The Working Actor EDITOR'S INTRO
This is the forty seventh in a continuing feature at IndustryCentral profiling "The Working Actor". (See Archives below)
William Shakespeare said "There are no small parts--.". William Shatner may have said it too, but the longhair with the tights was first, or so the reports go. In this feature we will explore what it really means to be an actor working in Motion Pictures and Television.
Broad public acknowledgment may have eluded some who find their way to these pages, or perhaps they may have brushed against what is referred to as stardom by virtue of one or more remarkable performances. However for many, the rewards of plying their craft in a field which has allowed them to earn a living may exceed the burdens of public acclaim. Given the chance, some in this clan might prefer the longevity offered by anonymity over the potential for short lived fame.
These individuals, either by design or fate, have managed to sustain a career by crafting performances which rendered them a good casting choice. They are usually thought of as a face you recognize, but you just can't get the name past the tip of your tongue.
Most of these folks have spent countless hours on stage in theaters ranging from 20 seats to 2000, building characters from the works of Ibsen, to Eliot, to Williams, to yes even Shakespeare, and so many of the modern Playwrights. They have rounded their skills doing drama, comedy, & musicals. Their work is a serious venture.
These people have given us screen performances which quite often were the catalyst that brought an Oscar or Emmy to another and yet they continue to work as "Characters" or "Co-Stars" without the trophies and plaques adorning their mantle.
Ernie Hudson
click photo for full size.
click for full image  click for full image  click for full image  click for full image  click for full image

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. These days, Hudson is most recognized for his starring role as Warden Glynn on the critically acclaimed HBO series "Oz," which ran for six seasons. This fall, he stars as a veteran cop on the new ABC prime-time series "10-8"; and he recently returned to the stage in an acclaimed production of August Wilson's "King Hedley" in Minneapolis. But those are just the latest roles for Hudson, who 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.

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 recently 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 finding 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.

For someone with over 100 film and television credits on his resume, Ernie Hudson still considers his biggest challenges ahead ofhim. "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.

Darryl Marshak
The Marshak/Zachary Company
8840 Wilshire Blvd. 1st Floor
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Tel: 310-358-3191

Thomas Cushing
Innovative Artists
1505 10th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tel: 310-656-0400

Lori De Waal & Associates
7080 Hollywood Blvd., Ste. 515
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Tel: 323-462-4122
Fax: 323-463-3792

Ernie Hudson's Credits (partial)
  • Halfway Decent (2003) - Playing Tom
  • 10-8 (2003) TV Series - Playing John Henry (2003-)
  • Anne B. Real (2002) - Playing Principle Davis
  • HRT (2001) TV Series - Playing Special Agent JC (Julius Cesar) Thornhill
  • A Town Without Christmas (2001) (TV)
  • Walking Shadow (2001) (TV) - Playing Hawk
  • Miss Congeniality (2000) - Playing FBI Asst. Director Harry McDonald
  • The Watcher (2000) - Playing Ibby
  • Red Letters (2000) - Playing Detective Glen Teal
  • Nowhere to Land (2000) (TV) - Playing Danny Gorlin
  • Everything's Jake (2000) - Playing Jake
  • Hijack (1999) - Playing Senator Douglas Wilson
  • Interceptors (1999) - Playing Major McKenzie
  • Lillie (1999) - Playing Larry Miller
  • Paper Bullets (1999) - Playing Detective Ron Mills
  • Stealth Fighter (1999) - Playing President Westwood
  • Miracle on the 17th Green (1999) (TV) - Playing Earl Fielder
  • Shark Attack (1999) - Playing Laurence Rhodes
  • Michael Jordan: An American Hero (1999) (TV)
  • Best of the Best: Without Warning (1998) - Playing Detective Gresko
  • Butter (1998) - Playing 8-Ball
  • Stranger in the Kingdom (1998) - Playing Rev. Walter Andrews
  • October 22 (1998) - Playing Arthur
  • Oz (1997) TV Series - Playing Warden Leo Glynn (1997-2003)
  • Fakin' Da Funk (1997) - Playing Joe Lee
  • Levitation (1997) - Playing Downbeat
  • Operation Delta Force (1997) - Playing Tipton
  • Mr. Magoo (1997) - Playing Agent Gus Anders, CIA
  • Clover (1997) (TV) - Playing Gaten Hill
  • The Cherokee Kid (1996) (TV) - Playing Nat Love aka Deadwood Dick
  • Just Your Luck (1996) (V) - Playing Willie
  • For Which He Stands (1996) - Playing DEA Agent Baxter
  • Tornado! (1996/I) (TV) - Playing Dr. Joe Branson
  • The Substitute (1996) - Playing Principal Claude Rolle
  • Lifestories: Families In Crisis (1995) TV Series - Playing Coach
  • Congo (1995) - Playing Captain Munro
  • The Basketball Diaries (1995) - Playing Reggie
  • Speechless (1994) - Playing Ventura
  • Airheads (1994) - Playing Sergeant O'Malley
  • The Cowboy Way (1994) - Playing Officer Sam 'Mad Dog' Shaw NYPD
  • The Crow (1994) - Playing Sergeant Albrecht, Beat Cop
  • No Escape (1994) - Playing Hawkins
  • A Body to Die for: The Aaron Henry Story (1994) (TV) - Playing Coach
  • Sugar Hill (1994) - Playing Lolly Jonas
  • The Substitute (1993) (TV) - Playing Rolle
  • Wild Palms (1993) (mini) TV Series - Playing Tommy Lazlo
  • Angel Street (1992) (TV) - Playing Thurman Nickens
  • The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992) - Playing Solomon
  • Broken Badges (1990) TV Series - Playing Toby Baker
  • Trapper County War (1989) - Playing Jefferson Carter
  • Ghostbusters II (1989) - Playing Winston Zeddemore
  • Collision Course (1989) - Playing Shortcut
  • Leviathan (1989) - Playing Justin Jones
  • The Wrong Guys (1988) - Playing Dawson
  • The Dirty Dozen: The Fatal Mission (1988) (TV) - Playing Joe Hamilton
  • Weeds (1987) - Playing Bagdad
  • The Last Precinct (1986) (TV) - Playing Sgt. 'Night Train' Lane
  • Love on the Run (1985) (TV) - Playing Lamar
  • The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians (1985) TV Series (voice) - Playing Cyborg (Victor Stone)
  • California Girls (1985) (TV) - Playing Ernie
  • Joy of Sex (1984) - Playing Mr. Porter
  • Ghost Busters (1984) - Playing Winston Zeddemore
  • Two of a Kind (1983) - Playing Det. Skaggs
  • Going Berserk (1983) - Playing Muhammed
  • Women of San Quentin (1983) (TV)
  • Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983) - Playing Terra Sector Chief Washington
  • Penitentiary II (1982) - Playing Half Dead
  • Crazy Times (1981) (TV) - Playing Harold 'Jazzman' Malloy
  • A Matter of Life and Death (1981) (TV) - Playing Mr. Harrison
  • Joni (1980)
  • Underground Aces (1980) - Playing African General
  • The Jazz Singer (1980) - Playing Heckler
  • The Octagon (1980) - Playing Quinine
  • White Mama (1980) (TV) - Playing Counsellor
  • The $5.20 an Hour Dream (1980) (TV) - Playing Burden
  • Skag (1980) (TV)
  • The Main Event (1979) - Playing Killer
  • Highcliffe Manor (1979) TV Series - Playing Smythe
  • Roots: The Next Generations (1979) (mini) TV Series - Playing Bodyguard
  • Last of the Good Guys (1978) (TV) - Playing El Coliph
  • King (1978) (mini) TV Series
  • Mad Bull (1977) (TV) - Playing Black Bart
  • The Human Tornado (1976) - Playing Bo
  • Leadbelly (1976)

  • Without a Trace (2002) playing Manny Aybar
  • Touched by an Angel (1994) playing Norm McCloud
  • Arliss (1996) playing Warden Leo Glynn
  • The Gregory Hines Show (1997)
  • Instant Comedy with the Groundlings (1998) playing Himself
  • Superman (1996) playing Professor Felix (voice)
  • The New Batman/Superman Adventures (1997) playing Professor Felix (voice)
  • Grace Under Fire (1993) playing Thad Alford
  • Tales from the Crypt (1989) playing Zambini
  • Batman: The Animated Series (1992) playing Security Guard
  • The Ben Stiller Show (1992) playing Himself
  • The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! (1989) playing Himself
  • Full House (1987/I) playing Reggie
  • Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (1984) playing Digger Love
  • St. Elsewhere (1982) playing Jerry Close
  • The A-Team (1983) playing Cal
  • Webster (1983) playing Rudy
  • The Dukes of Hazzard (1979) playing Avery
  • The New Odd Couple (1982)
  • Taxi (1978) playing Terry Carver
  • Bosom Buddies (1980) playing Rochelle
  • Little House on the Prairie (1974) playing William Thomas
  • Diff'rent Strokes (1978) playing Kwane
  • Too Close for Comfort (1980) playing Sam Martin
  • One Day at a Time (1975) playing Desk Sergeant
  • The White Shadow (1978) playing Johnson
  • The Incredible Hulk (1978) playing Lee
  • Baa Baa Black Sheep (1976) playing King George

  • For more info and credits see IMDb

    -- End ---

    Archives John Getz [June 2003]
    John Getz
    June 2003
    John Wayne [April 2003]
    John Wayne
    April 2003
    Len Lesser [March 2003]
    Len Lesser
    March 2003
    Anne Gee Byrd [Febuary 2003]
    Anne Gee Byrd
    Febuary 2003
    Paul Jenkins [January 2003]
    Paul Jenkins
    January 2003

    Bo Hopkins
    December 2002

    Scott Wilson
    October 2002

    Mario Roccuzzo
    September 2002

    Michael Monks
    August 2002

    Peter Jason
    July 2002

    John Moskoff
    June 2002

    James Reynolds
    May 2002

    Mindy Sterling
    April 2002

    Chelcie Ross
    March 2002

    Barry Jenner
    February 2002

    John Aylward
    January 2002

    Denis Arndt
    December 2001

    Bill Smitrovich
    November 2001

    Alice Hirson
    Octobber 2001

    Warren Stevens
    September 2001

    Stephen Elliott
    August 2001

    Eugene Roche
    July 2001

    Jon Polito
    June 2001

    Peter Riegert
    May 2001

    Bonnie Bartlett
    April 2001

    William Daniels
    March 2001

    Dick Whittinghill
    February 2001

    Chris Ellis
    January 2001

    James Whitmore Jr.
    December 2000

    Vince Grant
    November 2000

    Judith Hoag
    October 2000

    Madison Mason
    September 2000

    Jay Acovone
    August 2000

    Richard Riehle
    July 2000

    Charlie Brill
    June 2000

    Edie McClurg
    May 2000

    Miguel Sandoval
    April 2000

    Tom Bower
    March 2000

    Amy Aquino
    February 2000
    Danny Chambers [January 2000]
    Danny Chambers
    January 2000

    Eve Gordon
    December 1999
    Barbara Niven [November 1999]
    Barbara Niven
    November 1999
    Bill Lucking [October 1999]
    Bill Lucking
    October 1999
    Richard Roundtree [September 1999]
    Richard Roundtree
    September 1999
    Pat Harrington [August 1999]
    Pat Harrington
    August 1999
    Robert Donner [July 1999]
    Robert Donner
    July 1999
    Top of page Return to Current Profile

    Email this Page to your friends(s)

    Back  Home