Did Ernie Hudson Lose Out On a Role in the Real Ghostbusters Cartoon That He Played in The Actual Ghostbusters Film?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Ernie Hudson auditioned for the role of Winston on the Real Ghostbusters animated series and did not get the job.

For a generation of kids growing up in the late 1980s, there is a very good chance that their first exposure to the world of the Ghostbusters was not, in fact, the popular 1984 film of the same name starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson…

but the animated television series that ran from 1986-1991 (titled The REAL Ghostbusters because of a competing Filmation series called Ghostbusters, which was based on a 1970 animated series called The Ghost Busters).

The animated series adaptation, which was story edited by J. Michael Straczynski (who also wrote a number of episodes) was of a much higher quality than most cartoon adaptations of films. As a result, it hung on for an extended run (five years is an eternity in syndicated cartoon series), although Straczynski departed after the first “season” of 78 episodes due to some changes made to the series (he returned to write a few episodes in 1990 before the series ended).

As is the standard custom for animated adaptations of films, the characters were not voiced by the actors who portrayed them in the film. Lorenzo Music voiced Bill Murray’s character, Peter, Maurice LaMarche voiced Harold Ramis’ character, Egon, Frank Welker voiced Dan Dan Aykroyd’s character Ray and Arsenio Hall voiced Ernie Hudson’s character, Winston. However, did you know that in an odd turn of events, Ernie Hudson actually auditioned to voice Winston? And he lost the role to Arsenio Hall!

Read on to see what happened…

Ernie Hudson was already an accomplished voice actor before he even starred in Ghostbusters and to this day he continues to do voice acting (he is a regular on Transformers: Prime). He did the voice of Cyborg in the Super Powers animated series in the early 1980s.

In an excellent interview with Will Harris at the AV Club, Hudson opens up about how he lost the role that he portrayed in Ghostbusters in the animated adaptation of Ghostbusters

Yeah, I did, and it was funny, ’cause they said, “You don’t have to audition for the part, but the director wants to hear you read the material.” So I went in to read the material, and the guy said, “No, no, no, that’s all wrong! When Ernie Hudson did it in the movie…” And I’m like, “Well, wait a minute: I am Ernie Hudson!” [Laughs.] So when I left, they said, “No, it’s not a problem, you’re gonna do the voice.” They called me about it—I was shooting a film; I can’t remember what film I was doing—and then I never heard anything from them. Then I found out that Arsenio [Hall] was doing it. I was very busy doing other stuff, but I was really disappointed because the thought of someone else doing Winston was not something I felt great about. Arsenio’s a friend, so there’s no disrespect to him. But they had me come in and read, and even though they said I wasn’t auditioning, I dunno, I guess I was just there to have the director get on my nerves. Who knows what happened there? Whatever the case, I didn’t get the part. Unfortunately.

It certainly sounds like something other than “he wasn’t right for the part,” but whatever the reasons, it is still utterly bizarre. Be sure to read more from the interview to hear Hudson’s fascinating thoughts on his frustrations with the Ghostbusters franchise!

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Thanks to reader Charlie L. for the suggestion! Thanks to Will Harris and Ernie Hudson for the information!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

7 Responses to “Did Ernie Hudson Lose Out On a Role in the Real Ghostbusters Cartoon That He Played in The Actual Ghostbusters Film?”

  1. ParanoidObsessive on March 13th, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Wonder if the director or voice casting agent or whatever maybe was friends with Arsenio and maybe pulled a few strings to get him the job instead of Ernie Hudson?

    After all, Arsenio was still relatively unknown at the time (most of his breakout work came later), so the steady work probably would have meant a lot more to him than it would Hudson (who, in the interview itself, admits that he was already working on another film when he found out). I could see a casting director who was a friend sort of greasing the wheels a bit.

    Either that, or I wonder if it might have been a case of Arsenio being willing to work for less pay than they would have had to pay Hudson, and that became a factor…

  2. “…but the animated television series that ran from 1986-1991 (titled The REAL Ghostbusters because of a competing Filmation series called Ghostbusters, which was based on a 1970 animated series called The Ghost Busters). ”

    “The Ghost Busters” was actually from 1975, and was a live-action series from Filmation, not animated. It starred Larry Storch, Forrest Tucker, and a gorilla named Tracy, played by Bob Burns.

  3. Travis Pelkie on March 15th, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Well, there WAS an animated version in the ’80s, because I remember liking it even more than the REAL Ghostbusters (monkey funny). I think from what I’ve read it was something where Filmation realized they had done something called Ghost Busters, put out the animated series as a way of capitalizing on the success of the movie, and then some sort of legal stuff went on and the big timey movie version stuck the “Real” up front so you knew they were the ones, man.

    Man, I wish the monkey one was on DVD.

  4. Yeah, sorry, the Ghostbusters cartoon (based on the live action 1970s series) came out in 1986.

  5. I bet Ernie Hudson’s agent priced him out.

  6. Michael Frank on June 5th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    The Real Ghostbusters was an ABC Saturday morning cartoon. Later it was syndicated, but originally it was not, it was a network cartoon.

  7. Travis, I am happy to say Filmation’s Ghostbusters cartoon (the one you want on DVD) is completely on DVD in two volumes! Also, the live action version is on DVD too! Enjoy! Nice to hear someone praise it, as it is a lot of fun!

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