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Ernie Hudson says 'Ghostbusters' can 'get a little bit more complicated' post-'Afterlife'

"We go and trap the ghosts, and that's kind of fun, but why are the ghosts wreaking havoc?"

Ernie Hudson

Earlier this year, Sony Pictures confirmed that a sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife was in development from the returning creative team of Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan (they're also working on an animated series for Netflix). Rocking the apt codename of "Firehouse," the second installment in the softly rebooted franchise has been described by the duo as "the next chapter in the Spengler family story."

"I know that Jason and Gil have come up with a script, and I know the studio’s excited about it," Ernie Hudson (known for playing one of the original four Ghostbusters, Winston Zeddemore), told SYFY WIRE during a recent phone conversation centered around the midseason finale of NBC's Quantum Leap revival. "They’re talking about moving forward with another one. I haven't negotiated or heard anything definite, but I'm pretty sure that it's definitely in the works."

Afterlife, which haunted theaters around this time last year, effectively handed the Proton Packs over to a new generation of spirit-hunting heroes, led by Egon Spengler's two young grandchildren: Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). Naturally, the OG cast members — including a CGI Harold Ramis — made brief guest appearances for another climactic showdown with Gozer. In a post-credits stinger, Winston (now a highly successful and wealthy businessman) buys back the iconic firehouse headquarters the group lost years before. Perfect timing, too, because the old containment unit has begun flashing red, hinting at more ghostly mayhem in Manhattan. 

"Winston was set up in the last one to be an important part of moving forward," Hudson explained. "So yeah, I'm excited by that. I think it'll probably happen within the next few months. I’m pretty sure. So like everybody else, I'm waiting to see what the studio's come up with and what they come to me with. Assuming they will come to me. In this business, I never take anything for granted."

Describing his character as "a patriarch" for the next iteration of Ghostbusters (he's perfectly placed to take on a major supporting role as the wizened mentor), Hudson also explained how he'd like to see the next film evolve and add more layers and nuance to the 38-year-old franchise.

"There's a reason why we ghost-bust. We go and trap the ghosts, and that's kind of fun, but why are the ghosts wreaking havoc?" the actor mused. "I'd like to see him explore, ‘We're going to keep doing this, but there's something bigger going on, that's affecting our world.’ I'd like to see it tied into what's going on in the world. I have my own sort of ideas and theories. It kind of depends on how we look at ghosts, but they're fun and cute, and we trap them and we throw them in a containment unit. But what is really going on? Because obviously, you can't trap ghosts and just leave them there. I’d like to see it get a little bit more complicated. Still funny and all the above, but I think something else is going on. Hopefully, that’s something we’ll see, but in the meantime, it’s fun the way it is."

Ernie Hudson

However, it still bears repeating: nothing is set in stone. Even if Hudson isn't asked to take part in the Afterlife sequel (which... come on now, would be an absolute shame and wasted opportunity), the 76-year-old Hollywood veteran will continue to support the IP that made him into a cinematic legend.

"I love being a part of it. I love the fact that the fans continually ask about it," he admitted. "I was watching the news yesterday and there was a Ukrainian soldier, who, I think, made it out of Russia. I can't remember all the details, but he was so excited and he escaped with his guitar. When they asked him about it, he got his guitar out and he started singing an acoustic version of [the] Ghostbusters [theme song]. So the fact that it's touched people all around the world, I'm just so honored to be a part of it."

While Ivan Reitman (director of the first two Ghostbusters movies) died in early 2022, his legacy lives on through his son, Jason, who directed Afterlife

"I'm so happy to know that even though Ivan has transitioned on, Jason is still committed to seeing seeing it grow and stay alive," Hudson concluded. "When we did the first one, I couldn’t imagine we'd be having a conversation about it now ... I have actor friends who, like me, have been doing this for a long time and a lot of them don't have any specific thing in their filmography that [is this iconic] … I’m so happy that fans still relate to and it crosses generations. Little kids, discover it and love it and go out on Halloween in their Ghostbuster, jumpsuits. I'm just very, very proud to be part of it and very happy that it's going to continue."

The first eight episodes of NBC's Quantum Leap revival are now streaming on Peacock. The show will return for the latter half of its debut season Monday, Jan. 2.

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