How did you get Ernie Hudson, a Ghostbuster, in Adonis?
Ernie Hudson is in Adonis. I could probably stop the blog right there. That’s an amazing and true statement but I’m going to continue to slobber on about how incredible it was to have THE Ernie Hudson as part of the short film Adonis. When people find out that he is in the film, they always ask incredulously, “how did you get a Ghostbuster?” The short answer is: I asked.
The Roads in Lake Arrowhead Lead to Adonis
The longer answer starts with the Lake Arrowhead Film Festival (LAFF). In 2008, I made a feature documentary called Fort Roosevelt Requiem that played at the festival. The film actually won the Best Feature Documentary Bronze Award but the greatest thing about LAFF is that it is run by incredibly nice people. Everyone there treated me like family and I wanted to be part of it. I got to know many people in Lake Arrowhead including Mary Dippell, the festival director. I came up with an idea for a fun trailer that could be used to advertise as well as play before every film block. She and Jack Cooperman, A.S.C. rounded up three big LAFF supporters to be in the film: June Lockhart (Lost in Space, Lassie), Christopher McDonald (Thelma and Louis, Happy Gilmore), and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Oz, The Crow). Celebrities! With Jack serving as the Director of Photography and producer, we spent two fun days racing around the lake in a very fancy woody boat. [vimeo]https://vimeo.com/10540273[/vimeo]
The trailer was well received and played for the next two years. Ernie Hudson was at the festival and since Adonis was brewing, I casually asked him if he would be willing to make a cameo in a short film. How amazing would it be to have him appear in Adonis? He said “Sure! I’m very busy, though, so just let me know as you get closer.”
The next festival I saw him and asked him again. He said “Sure! I’m very busy, though, so just let me know as you get closer.”
Finally, I was getting closer. I had cast the main actors, James Snyder and Velinda Godfrey. The amazing Jimmy the Dog had already been cast for several years. We had a big audition to fill the movie with hot girls. The only thing that was left was to cast the Chick Magnet C.E.O. I left that open with the hope Ernie would appear. The role itself was tiny. He arrives in a silly truck wearing a silly uniform, delivers Adonis, and drives away. I was a little embarrassed, actually, to ask him to do the part. Ernie Hudson is a world famous Ghostbuster. He had thundering performances in Oz. He’s appeared in some of the most iconic TV shows like some of my favorites: Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team and Knight Rider. He’s worked with some of the most famous directors and cinematographers in Hollywood (including my mentor, Allen Daviau, on Congo). I could only dream of him appearing in Adonis but would completely understand if he didn’t want to do this little film. But, I asked. I was sure he would would say he’s busy but surprisingly he said “David, let’s do it.”
Ernie instantly raised the bar for Adonis. Being that he is a Hollywood celebrity, his appearance gives more legitimacy to the project and would certainly help the movie to get recognition. Beyond being a celebrity, he’s a powerful actor and I think he added a touch of magic to that little cameo. In my brief discussions with him about the role, I basically said he is probably a lady’s man who is now passing on his wisdom and tricks for those in need. His secret weapon is the chick magnet Adonis. The part could have been played cheesy. It could have been played sleazy. Ernie played it magically. First, his deep and smooth voice gives this character instant gravity. He treated the role almost like a wizard teaching his sorcery to an apprentice. The whole Adonis scenario mixed with the cartoon world became believable with him as the master. The scene in the film only lasts about a minute, but thanks to Ernie Hudson, that minute is very special.
For me as director, it was very exciting to work with a hot shot Hollywood actor. Because Ernie is such a great guy, working with him was a pure joy. He was great fun to have on set. He’s incredibly friendly and completely approachable. All of us got to geek out and take a photo with him. Ernie Hudson’s day on the set was definitely one of the highlights of the Adonis shoot.
Why would THE Ernie Hudson say “yes” to working on a little short film with an unknown director and uncertain future? I’ll have to have this conversation next time I see him but I have a theory: he’s a champion for independent film. He has been at the absolute top of the Hollywood food chain in huge productions. He has been at the top of stardom and is still world famous. He is always busy on major television shows and has big budget features lined up. But, he often still works down in the trenches in low budget movies. I think he loves acting and being a great guy, he wants to help others in the trenches who share his passion for filmmaking at all levels. Like his role as the Chick Magnet C.E.O., he is passing on his knowledge to help others. For everyone working on the film, it was a huge honor to have him be part of Adonis. His little role was really not small at all.