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Movie Talk: Ernie Hudson

Many recognize Ernie Hudson from an array of roles, from Ghostbusters to The Hands That Rocks The Cradle. The 67-year old’s latest film is Doonby, a mystery/thriller about a man who settling down in a small Texan town with the woman of his dreams. Hudson talks to JET about his character and more.

JET: In Doonby, you play Leroy, a guy with a heart of gold. How similar are you to the character?

Ernie Hudson: It’s great to play a role where you actually like the character and what he represents. He settles down in a small town with the love of his life, opens up a bar and hires various talents to perform at his bar. I personally identify with him, I try to lead my life in good will and faith just as Leroy.

JET: You are very diverse as an actor.  Which genre do you prefer?

EH: Realistically, it’s all work. I like all types of roles from comedy to drama. I must say comedy can be a little difficult when the jokes aren’t that funny, but as an actor you have to take every role as a duty. Whether it’s animation, reality TV or voice-overs, you have to put your personality aside sometimes. My role in Doonby is not comedic or serious; he’s a mellow man.

JET: What initially attracted you to the film?

EH: John Schneider and I worked on an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard together back in the 1970s and remained friends since then. Back then I had apprehension about doing the show because of the setting, and that Confederate flag, but John made it easier to want to be involved. Fast forward 30 years and I heard about the role in Doonby, I thought it would be great to work together again. The characters are all so genuine and the actors themselves are the same.

JET: How was it on set of Doonby?

EH: I personally have always enjoyed going on location to shoot a film. We filmed Doonby not too far from Dallas, in Smithville, which is a small town. We really got to know the locals, and most importantly the local Blacks as they opened up about their own history. For a couple of months we were apart of the community.

JET: The film’s  recurring theme is “Everybody Is A Somebody.”  How does that quote resonate in your personal life?

EH: I believe that everybody is indeed a somebody, but some people have to see themselves as a somebody for others to recognize them. It’s weird, I run into people all the time and they tell me about my career or how they love a role I played in the past and when I ask them about themselves, they often say “oh, I’m nobody.” That bothers me. The misconception that people have of themselves reflects onto others.  My mother used to tell me that God is everyone’s father, but everyone doesn’t know it. The film is a great reminder that everyone is someone of importance, just in different ways.

JET: What has been your best career decision?

EH: To totally commit to acting. When I committed to my goal, it committed to me. As a single parent when I first began acting, it was all about finding a balance in family and work. I have been through two marriages that both had their own dynamic that needed specific attention. As my boys got older and went and made their own families, I realized that they are committed men, just as I am. I made it my priority that if I told them that they must follow their dreams, I must lead by example. There is no back up plan when you have a main goal.

JET: What do you enjoy outside of acting?

EH: It’s funny when I play roles I become interested in the hobby of the character.  I played a golfer, and then I became interested in everything golf related. The same thing happened with boxing. Now I am focused on self-help and self-actualization. I am a spiritual man and a student of The Course in Miracles by Marianne Williamson. In this book, she speaks about growth and the following of simple beliefs. I was raised in the church as a child, and although I am no longer a member, I do stay in tune with many types of practices. When you pay attention many of the beliefs are the same, just different ways of implementing them.

JET: What is your ultimate professional goal?

EH: When I had a health scare I realized that I needed to accept what I have accomplished thus far and be satisfied with what has been granted to me day by day. Of course I want to win an Academy Award, but I have had a great career and I am grateful at what I am handed from day to day. I am working on being a light to people at work and in my personal life, and being the best man I can be.