Ghostbusters star Ernie Hudson pays tribute to Harold Ramis: “I learned a lot from him”

Hudson and the late Ramis both feature in documentary Cleanin' Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters.

Ghostbusters

*This article contains spoilers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife*

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Cleanin’ Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters is a project several years in the making and it’s pretty much the definitive documentary for any fan of the franchise, speaking to almost all major players involved and answering every question you ever had about the the original 1984 film (and probably a few you hadn’t even thought of).

The two-hour feature is available to watch now via Rakuten TV – featuring contributions from almost the entire main cast and many members of the production team, it’s an impressively candid look at what it took to put together one of the most iconic film comedies of all time.

Ernie Hudson, who plays Winston Zeddemore in the Ghostbusters movies, speaks openly about how he was initially disappointed to see his role cut back from early drafts, with much of the character’s backstory being removed – but speaking to RadioTimes.com, Hudson insisted he has now learnt to embrace the film and its legacy.

“I know the studio was surprised that the fans embraced Winston…. the studios made every effort in the very beginning to make sure that it was three Ghostbusters and Winston was sort of an add-on, not expecting him to be as popular as the other Ghostbusters. You know, right down to the posters – I still see posters promoting the movie with just the three guys [Bill Murray as Peter Venkman, Dan Aykroyd as Ray Ray Stantz and Harold Ramis as Egon Spengler].

“I have to be honest and say it was the fans who really kind of forced me to take another look at it and really began to appreciate the movie. I have to say it’s a perfect movie just the way it stands, so whatever decisions were made, apparently they were the right decisions.”

Hudson also touches on “tough” early days on-set in the documentary film and how it was the late Harold Ramis who helped him adjust. “Harold was the guy who would always make sense out of things,” he confirmed to RadioTimes.com. “Sometimes, I’d be on the set and I’d kind of go ‘What the hell is that about?’ and Harold was always the guy who… and I don’t think it was just me, I think when it was Billy or Dan or anyone… Harold was the glue that sort of pulled everybody together.

“I would just watch him – the way he dealt with situations, the way he dealt with people. I learned a lot from him – in fact, I attribute a lot of my longevity in this business to watching guys like Harold, guys who are really grounded in who they are and what they do and how they connect with the business.

“It’s a team thing, you know, everybody comes together to tell the story, but not all actors have that approach. Seeing how Harold conducted himself and just his kindness and generosity toward me… it was very special. I’ve always considered him a very close friend.”

Cleanin' Up The Town - Remembering Ghostbusters
Behind the scenes with Slimer in Cleanin’ Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Bueno Productions

The arrival of Cleanin’ Up The Town on Rakuten TV comes shortly after a new movie in the franchise, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, was released to cinemas, with Hudson admitting that he’d all but given up hope of a third film ever materialising with the original cast returning to their roles.

“As soon as we finished the second Ghostbusters, that was talk about another one, and over the years, fans would come up to me because they thought I had some insider information, which I didn’t! Usually fans knew more about it than I did, because I don’t follow a lot of stuff on social media.

“But yeah, there was always talk, and then the studio would announce it many times, and then it would fall apart. So I had kind of given up hope. And then we did a video game [2009’s Ghostbusters: The Video Game] that was really very well done. And I just said, ‘Well, okay, that’s the third movie, so we’re done with that.’ But, you know, that wasn’t the case.

“I was almost on the set [of Afterlife] before I realised, ‘This is actually happening. Yeah, we’re doing this!’.”

Cleanin' Up The Town - Remembering Ghostbusters
Behind the scenes with Mr. Stay Puft in Cleanin’ Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Bueno Productions

Ghostbusters: Afterlife follows the daughter and grandchildren of Ramis’s character Egon as they uncover the Ghostbusters legacy and later reunite with the original team. Donning the famous jumpsuit and strapping on the proton pack again for the new film was “kind of a spiritual experience” for Hudson, with director Jason Reitman – son of original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman – delivering what the actor considers to be a fitting tribute to Harold Ramis, who passed away in 2014.

“I mean, Ghostbusters had so much impact on my life – and in different ways, you know, from just [feeling] frustration and disappointment to excitement,” said Hudson. “I mean, it’s just run the gamut. And the fans have been just so amazing for so long…

“But getting on the set, seeing Bill Murray and Dan, the three of us in our jumpsuits, it was almost like time hadn’t passed, and seeing Sigourney [Weaver] and Annie [Potts] and then meeting the new cast who are truly amazing, wonderful actors, and seeing Jason and his dad – because Ivan was always around – all of it, it was just a real sort of… completion.

“That’s what I loved about the movie and its tribute to Harold Ramis. Fans have offered me condolences for many, many years, and there was so much love and respect for Harold and I think it would have taken someone like Jason to to really give him the tribute and the respect that he was due.”

Read more about Ghostbusters: Afterlife:

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Cleanin‘ Up The Town: Remembering Ghostbusters is available to rent (£3.45) or buy (£7.99) on Rakuten TV now. Visit our Movies hub for more new and features or find something to watch with our TV Guide.