Ghostbusters Star Ernie Hudson Reveals Details About Winston’s Backstory That ‘Never Made It’ Into The Original Film

 Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters.
Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters.

Light spoilers for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire lie ahead.

The Ghostbusters franchise has more than thrived since Ivan Reitman’s 1984 supernatural comedy crushed at the box office. Just a few months ago, fans of the proton pack-wielding paranormalists were treated to the latest sequel, Frozen Empire. One of the familiar faces in the fold was fan favorite Winston Zeddemore, played by the incomparable Ernie Hudson. The veteran actor has been seeking to add fresh elements to Winston’s characterization in recent years. But, during an interview with CinemaBlend, Hudson looked back, revealing details of Zeddemore's backstory that “never made it” into the OG film.

What Ernie Hudson Told Us About Winston’s Pre-Ghostbusters Life

Winston is introduced in the classic romp as an everyman who’s just looking for stable employment. That search leads him to the titular team’s iconic firehouse, where he is interviewed by Janine Melnitz and then swiftly offered a position by Ray Stantz. Viewers get a solid sense of Zeddemore’s witty and sincere personality through that one scene. And, over time, other scenes help to flesh him out a bit more. However, if you’re like me, then you may have long been curious about what Winston’s life was like before he joined up with Stantz, Egon Spengler and Peter Venkman.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Ernie Hudson in promotion of Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’s home release, during which the jovial actor discussed his tenure with the franchise. What couldn’t help but ask, though, was how much of Winston’s backstory he’s aware of at this point. That’s when Hudson revealed details of Winston’s history while also discussing the character’s professional standing at the onset of the movie:

Well, when we first did the original movie, there was a whole section of Winston having been in the Air Force, been [a] demolitions expert. He came in, and part of his whole introduction was sharing that history [, which] never made it to the film. But Winston, you know, I think he was more than qualified for the job of ghost busting. And, but, you know, sometimes, certainly in the African American community, you may be qualified, but that doesn't necessarily mean you’re gonna get the job. So, at that point in Winston's life, he's just looking for a steady paycheck, like he says so well in the movie.

As fun as they are, the Ghostbusters films have their flaws, and some might argue that one of the OG film’s shortcomings is that Winston isn’t quite as developed as the other lead characters. A detail like that Air Force tidbit may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but it could’ve done a lot for the character. I wish this additional information about Winston would’ve made the cut, and it may have helped soothe the Crow alum’s desire for the character to have more meaningful material in that movie.

Ernie Hudson Opens Up About His Character’s Evolution

For some time now, Ernie Hudson has been candid about wanting improvements made to Winston. The star revealed that he felt his character was treated as an “add-on,” especially since he didn’t come into the story until later in the movie. When he opted to return for 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, he wanted to ensure that Zeddemore got his due. In his eyes, the film did indeed rectify the problem, and Hudson shared with me why he’s pleased with how it turned out:

But what was important for me, and thankfully, Sony, and [director/producer] Jason Reitman felt the same way, that it was important for him to, 40 years later, not be still looking for a job. It was important to me that he be an example of what's possible, I think in Afterlife, he mentioned that I want to be an example of what was possible. … He's managed to, you know, have a family. He does have a family we don't get introduced to in this movie, and he's been, you know, socially responsible and responsible to his community to not have forgotten where he [came] from. And I think a large part of what Ghostbusters is that part of them that still appreciates the fact that these guys were there for him at a time when he really needed it. When he came into that [firehouse], he really needed a job and didn't believe whatever these crazy people were doing. But he became a believer, and I think he feels a certain loyalty and dedication to them. I think he's still paying Ray’s rent. But he's just one of those people.

These days, the veteran Ghostbuster is now the head of Zeddemore Industries, a global enterprise that he started after he retired from ghost busting. The end of Afterlife saw Winston purchase the old firehouse as part of his effort to re-establish the eponymous group. And, by Frozen Empire, he’s established the Paranormal Research Center. Needless to say, he’s no longer a man in need of a job but, as Ernie Hudson furthered explain, there’s one aspect of the character that has not changed:

What I really appreciated, for me, is the fact that he's been successful and still held on to his humanity. Because [there are] so many examples. You know, the guy who was ruthless, he's hard, he does these awful things – be it in the streets or in the boardroom – that goes against humanity. And I like the fact that Winston, hopefully, is an example of what's possible and still hold on to what's important, and your humanity, your community. And, unfortunately, we haven't seen a lot of that in the movies. But, if the franchise moves forward, I'd like to see, you know, just more of that, as well. … And I look at my own life, I go, ‘You know what? I've been very, very blessed.’ I haven’t had to do or even consider some things that I've heard other people doing. … There is a God and there is, in my mind at least, and you know, we can live a good life. That's what I hope Winston represents of humanity.

I definitely agree with the actor’s assessment on the character’s arc and with how far he’s come. Now, there are even some who’d agree that Winston is the best Ghostbuster hands down. Admittedly, after hearing about his backstory, I do still have questions about his personal life but, those aside, I’m pleased with how bright Winston’s future is.

You can see the character and his teammates in action in Ghostbusters Frozen Empire (one of the biggest titles on the 2024 movie schedule), which is now available to buy or rent digitally. And keep your eyes peeled for details regarding when the movie will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD formats.