In a recent conference call with Inside Blip, Ernie Hudson talked about the mystery, thriller “Doonby.” In the film, Hudson plays a blues bar owner who takes in a mysterious drifter. John Schneider plays Sam Doonby, the drifter with an uncanny knack for good luck — which may or may not have an adverse effect on everyone else around him. The film examines the impact of a single life and what it means when that life is removed just as suddenly as it appeared.
“Doonby” takes place in a sleepy little Texan town where not much is going on until a stranger appears in their midst. But whether the stranger is the cause of their travails or if he is merely the scapegoat for everyone’s fears is one of the mysteries of the film. Hudson plays Leroy, a blues musician, who just wants to play his music and give his wife the best life possible. He has a big heart and generous nature and he believes that everyone has the capacity for good.
While touted as a modern day “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Doonby” is perhaps more akin to a Stephen King story than a Frank Capra story. Both may share some mystical elements, but one shares the joys of discovering how much impact you may have on the lives of those around you. “Doonby” is perhaps not that story. Not everyone is as warm and fuzzy as George Bailey, after all.
For Hudson, the role was a chance to pick up the saxophone again and give it a whirl, as well as play a character who is a bit of a dreamer. Having played a series of heavy-weight characters in the 40 odd years spanning his career, Hudson is always delighted to have a chance to step outside the darker roles and play a character with such a love of life.
Hudson finds that in his own life he has been remarkably blessed. He has had a career that many actors would envy, including playing Winston Zeddemore in the “Ghostbuster” films and Warden Leo Glynn in the hard-hitting HBO series “Oz.” He has most recently appeared in the ABC Family series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” appearing as Dr. Ken Fields.
Hudson’s strength lies in his ability to cross genres and play both comedic and dramatic roles. But no matter what the role, you never forget the actor playing the character. The distinctive deep voice and looming presence makes Hudson stand out as an actor to be noticed and remembered.
Just like in the film “Doonby,” Hudson finds that life is an emotional journey in which one reflects on the value of our own lives and whether we will have an impact on the lives around us. For Hudson, he just wants to make a difference, sharing his insights and words of encouragement with others. He knows from personal experience that just being a part of people’s lives does leave a lasting impression.
Hudson vividly recalled that when he was a boy that his local church pastor was always reminding him that no matter how small or difficult the task, “do it anyway and the Lord will bless you.” While cleaning church every week was not exactly the way a young boy would want to give back and be blessed in the process, it did teach him the value of hard work. After all, life is really about the journey and it will reflect what you put into it.
Thus, each of Hudson’s film and television roles have reflected his passion, tenacity and appreciation for all that he has been given in this life. He knows that he has been blessed and he relishes every moment of it. He also tries to give back when he has the chance. Two wonderful opportunities that were afforded to him were to speak at the National Criminal Justice Association and the National Mentoring Children of Prisoners Annual Conferences. These public speaking opportunities allowed him to share what he has learned to younger generations. He appreciates that he is viewed as a role model for today’s youth as he wants his life to have a positive impact. For him, that is the most rewarding part of what he has done with his life.
So when Hudson read the script for “Doonby,” he knew he had to be a part of it. He loved the script because to him it emphasized the importance of relationships — how we connect with each other and influence one another. The film also encourages us to live in the moment and enjoy what we have; for life is unexpected. One must be prepared and yet appreciate all that we have been given — after all, life is a wonderful adventure.
Hudson hopes that movie goers will see the wonder behind the mystery of “Doonby” and discover the magic it has to offer.
“Doonby” is scheduled to be released later this year. “Doonby” was written and directed by British filmmaker Peter Mackenzie, and stars John Schneider, Ernie Hudson, Jenn Gotzon, Joe Estevez, Robert Davi and Jennifer O’Neil. For more information about “Doonby,” visit