Ernie Hudson, 78, Shares Secrets to Staying Fit, Reacts to Online Thirst: ‘Nice to Be Noticed’ (Exclusive)

The 'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire' star recently went viral after posing on a red carpet wearing just jeans and a tight black T-shirt

<p>Russell Baer</p> Ernie Hudson

Russell Baer

Ernie Hudson

Ernie Hudson wasn’t looking for attention — but he got it anyway.

At a photo call for his new movie Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire in London on March 21, the veteran actor, 78, says he got a smudge on his suit jacket, so he took it off and posed on the red carpet wearing just jeans and a tight black T-shirt.

When images of Hudson popped up online over the next several days, people took notice, and they weren’t shy about sharing their opinions.

“Sweet baby Jesus I’m lusting after someone’s Grandpappy,” one user wrote on X (formerly Twitter). Another called the actor “the epitome of tall, dark and handsome," while one other wrote they were watching the actor's movie Miss Congeniality in honor of the star "being 78 and still hot.”

<p>Joe Maher/Getty</p> Ernie Hudson attracted attention for wearing a tight shirt at a 'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire' event

Joe Maher/Getty

Ernie Hudson attracted attention for wearing a tight shirt at a 'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire' event

Asked about the reaction, Hudson chuckles and tells PEOPLE, “It’s nice to be noticed. It’s been a little bit of a surprise in the last couple of days.”

To Hudson, it's a surprise because he says he's looked relatively the same for most of his adult life, it’s just that no one noticed until now. “I've always been in what I consider fairly good shape,” says the father of four. “But normally, when I do those press conferences, I'm usually in a suit or a sport coat.”

Related: Original Ghostbusters Stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson Join Paul Rudd at Frozen Empire Premiere

The Michigan native never worked out regularly until recently. “I've always tried to be healthy,” says the two-time cancer survivor. “My career hasn't been about focusing on my physicality. The most important thing for me is just to try to maintain your health, just common-sense stuff.”

“I see these guys who really pump up and they got these massive arms and six-packs and all that, that's not what my career has been about,” adds Hudson, who, in addition to playing Winston Zeddemore in the Ghostbuster franchise, has also starred on the HBO series Oz. “I'm usually the warden or the principal, or I'm usually the guy in the suit.”

<p>JC Olivera/Variety via Getty </p> Linda Kingsberg and her husband Ernie Hudson in February

JC Olivera/Variety via Getty

Linda Kingsberg and her husband Ernie Hudson in February

Once he hit his 70s, Hudson says he noticed that “fat began to gather on the lower stomach, and it wasn't going away.”

Now he hits the gym three days a week for an hour at a time. He also works with a personal trainer and a Pilates instructor.

“When I see this guy,” Hudson says of his trainer, “he will put me through some stuff that I feel like for the next couple of days I'm going to be sore. As painful as it is, I actually kind of enjoy it.”

Related: Sherri Shepherd Has Ghostbusters Star Ernie Hudson Sign Her Chest on TV: 'Been Waiting for Years to Ask'

Hudson says he and his wife of nearly 40 years, Linda Kingsberg, try to hit at least 10,000 steps a day — which is not too difficult since they have a dog.

He also credits looking good to his mental health. “I've always looked at physicality more from a spiritual perspective than a physical,” he says. “The spiritual thing dictates the physical more than the other way around. So when I'm in a good space, I'm aware of just how I'm living my life, the other things fall in place.”

<p>Russell Baer</p> Ernie Hudson

Russell Baer

Ernie Hudson

As for diet, Hudson only generally eats between noon and 7 p.m. each day. “I'm not a vegan or vegetarian, so I do eat meat, but then again, I try not to do it too often,” says the star, who pushes himself to drink a few bottles of water a day to keep himself hydrated.

He’s also adamant about skincare and wears sunscreen and uses moisturizer, too. “With a lot of Black men or men of color, there's a darkness that starts to set in under the eyes,” says Hudson.

To remedy that, Hudson says he uses vitamin C “to keep the coloration even.”

Related: Sexy at Every Age

Now, with all the attention Hudson pays to his health having attracted the attention of others — he quips that his wife has noticed too.

“As I get older now and I get more attention, she travels with me now everywhere,” he says. “She never used to in the past. She was like, ‘Okay, I'll see you later.’ Now it's like, ‘No, we're going together!’ "

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is in theaters now.

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