Ernie Hudson Wants Quantum Leap’s Sam Beckett to Return, Ghostbusters Sequel Is a ‘Whole Other Level’

Serguei Bachlakov/NBC

Ernie Hudson is a busy actor with a lot of current and upcoming projects. He’s known to many as Winston Zeddemore in the Ghostbusters franchise, and soon he’ll be tackling the revival of the sci-fi TV show, Quantum Leap, as Herbert “Magic” Williams.

Magic is a character from the original Quantum Leap series who first appeared in season 3’s episode, “The Leap Home, Part II (Vietnam).” The episode first aired back in 1990 and followed Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) as he leaped into Magic, a U.S. Navy man and a member of Sam’s brother’s platoon. Fast forward 32 years later, and fans will get to see the return of Magic as he runs a team that’s trying to figure out what happened to physicist Ben Song, played by Raymond Lee, after he made an unauthorized leap. In this world, Dr. Sam Beckett has been gone since 30 years ago.

We had the chance to chat with Hudson about Quantum Leap and Ghostbusters. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Nerd Reactor: I read in an interview where you’re talking about Ghostbusters, and Quantum Leap. Both are projects where you have different generations of people watching them. How cool is it that these projects speak to everybody?

Ernie Hudson: Yeah, To me, it’s really important. You know, I’ll see Ghostbusters fans who will tell me it’s the first movie they ever saw – they saw with their dad. And now they have children and share with their children. I’ve been in the theater, and I’ve seen senior citizens with their great-grandkids, and everybody’s laughing at something. So that’s a great thing. There’s not a lot in society that we can kind of come together over. And I think Quantum Leap is also one of those projects, now that we’re doing it, people will come up to me and say that’s the show they saw as a family. They would sit and watch and it’s something where everybody can come on, have a conversation and have an opinion. It’s something that we can all come together over. That’s pretty exciting because especially at this time, I think we kind of need that.

Quantum Leap Raymond Lee

Nerd Reactor: Can you tell us a bit about your role and the show?

Ernie Hudson: In the original series, it was mostly about the two guys. Sam would leap and then Dean Stockwell’s character was the hologram that helped guide him through. So each episode was a different leap. Now we have Raymond Lee, who’s an amazing actor – plays Dr. Ben Song, who leads a team, but he gets trapped in the quantum system.

The Quantum Leap project had been shut down. And it’s taken a lot of effort to get the Pentagon and everyone to agree with the investors to really put the money out and the resources to get this project back up for the potential that it can do, I mean, to be able to step back into the past. And so a large part of that is I run the team that put this thing together and responsible for keeping it up and keeping it going and having to answer to the military and the business community and on all the people who want to shut it down and all the people who want to take advantage of it. So all of that is at play as well and people who want to compromise it and want to hack it. How do you keep the quantum system going? Yeah. And the ones who leave, that’s a whole other set of issues. But they’re not necessarily aware that someone can pull the plug.

Nerd Reactor: For your character, he existed before on the previous show, and it’s a return.

Ernie Hudson: Yeah, there are a lot of Easter eggs. So yeah, he has experiences that changed his life. And it’s troubled him. He’s a military guy. Once he made Admiral, he began to look into it. This is a project that means a lot to him. And of course, when the last series ended, and they shut the project down, Sam Beckett is still out there. He never made it back home. And so one of the things that’s really important is how do we get him back? So, that’s all that is.

Nerd Reactor: With Sam out there, people are going to be asking questions like, “Is he going to be back?” I know you can’t say anything about that on the show, but what’s your personal theory?

Ernie Hudson: To not say anything negative, one of the things that kind of disturbed me was how they kind of left him hanging there. But I’m glad we get a chance now to come back into it. I would be beyond thrilled to see that happen. Whether it happened, maybe the producers and writers and studios know something I don’t know. But as far as I know, I have a feeling that if they could get Scott Bakula to show up, everybody would be extremely excited. I don’t know. I’m sure there have been discussions, but where that is, I have no idea. I’m not part of that, but I would love to see that, and I know the fans would love to see that happen as well.

Were you researching this character, or did you know Magic?

Yeah, you know, actually I do remember because like I said, I did watch a lot of the show. I didn’t watch every episode, but I watched a lot of the show and I remember this particular connection. So yeah, it’s pretty exciting. I have four sons who are all grown now, but they’re all excited about it. The better news is now that I’m a part of it, I’ve been working on it. It’s a great writing team and producing team and the sets are amazing. I’m going to say it’s great and really mean it. I think fans are going to be very happy about the show.

Ghostbusters is another franchise loved by fans.

Yeah, you know what it took how many years to even do a sequel. It has been 30 years. I’m so happy. I talked to Jason Reitman. They’re writing a new one. This one is going to just take that to a whole other level. I think the last one really played homage to the first two movies. But now it’s time to see that universe. Yeah. And I’m excited about that. And I’m hoping the character will be a part of it.

Oh, yeah. Because in the last film, it was a small part at the very end. I was like, “I want more of that. More of you and the team.”

Yeah. I think it’s really so exciting. And for those things that like I said that we can come together on because there’s stuff that you know, my kids love. I’m like, “Dude, I don’t want to look at that. Good luck with that. I’m not spending an hour on that.” But we can find those things that we kind of go, “Yeah, we can come together on. It’s really kind of cool.”

And there’s another Ghostbusters project, Spirits Unleashed, which is a video game.

Oh yeah, that’s pretty cool. Everyplace all over the planet, they have their version of the ghosts and you know other lives. So the possibilities are really endless. It just depends on how they do it. It’s unlimited. So I know the video game, I know they’re talking about a new movie, and that franchise can really grow and I hope it does.

About Quantum Leap

It’s been nearly 30 years since Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now, a new team, led by physicist Ben Song (Raymond Lee), has been assembled to restart the project in hope of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it.

Everything changes, however, when Ben makes an unauthorized leap into the past, leaving the team behind to solve the mystery of why he did it. At Ben’s side throughout his leaps is Addison (Caitlin Bassett), who appears in the form of a hologram only Ben can see and hear. She’s a decorated Army veteran who brings level-headed precision to her job.

At the helm of the highly confidential operation is Herbert “Magic” Williams (Ernie Hudson), a no-nonsense career military man who has to answer to his bosses who won’t be happy once they learn about the breach of protocol. The rest of the team at headquarters includes Ian Wright (Mason Alexander Park), who runs the Artificial Intelligence unit “Ziggy,” and Jenn Chou (Nanrisa Lee), who heads up digital security for the project.

As Ben leaps from life to life, putting right what once went wrong, it becomes clear that he and the team are on a thrilling journey. However, Addison, Magic, Ian and Jenn know that if they are going to solve the mystery of Ben’s leap and bring him home, they must act fast or lose him forever.

Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt will write and executive produce. Don Bellisario, Deborah Pratt, Ryan Lindenberg, Robert Hull and Martin Gero executive produce.

Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, will produce in association with I Have an Idea! Entertainment, Belisarius Productions and Quinn’s House Productions.

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