Ernie Hudson is one of the most venerable and dedicated character actors with a career now spanning six decades. He stars in his latest film opposite his The Family Business costar Gary Dourdan in Saban Films' Redemption Day. The story follows war hero Brad Paxton (Dourdan), who must find a way to save his wife (Serinda Swan), who was kidnapped by terrorists. While battling his PTSD and with little help, Brad must find his way to infiltrate the cell before it's too late. I spoke to Hudson about the film, his relationship with Dourdan, working with director Hicham Hajji, and comparing the directing styles of Ivan and his son Jason Reitman for Ghostbusters.
When it comes to what attracted Hudson to Redemption Day, there were a number of factors, but primarily motivated by his wife's desire to enjoy Morocco. "I never been to Morocco, and my wife always talked about going to the same place as Casablanca," he said. "It was a big part of the motivation. I [also]really did like the script." The actor noted the role reversal, with Dourdin taking the lead compared to his BET series, where he plays his nephew on The Family Business. "I also found it interesting with world affairs, particularly between the West and the Middle East with those conflicts," Hudson continued. "Also, the idea of going in a situation to rescue someone you love and having a place to come back to. A major factor was the fact that my wife wanted to travel to Morocco, buy a rug, and ride a camel." The actor explained the bond between his character Ed and Brad.
"Whatever came out of the script because you want to be true to the story," Hudson said. "I have four sons, so the whole family dynamic thing is always playing somewhere within me. To have a son who's going through PTSD issues and wanting for him to hold himself together, and as a dad, you have to go through them with him. This unfortunate situation [kidnapping] comes up. I'm an ex-military guy as well, so I know what has to be done. You have to create that ground and that base to fall back to, because the kid and where he's at in the movie, he could unravel and never find his way back. I'm sort of that north star when it's all said and done. This is home. Your child is here, and we'll be good until this is resolved. I'm a fan of Gary's and love his work. The whole family dynamic is interesting from what I've don't in the past."
Hudson said he enjoyed working with Hajji and sympathizes with the director, who also acted as a co-writer and co-producer for Redemption Day. "Sometimes, when you have all those hats on, things can be intense," he said. "You want to support him and help him realize his vision. It's the concern I typically have when it comes to first-time directors is trust. It's a two-way street, and we can get to what we need to get together. He was open and flexible. Some directors aren't so open. It has to come organically. Even when you cast good people, you have to share. We're all here to get the job done. I just thought the director was very open. Sometimes there was a little maneuvering to get to that same place."
Speaking of directors, Hudson mentioned how it was an honor to work with Ivan Reitman for his two Ghostbusters films, given his body of work. "When I got to work on Ghostbusters, Ivan Reitman, you just really respect the work that he's done, his filmography and his talent, he said, "So you're there because of the respect for Ivan's work and all the things he brings with that, and it commands respect." When the opportunity came to work with Jason for his upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the actor couldn't wait to work with him after watching the younger Reitman grow up on the set of the original films.
"With Jason, who's a wonderful director, but you were there for him," Hudson said. "He's talented, and he has an amazing body of work, and I can only speak for myself. Before he was running around the set of Ghostbusters and he was in the sequel [Ghostbusters II]. I think everybody really wants to see him succeed. I have so much love and respect for both. He's one of those guys you want to be a part of what he brings. It's the work, and it's personal. Jason is the guy you just have fun working with. With Ivan, sometimes it's fun, and sometimes it's not." Redemption Day, which also stars Andy Garcia, Brice Bexter, Martin Donovan, and Samy Naceri, is currently in theatres, on digital and on-demand. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is slated to hit theatres on June 11.