Ernie Hudson will always be known to most fans as one of the original Ghostbusters. He appeared in the remake as a relative of Leslie Jones’s character and spoke out in support of her when she faced online trolls. Hudson is still a busy actor, as he told me about balancing three TV shows, including the new Epix original series Graves.
On Graves, Hudson Jacob Mann, the campaign manager to Richard Graves (Nick Nolte) when he was President. Now his wife Margaret Graves (Sela Ward) is running, while Richard sets out to correct all of the policy he regrets. We spoke with Hudson at an Epix party for the Television Critics Association. Graves premieres tonight on Epix. Ghostbusters is now on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD.
Tell me about your character on Graves?
Well, I play Jacob. He’s a good friend of the former president when he was in the White House. He was in with him all the time but he’s gotten very close to the family. He’s sort of a protector of the family, the kids, grew up with him. They call him Uncle Jacob. Now that the First Lady’s decided that she’s going to run for office, he’s a guy who is sort of watching him go through this transformation and trying to keep everything at bay, which is a very difficult job. So he’s a fixture but he’s mostly, where he used to be a Washington Insider, he’s still full time trying to keep a lid on all this craziness that the former president is going through.
Have you been interested in television for a while?
Yeah, right now I’m doing three different television series. I do Grace & Frankie on Netflix with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. I play Lily Tomlin’s boyfriend. I’m doing Graves which is coming out. I go to Chicago to begin shooting on the 14th of August, a new television show called APB. We’ll shoot 13 episodes. We did the pilot in March so they’ll probably all be airing around the same time and depending on the schedule, I hope I’ll be back. Of all of them, I’m really excited about the possibilities of this show because I think it could be a lot of fun.
How does it work with all three?
Well, they try to work together. I’m starring on APB so that’s my first commitment. Then if the schedules work out and my character on this one or my character on Grace & Frankie is recurring. Out of 13 shows on Grace & Frankie, I think this season I did seven of the shows. So I’m not there all the time anyway so they try to work it out.
If your character has been with Graves the whole time, Graves is just now starting to get more progressive in terms of social issues. Do you think your character kept quiet a lot during the Graves administration or did he not care where Graves stood on issues?
I think my character is one of those guys who see a lot of things and they keep it to themselves. He’s committed to the guy and he recognizes that for a person in his position, he’s not perfect but he’s my friend. You support your friends, even though some of the issues, he might personally have a different feeling but he’s not the guy. The guy is Graves so he’s committed to him.
The media is such a different landscape now than when Graves was President. How does your character handle things with Margaret’s campaign?
Yeah, her campaign is different. I think it’s more my character is there for her because their family is kind of his family. He’s really committed to helping them see what they want to see. He has a family of his own but that’s his job. This is what he does and what he’s always done, and he’s been doing it for a long time.
Did you do any research on campaign managers for Graves?
I met a couple. I do some work with Creative Coalition. Because I felt this one was really more about the dysfunctional relationship of the family and the relationship with Nick’s character and Sela’s character, we haven’t gone too much out into the political world. Most of the screwup stuff that the kids go through, I’m the guy that they call. I didn’t do as much research as I thought I was going to do.
I’m sure it was disappointing there wasn’t another Ghostbusters with all of you guys, but when you saw how they brought it back, were you excited about the new Ghostbusters for this generation?
Well, I always wanted the guys to get together. I know Harold Ramis wanted that, Danny wanted that, Billy not so much. For whatever reason, we never made it happen so that was disappointing. I was glad they moved forward with the franchise because I think the fans have been wanting something for a long time. I didn’t expect this incarnation but it did something. They asked me to be a part of it. I wanted to be a part of it to show my support. I think they did a good job and we’ll see. It’s such a part of our culture. I was in Texas last night and there was about 50 guys there in their ghostbuster outfits. There were four Ecto-mobiles, they’ve got the backpacks. So no matter where I go all over the world, they have these ghostbusters chapters. So it was time for something.
What can we expect from APB?
APB I think is going to be a great show. It’s police procedural but kind of futuristic, high tech billionaires taking over a police precinct.
But present day?
Present day but the this engineer who made billions brings in all these drones and modern stuff to fight crime. So I think it’s going to be some interesting ideas. Everything in the show though are things that are possible, are things that they’re doing. Some of the technology hasn’t been used in terms of policework but it’s there.
Does it have a chance to address current issues with police?
Yeah, hopefully it will in a very serious way.
You’re in it. Are there other African-American officers on APB?
Yeah, the cast is very diverse. I think any series regarding police in the community is very much involving, they’re going to address it. We did the pilot which is more about just setting up the premise but I can’t imagine them not. How they’ll deal with it, I don’t know. That’s the downside of being an actor. I’m waiting for the script like everyone else.