How GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE Gives Winston the Story He Deserves

Ernie Hudson is one of Hollywood’s most prolific performers. But he’s likely best known for his role as Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters. Though fans love him and the role is undoubtedly an iconic one, Hudson’s experience of bringing Winston to life was less than picture perfect. In fact, it was a “devastating” experience.

In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Winston gets a new lease of life that seems to hint at the role Hudson always dreamed of. So with Winston and Hudson back at the center of the franchise where he belongs, let’s look back at the history of the character, what happened, and how Afterlife begins to make things right.

What Happened to Winston in the Original Ghostbusters Movies?
A still from Ghostbusters shows Ernie Hudson in the original 1984 movie, Hudson returns in the new film Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Columbia Pictures

Hudson’s sweet-hearted cynical everyman has long been a fan fave in Ghostbusters circles. But as the actor previously revealed, the original script centered Winston far more. In a 2014 Entertainment Weekly piece, Hudson explained his bittersweet feelings around the role. While he loved playing Winston, things changed drastically from script to screen. “When I originally got the script, the character of Winston was amazing and I thought it would be career-changing,” Hudson wrote. “The character came in right at the very beginning of the movie and had an elaborate background: he was an Air Force major… a demolitions guy. It was great.” After accepting a much lower rate than he wanted due to his belief in the role, Hudson headed to New York.

When he arrived, though, the script had been changed. Instead of arriving on page eight as a founding member of the crew, Winston was a late addition arriving on page 68. For Hudson, it was nothing short of devastating. “It was like my worst nightmare was happening,” the actor shared in the article. Despite pleading his case, he was told the studio wanted to give Bill Murray more to do and there was nothing to be done about it.

While Winston touched audiences everywhere, Hudson described the role as a “Love/Hate” thing, which is understandable. He thought Ghostbusters would elevate his career, and yet Hudson shared that he believes he lost more jobs than he got from it. It’s a heartbreaking truth at the center of one of the most beloved films of all time, and it’s something Afterlife seems to recognize.

How Does Ghostbusters: Afterlife Make This Right?
Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) grins with delight as she fires a proton pack, while Podcast (Logan Kim), wearing a pair of night vision goggles, cheers her on in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
Sony Pictures

While Ghostbusters: Afterlife can’t give Hudson back the opportunities that changes to the original Ghostbusters movie took from him, it does center Winston in the future of the franchise in a way we didn’t expect. The film reunites the original Ghostbusters, including the ghost of Egon Spengler. But while Peter Venkman (Murray) and Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) seem like quick cameos, the return of Winston is much more.

We learn about his family and his success as a businessman (it’s nice that we get to see he’s the most successful of the crew). It’s a glimpse of the backstory that we never got before, and the best thing is it’s not close to being the last we’ll see of Winston. In fact, the way that Afterlife ends seems to hint that Winston will be front and center of the franchise going forward, which is exactly what he deserves.

What Does Winston’s New Role Mean for the Franchise’s Future?

We’ve dug into this properly in our ending explainer. But to summarize, as the movie comes to an end we see Ecto-1 being driven back to New York. Then after the credits have rolled we get a final sequence. It shows Winston talking to Janine (Annie Potts) about his life after the Ghostbusters. But it also reveals that he has bought the Fire Station again. The Ghostbusters and their beloved Ecto-1 are back in their original home. And it looks like Winston will now be the one who is in charge.

The only question now is whether Ghostbusters: Afterlife will get a sequel. We’re hoping the answer is yes. For this wrong to truly be righted, we need to see Winston in his rightful place. And Hudson needs to get that role he’s been dreaming of all these years.

Featured Image: Columbia Pictures

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