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SpoilerTV Interview with Ernie Hudson

     When a series regular in one show gets cast in a big role in another show, it’s normally cause for concern for the actor’s longevity on the first show. In spite of this commonly known fact, Ernie Hudson is beginning to change the game in a big way. Hudson is currently starring in major roles in not one, not two, but three different series. These series include APB, Graves, and Grace & Frankie.

     On FOX’s latest police procedural, APB, Hudson plays Sgt. Ned Conrad, a lifelong police officer who is quickly promoted to the role of captain when tech genius billionaire Gideon Reeves (Justin Kirk) takes over the Chicago police district where Conrad has worked all of his life. Reeves quickly revolutionizes the way that Conrad and the other police officers go about their day-to-day work.
     “He’s still totally dedicated as a policeman, but he also recognizes that there are things that are not working and, maybe, technology could be the answer,” Hudson said.
     When Hudson first joined the cast of the show, his role actually hadn’t been written yet, but said that APB’s creative use of technology interested him.
     “I read the script and I thought, wait a minute, if this technology was available to the police and to other public organizations, it could make the difference,” Hudson said.
     Outside of television, Hudson has been quite active in the real life police community, having previously served as a volunteer member of the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department for 15 years. The origin of Hudson’s volunteer time on the sheriff’s department might surprise a few people. Hudson was the victim of a mistaken identity encounter when he exited a hotel room and was surrounded by 14 cops that drew their weapons and quickly took him to the ground.
     “It could have gone very badly,” Hudson admitted.
     Luckily, one of the cops on the scene recognized him from Ghostbusters and he was quickly released. Following what Hudson described as a “bizarre incident,” he decided to learn a bit more about the world of a real life police officer by joining as a volunteer.
     “I began to see a little bit more of what they’re [police] dealing with which is quite difficult,” Hudson said.
     Hudson said that he turned in his badge after 15 years primarily because of the many stories he has heard of police misconduct. He also added that he thinks his experience with police is a large part of why he was drawn to APB in the first place. In particular, Hudson said that he was attracted to APB because of its positive outlook on bridging the gap between the police and the community.
     “In this particular case, I wanted to bring as much of my humanity to this character as I possibly could,” Hudson said.
     Most well known for his role as Winston Zeddemore of Ghostbusters fame, Hudson is extremely successful as a character actor. He said that because of the large diversity in the roles that he’s played, he normally doesn’t like to compare himself to his characters very much.
     “I take the script and the story and try to be true to that character,” Hudson said. “A lot of people who might have known me from Oz might not have realized that I was the same guy as in The Crow, or whatever, because the characters are specific.”
     When asked if he thought that Winston from Ghostbusters and Conrad from APB would get along very well, Hudson said that he thought of the two as polar opposites, describing Conrad as “by the book,” but Winston as “whatever, change the book, flip the book, I don’t really care.”
     He also acknowledged that despite the fact that he normally doesn’t like to compare himself to his characters, he sees parts of both Winston and Conrad in himself.
     On Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, Hudson plays the love interest of Lily Tomlin’s Frankie. Hudson said that he enjoys his role in Grace and Frankie because his character is just a simple guy.
     “I love his humanity because in a lot of the African American roles that I’ve been presented, it’s hard to see their humanity,” Hudson said.
     Hudson further argued that a lot of the roles geared towards African Americans in Hollywood are to portray something instead of portraying a person.
     On Epix’s Graves, Hudson plays a political mover and shaker by the name of Jacob Mann. Graves, starring Nick Nolte and Sela Ward, is centered around a former President (Nick Nolte) who begins to admit that he made many mistakes during his time as the country’s leader. Hudson described his character on Graves as a “shapeshifter that is so flexible he can accommodate anything.”
     Lastly, I had to take the opportunity to ask Hudson about his upcoming guest role in Showtime’s revival of Twin Peaks. In usual Twin Peaks style, I didn’t get much from him on that front. Hudson said that he would have worked on anything just to get a chance to work with David Lynch and even though he thoroughly enjoyed working on it, he doesn’t even know much about it.
     “They kept everything a secret even from us, except for the people you were playing with immediately,” Hudson said. “I’m as anxious to see it as everybody else because I had no idea what I was doing.”

APB airs on FOX on Monday nights and just recently wrapped its first season.
Graves airs on Epix and was renewed for a second season which is slated to begin in the fall.
Grace and Frankie airs on Netflix and was recently renewed for a fourth season which is expected to be released in early 2018.
The long awaited Twin Peaks revival is set to premiere on May 21, 2017 on Showtime.

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