills
Rev. Walter Andrews
Senator Douglas Wilson (as Ernie Hudson Sr.)
Curtis '8-Ball' Harris
Agent Gus Anders
Nat Love aka Deadwood Dick
DEA Agent Baxter
Dr. Joe Branson
Principal Claude Rolle
Captain Monroe Kelly
Officer Sam 'Mad Dog' Shaw
The Tennis Captain
Police Officer / Lisa's Father / Officer Chauncey
Reggie 'The Sandman' Martin
Sergeant Lane / Night Train
Cyborg / Victor Stone
Winston Zeddmore (uncredited)
Jerome Willy Muhammed
Harold 'Jazzman' Malloy
Muslim at Door
Bo (as Louis Hudson)
Archie (as Earnest L. Hudson)
* © - 2005 Warner Bros. Entertainment