(AOTN) We recently had a chance to catch up with one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors, the legendary Ernie Hudson. We spoke about a variety of different topics including his current projects “APB” on FOX, which has unfortunately been cancelled, “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix, and the EPIX drama “Graves”, as well as, the type of roles he would like to tackle in the future.
Q: There have been quite a few amazing episodes of “APB” airing recently. How do you feel about the way the series is resonating with viewers?
ERNIE HUDSON: I never know about these things and because of the age we are living in I thought it would definitely resonate well with viewers and people who have seen the show respond to it, but it seems like it has found its’ audience and I’m not quite sure how that happens, but everyone I know that has seen it seems to really like the show.
Q: As you continue to explore the character of Ed Conrad and the fact that you have taken on so very many different types of characters over the years, is there anything you are surprised to learn about yourself as you delve into playing someone new?
EH: For me, this is the first character that I’ve played who is going through some changes and I, myself am going through some changes, not bad changes or anything like that, just getting older and adjusting to the brave new world because I’m realizing that yeah, things are different and things have changed and I’ve changed and I’m really quite fixed. I think that the character, is for me, at least in my head, the first character that I feel is feeling those things that I’m feeling.
You know, that guy who is just seeing the world shifting at his feet and he’s not quite sure what any of this means. I don’t know if that’s a sign of everyone is getting older, but it’s certainly a lot of what I’m feeling and a lot of what this character with the new technology and these young people and their ideas and you want to be the guy that’s on top of everything, but you are also the guy that is most in the dark at least in terms of technology. Even the things that you just take for granted, you know, he lives in the neighborhood he grew up in and it’s a neighborhood that’s really under served by the police, but even understanding his own neighborhood is confusing for him. All that the writers have to write and hopefully if we get a chance to come back they will get a chance to show that, so I think there’s a lot of wanting to be on top of things, but also knowing that the world has somehow become a different place and you wake up one day and realize it.
Q: Exactly! That is what makes the show so relatable, as a lot of us are going through those same thoughts and emotions while watching how technology is completely taking over … in some good ways and in some bad ways too.
EH: Yeah, and it doesn’t seem to be a limit to it. I mean, you can say that the people who hacked a bank account, oh … okay…. that was just one bank account, but they seem to be able to hack the whole world bank account. They’ve hacked presidential candidates email accounts, but they also seem to be able to hack everyone’s email accounts, so is there any limit to where this goes? They can go in and they can get into your everything! I read this thing about this new home stuff, like Amazon’s Alexa for example, where it stays on when you are not even there, and this technology even expands out to televisions and refrigerators recording, so where are the limits? I don’t know! It’s one thing if they record a few of my phone calls, but this is in the millions and billions and it can affect all of us, and is there any limit to this? Who controls the limits? That’s my confusion.
It seems to be bigger than we are and that the frustrating thing! Who is on top of this? Is anybody on top of it? It impacts all of our lives, talking about nuclear codes and stuff like that, what is to stop them from hacking that? Where does it end and that is what’s confusing to me.
Q: Absolutely! That is what is terrifying, as we always compare it to the Wild, Wild West where we are on these new frontiers, but there is nothing governing it at all.
EH: Exactly! If the guys governing it are getting hacked (laughs) and the identities can be stolen and changed and that is why it is like the Wild West. I believe we’ll get on top of it, but it seems to be growing, and it’s not like it’s a new thing and it’s static and we can catch up … it seems to be growing faster than we are!
Q: What are you most excited for fans of “APB” to see?
EH: It’s pretty exciting because earlier episodes we showed how this technology can be used to bring out the truth in a positive way, as we have a guy who is a billionaire and at least has good intentions and everything on the show is possible. It didn’t go into sci-fi elements, making up things that don’t already exist. The finale episode really started to show the darker side, that this technology in the wrong hands … in other episodes we saw a guy who has remorse for looking too deeply into certain things and taking advantage of that, but what about someone who doesn’t have that same kind of social responsibility? What happens to not just one or two of us, but how than can impact all of us and that can be a little scary.
I think that show … it’s very exciting. We don’t have to look very further than where we are to realize that there’s a lot of stuff going on and a lot of us would almost rather prefer to pretend it’s not happening, but it’s definitely happening and it’s cool and exciting in one way, but it’s also, like you said, the Wild West in another way.
Q: We can totally agree with that! You are currently working on “APB” with FOX and you have “Grace & Frankie” on Netflix and “Graves” on EPIX as well! Is it hard for you to switch hats between characters because the fact that you are doing this all at once is just amazing!
EH: Thanks! (laughs) It is kind of fun time for me, especially at this stage of my life, because I’ve kind of realized that I’m past the stage of really having to do things just because I have to do them, because the kids are in college and I have to pay the mortgage or the this or that. So you reach a point of ,wait a minute, let me just stop. Why am I doing this, I know it’s okay to do, but what’s the point? So, these three shows, especially, I like the characters and they’re very different characters. On “Grace and Frankie” I’m a guy who is a farmer, who is retiring and is a guy who feels good and likes himself and he’s comfortable with himself and just happens to like this woman cause she’s someone who he really cares about and while he was younger he might have chosen someone for different reasons, but now this is just about life. So, I like that guy … he’s just a good guy. In “Graves” it’s a character who not only has to maneuver and negotiate and compromise for his own mistakes, but he’s tied to this dysfunctional family and this former president, so he’s having to clean up their stuff, but he also always has to be on top of it so he’s a very smooth Washington guy. We are coming back for a second season and I’ll get a chance to explore that a lot more and it’s very different character than this sort of down-to-earth captain on “APB” who has issues the other just don’t have to deal with.
Q: You have definitely played some versatile roles throughout your career, obviously everyone talks about “Ghostbusters”, however we truly enjoyed your work in both “The Hand The Rocks The Cradle” and “The Crow” to name a few. All of your roles have been very different, and many actors find themselves typecast, however that never seemed to happen with you.
EH: Sometimes, and unfortunately for an actor, it’s what’s being presented to you. Sometimes the studios will see something you do and say ‘hey, he’s our action guy’ or ‘he’s our funny guy’ and they seem to have had difficulty finding just what I am, so I’ve had to go in and be the funny guy or the action guy or whatever in order to stay in the game because I haven’t had those things sort of tailor-made for me, but that’s the fun part of also being an actor when you have the role to play. You have to tell the specific story and you have to bring that out, what I loved about the character in “Congo” does not always work for something else, so I have to separate. I guess if the can find a way to slot you, than you would make more money (laughs). So, I’m still trying to find out where exactly I fit in all of this stuff.
Q: Is there any type of role or character you would like to tackle that you haven’t already? We were racking our brains trying to figure out what you haven’t done!
EH: For me, I’ve always saw myself as this guy who is the practical guy who goes to work, who does what he need to do, even though I’ve never had a job where I’ve had to do a 9-5 everyday I don’t think in my life, but I really like those kinds of people because maybe my voice or my whatever, you play these extraordinary characters with extraordinary being the guy in charge or maybe the guy who is the bad guy, but just that practical person I really haven’t had the chance to do that sort of thing. Maybe a person dealing with some real life issues, but just real life and to me, those are my heroes. The guy that gets up and goes to work despite of anything and I kind of look forward to that, but I’m always looking for a role.
I haven’t had the role that would devise my work, I mean, I’ve done a little bit of this and a little bit of that and people ask me and I’m like, ‘well, you have to take a number of performances to see what I’m potentially capable of doing’ but I haven’t had that kind of defining role like say, Jamie Fox had in “Ray”, like I don’t know how he ever topped that it’s so perfect for him. On stage I did the “Great White Hope” and played that Jack Johnson character and that was to me defining because it just taxed everything that I had and I really had to show up and perform. I haven’t had that kind of challenge in movies and TV yet, but I’m still looking.
Q: What are some other upcoming projects in the works for you coming up?
EH: No, I’m just really looking. I’ve been sort of walking away from a lot of stuff and a lot of people ask me to do things, but honestly I’m at a point now of ‘why do I want to do that?’ so I want a “role” and I want something I am challenged by and I want a story that’s compelling and I’m kind of looking for that. There’s “Angie Tribeca” with Rashida Jones and I love Rashida and I played her dad last season, so getting a chance to play with fun people who I really like and enjoy that’s always fun, but now there just has to be a reason to want to do it or else I would almost rather be home. I feel like sometimes I’ve been every place but home. I really want that role or those roles … I did “To Hell and Back” on TVOne and it was almost the retelling of the Job story and it was so much fun for me and I got so much out of that, unfortunately it was any type of show that was seen by very many people.
It is just finding those things that I really want to do and want to offer my fans and something you want to stand by as opposed to a fan coming up saying I saw that movie because you were in it and then you had nothing to do, so I want to be able to stand by the work. I want to choose work that demands more from me!