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TV Legends Revealed: Ernie Hudson Lost Ghostbusters Cartoon Role?

TV URBAN LEGEND: Ernie Hudson auditioned for the role of Winston on the Real Ghostbusters animated series and did not get the job.

For kids growing up in the late 1980s, there’s a very good chance their first exposure to the world of the Ghostbusters was not, in fact, the popular 1984 film starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson, but rather the animated television series that ran from 1986 to 1991 (titled The REAL Ghostbusters because of a competing Filmation series called Ghostbusters, based on a 1970 animated series called The Ghost Busters). The animated adaptation, which was story edited by J. Michael Straczynski (who also wrote a number of episodes) was of a much higher quality than most cartoons based on films. As a result, it hung on for an extended run (five years is an eternity in syndicated cartoon series), although Straczynski departed after the first “season” of 78 episodes due to some changes made to the show (he returned to write a few episodes in 1990 before the series ended).

As is the standard custom for animated adaptations of films, the characters were not voiced by the actors who portrayed them on the big screen. Lorenzo Music voiced Bill Murray’s character Peter, Maurice LaMarche voiced Harold Ramis’ character Egon, Frank Welker voiced Dan Dan Aykroyd’s character Ray, and Arsenio Hall voiced Ernie Hudson’s character Winston. However, did you know that in an odd turn of events, Hudson actually auditioned to voice Winston? And he lost the role to Hall!

Hudson was already an accomplished voice actor before he starred in Ghostbusters, and to this day he continues to do voice acting (he is a regular on Transformers: Prime); he did the voice of Cyborg in the Super Powers animated series in the early 1980s.

In an excellent interview with Will Harris at The A.V. Club, Hudson opens up about how he lost the role in the animated series …

Yeah, I did, and it was funny, ’cause they said, “You don’t have to audition for the part, but the director wants to hear you read the material.” So I went in to read the material, and the guy said, “No, no, no, that’s all wrong! When Ernie Hudson did it in the movie…” And I’m like, “Well, wait a minute: I am Ernie Hudson!” [Laughs.] So when I left, they said, “No, it’s not a problem, you’re gonna do the voice.” They called me about it—I was shooting a film; I can’t remember what film I was doing—and then I never heard anything from them. Then I found out that Arsenio [Hall] was doing it. I was very busy doing other stuff, but I was really disappointed because the thought of someone else doing Winston was not something I felt great about. Arsenio’s a friend, so there’s no disrespect to him. But they had me come in and read, and even though they said I wasn’t auditioning, I dunno, I guess I was just there to have the director get on my nerves. Who knows what happened there? Whatever the case, I didn’t get the part. Unfortunately.

It certainly sounds like something other than “he wasn’t right for the part,” but whatever the reasons, it is still utterly bizarre. Be sure to read more from the interview to hear Hudson’s fascinating thoughts on his frustrations with the Ghostbusters franchise!

The legend is …


Thanks to reader Charlie L. for the suggestion! Thanks to Will Harris and Ernie Hudson for the information!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is

Be sure to check out my Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the worlds of TV, Movies and Music!


  • Glenn Simpson

    Oddly enough, I was watching a thing the other day about Filmation and JMS worked for Filmation.  So it sounds like JMS worked for Filmation, then went on to work on a show that had to change its title because of a Filmation show.

  • Mikeam1978

    All the roles they touched on in that interview, and no mention of Washington from “Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone.” Haha! I love him in that movie, and when I met him at ComicCon in 2006, he was surprised and delighted to see I had a pic from it for him to sign. I’m glad he loved doing “Congo” so much, too. Gets tons of flack, but it’s a fun movie and he totally owns it.

  • Super Havoc

    WTF was that about? Why have him do all of that only to hassle him? Also, was this director stupid or something?

    And even though I watched this show growing up, a great cartoon btw, I never knew Arsenio Hall did his voice! lol

  • Shortdawg

    On the bright side, I’m sure if Disney ever does a heartwarming cartoon of HBO’s “Oz,” there’s no doubt in my mind that Hudson will get first crack at reprising his role as the warden. (“Be yourself.” “Follow your dreams.” “Stay out of maximum security prison.”)

  • Drew_Melbourne

    My favorite bit of Ghostbuster’s voice trivia is that Lorenzo Music-Bill Murray thing. (Music was the voice of cartoon Venkman and cartoon Garfield. Murray was the voice of live action Venkman and, many years later, live action Garfield.)

  • Elias Algorithm

     Yep. But The Ghost Busters really only existed to give Larry Storch something to do. And never let it be said that Lou Scheimer let the grass grow under his ass. One can hardly blame JMS for taking advantage of the studios not adopting exclusive contracts.

  • Elias Algorithm

     “Yes, he’s the Yellow M&M, but he’s not packing peanuts”

  • Elias Algorithm

     And the sad thing is these days we have to explain that Garfield is supposed to be funny.

  • Alex

    I read Dan Akroyd had to buy the name ‘Ghostbusters’ from someone who owned it (the name) to use as a title for the movie (which he wrote). Maybe I’m wrong. I didn’t want that other cartoon, it had some ape with a camera or something. Bizarre.

  • Alex

    I’d love to up to Molly Ringwald and say ‘I loved you in Spacehunter: 3D’

  • Reno

    Interestingly, Lorenzo Music was also the voice of Garfield during this period. And years later when Garfield was made into a live-action movie, he was voiced by Bill Murray. Was this just a coincidence or were the producers aware that Music and Murray have similar voices?

  • Squashua

    I will never not be wigged out by the “Bill Murray – Peter Venkman – Lorenzo Music – Garfield” thing.

  • Ltmarvel

    Small correction. 1970s GHost Busters was a live action show.

  • darthtigris

    Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give it up for Mr. Ernie … HUDSON!


  • Lyle

    I recall really liking the Ghostbusters cartoon, in some ways more than the movies. The cartoon did a wonderful job of explaining the reason each character was there: Egon was the genius leader, Ray was a techie guy (who, I will admit, was written as being a lot more child-like than he was in the movies), Peter was the clever smooth talking wiseguy, and Winston was the everyman with more common sense than the rest of them. I find it interesting that Ernie Hudson pretty much embodied that not because of the Ghostbuster scripts, but because he’s Ernie Hudson and you get the feeling that this is what he is.  It’s odd that he did not get the part, but, then again, none of the actors from the Marvel movies played any of the Avengers in the Avengers cartoons, but that was probably more due to the fact that it would cost a ridiculous amount of money to get any of them (especially Robert Downey Jr.) to pretty much just do voice overs. I also recall not liking the second Ghostbuster movie, not just because it was a repeat of the last movie, but because it contradicted the continuity of the cartoon, which is probably silly for a kid to be concerned about.

  • demoncat_4

    talk about eerie   ernie originates the role of winston only to lose out doing the animated version of the character to Arseino hall. even after being told he did not even have to audtion. at least he lost the role to some one cool like arsenio

  • Ryan

    So why were the appearances of the ghostbusters changed for the cartoon?  Did they not have the rights to use the likenesses of Ramis, Murray, Akroyd, and Hudson?

  • John Blaze

    This was a great series

  • Mak

    Was ht ORIGINAL Ghost Busters TV series a cartoon or a live action show? I recall seeing snippets of a live action show.

  • Lyle

     I honestly think they changed them to differentiate the main characters. If you think about it, Egon, Ray, and Peter were just pretty much 3 white guys with black hair, so changing their hair colors I think helped to better clearly tell who each character was

  • ROM2099

    The Ghost Busters show of the 70’s with Larry Storch was live action, not animated. It was resurrected as a cartoon after Ghostbusters was such a success.

  • Kenshiroh

    According to the DVD extras, at the audition, the actors were specifically told NOT to do impressions of the original actors from the movie. (Not knowing what else to do, Maurice LaMarche ignored that advice and did a Harold Ramis impression.)

  • Kenshiroh

    FYI, after Arsenio got his own talk show, Buster Jones took over the role of Winston.

    The executive meddling that caused JMS to quit could fill another “Legends Revealed” column. These changes include (but are not limited to) the following…
    – The shape of Janine’s glasses was ordered to be changed from pointy to round because the pointy glasses might frighten children.
    – Winston (the only black Ghostbuster) would now be the only one shown driving the car.
    – Lorenzo Music was fired after Bill Murray commented that his animated counterpart did not sound like him. (This was because the voice actors were specifically instructed NOT to do impressions of the original actors!) Lorenzo Music was replaced with Dave Coulier doing an annoying Bill Murray impression. (And as others already pointed out, Bill Murray took over for Lorenzo Music as the voice of Garfield)

  • rodney

    I remember the original Ghostbusters in its original early 70’s run, it wasn’t animated, it was live action. They did use a camera to capture the ghosts, but that’s about all I remember about it. I know I enjoyed it as a small child, I’m sure it wouldn’t hold up now.