Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I Ain't Afraid Of No Ghosts!: TV STORE ONLINE talks with actor Ernie Hudson about Ghostbusters, Weeds and his thirty year career


Actor Ernie Hudson from such films as GHOSTBUSTERS, THE CROW, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, CONGO, and WEEDS talks about his incredible career as well as his early days growing up in Michigan.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Hi Ernie...Thanks for your time today.    I know that you were born and raised in Michigan.  Could you tell me about growing up in Michigan and the types of things you experienced that made you want to become an actor?

HUDSON:  I'm from Benton Harbor, Michigan originally.   I'm sure that most people know that Benton Harbor was and still is one of the most economically depressed areas in Michigan.  When I was growing up there in the 1950's the city was doing well and thriving for some people.  I grew up in the projects, and we didn't have any money. Benton Harbor also  was very much a segregated city.  There wasn't really anyone around to sort of inspire you then.   Hollywood was like Mt. Olympus and even thinking about being in the movies was a million miles away for me.   When I was a kid I always loved playing good guys and bad guys with my cousins and my friends.  We loved westerns, and we'd act those out.  Then we had Easter plays and Christmas plays in church.  I was one of those boys that went to church consistently so I was always cast in those too.  I was raised by my Grandmother and she was very involved in the church.  We would go to church six or seven times a week.

I also had four uncles who were all very different from each other.  They all had their own unique weaknesses and strengths and I really loved to hear their stories.  I really liked the idea of telling stories too.   And I think that's were my interest in story telling and acting comes from.

Hudson in GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)
Growing up in Benton Harbor you just assumed that you'd grow up and get a job in one of the factories.  When I was in my Senior year in high school I got a job in a foundry.  I'd go to school until noon then go home and my brother and I would go to work at this foundry from like 2 p.m. until midnight.  My job was to shovel dirt.  I literally would work for hours in this basement and I would just shovel dirt all day long.  It was the worst.   I can remember one day when I was at the foundry....They came around and gave out these packets.  In the packet there was some information about retirement.   It basically said that if you worked for them for forty years you'd get four weeks vacation.    Then also, when it came time for me to graduate from high school the foundry wouldn't even give me the time off to attend.  I knew then that the foundry wasn't a place for me.

TV STORE ONLINE:   You left and went into the military didn't you?

HUDSON:  Yeah...A couple of friends and myself went over and signed up for the Marine Corps.   One of my friends couldn't pass the aptitude test and he didn't get in, but my buddy and I did.  I thought that joining the Marines was the way out for me.   It seemed like the perfect step for me because they paid for your education. and you got to travel the world.  But the problem I had was that I had Asthma.  I  developed Asthma when I was a kid, but it was never something that came up in any of the screening questions.  About two weeks in, I started to get these attacks and because of that I was discharged.  Oddly enough, once I left the Marines my Asthma went away and when I got back to Michigan I found myself not knowing what I was going to do next.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Once you got back from the military you decided to move to Detroit, Michigan?

HUDSON:  Right.  I had managed to get into college.  I went first to Highland Park for a semester.  I wanted to go to Wayne State University.  The deal with the counselor was that if I got good grades in Highland Park I'd be admitted into Wayne State.  The idea that I could be in college was so amazing to me.  I graduated high school with a 1.87 grade point average.  It wasn't because I couldn't do the work in high school it was because I was working in that foundry at the time.  My Grandmother who raised me was born in 1895, and she used to tell me that if I finished high school I could have a great life.  While that may have been true in 1895, it wasn't true in 1964. I wanted to go to college, and by the time I moved to Detroit I was already married and my wife was pregnant.  We got this little place off of Gratiot and Sylvester that was forty dollars a month.  I took some jobs. I tried to sell insurance, I worked in a couple factories and everything I tried, I failed at.   When I got into college I was allowed to take one elective and I chose an acting class.   Once I got up on a stage I felt like I was at home.

I had gotten a pretty good job while I was in college.  I went to work in sales for one of the telephone companies.  It was a really good job but I was awful at it.  They gave me this little green car to travel in, and I got sent up to Saginaw, Michigan for a while.   I'd go to businesses and install these telephone systems but I'd screw up the order and then the customer would get upset and call into the office complaining that they didn't have their phones.    One day I was driving into work and I missed my turn.  It was  a nice day out and I remember thinking to myself that I had grown up in Michigan but that I had never seen the capital building so I just kept driving.  By this time my brother had moved to California too. As you can guess, I lost the job, so I gathered my wife and kids up and we drove out to California.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What happened when you went out to California?

HUDSON:  When I got to California I just kept trying different things.  I took a job doing sales but nothing seemed to work out.  I just couldn't connect with anything.   My then wife at the time told me that I should pursue acting.  I told her that actors were always broke.  She just said, "Well you're broke now. What do you have to lose?"      So we went back to Detroit in 1968 or 1969, and I started to get involved in various theatres around Detroit.  Once I committed myself to the theatre I found myself making a living at it, and that's what I've done for the last forty years.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Going back to your short stint in the military...When you enlisted were you concerned about the possibilities of maybe having to go off to Vietnam?

HUDSON:   It was 1964 and that whole thing was just heating up.   There was no mention of it until I first got off the bus in San Diego for training.   But you could see that things were moving quickly in that direction.   They were cutting training times for guys down from twelve weeks to nine weeks, and after I was discharged my entire platoon was sent off to Vietnam.  I can still remember the day I got back to Michigan.  The bus had dropped me off, and I hadn't told anyone that I was coming back, not even my Grandmother.   There was a big field behind the projects where we lived and once the bus had dropped me off I had to walk through the field. When I got closer I saw my Grandmother outside and she was hanging up some clothes.  I walked up to her and told her that I was home, and she told me that she'd had a feeling that I would be back and that I should go inside and get myself some food.  I asked her how she knew that I'd be back and she said that she had prayed to God.

TV STORE ONLINE:  It's a good thing you never went off otherwise we may not have ever got to experience your incredible performance in WEEDS (1987)...

HUDSON:  Thanks for that.   I don't hear a lot of people talk about WEEDS.   The movie never really got a decent release.  WEEDS came to me after a lot of frustration.  I had done the first GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) film and where I thought that GHOSTBUSTERS was going to give me that big career bump it did the opposite for me.  I couldn't get hired on a movie after GHOSTBUSTERS. I couldn't even get arrested.  I did a bunch of television after that.   It was the way I found to make a living.  When WEEDS came along, I had just signed on to do a television series with Stephen J. Cannell. When I went in to meet with the director of WEEDS John Hancock and Nick Nolte, I knew it was something I had to do.   So I had to go to NBC and Stephen J. Cannell and ask to be let out of the series I had just signed on too and Cannell being the nice guy that he was let me out of it.  He was a wonderful guy and a good friend.  WEEDS never got seen really because Dino de Laurentiis and his production company who put the film together were on the verge of declaring bankruptcy and packing it all up in North Carolina and moving off to Australia.

TV STORE ONLINE:   For me WEEDS is all about your performance and that of William Forsythe.  Because of your background in the theatre....Was WEEDS a bit of art imitating life for you?

HUDSON:  Yeah it was great to be part of the company.   Actors in movies don't usually get the opportunity to be part of a company like they do in the theatre.  In movies, you meet another actor and you do a scene with them and then they are gone and you may never seen them again, whereas in the theatre you spend six weeks with the other actors rehearsing.  I've always found love in theatre.  With WEEDS we had a lot of rehearsal time, and  we shot it at various locations in North Carolina and then also at the Maximum security prison in Joliet, Illinois.     I'm still very close with many of the guys that I worked on WEEDS with.   I just saw Bill Forsythe recently, and we've worked together quite a few times since WEEDS.  I run into Nick Nolte occasionally, and one of my very best friends today is Joe Mantegna, who of course was in the film as well.



TV STORE ONLINE:  Then where did that "Baghdad" character come from inside of you?

HUDSON:  Whats interesting about that....I can remember Roger Ebert's review of WEEDS in the Chicago Sun-Times.   I remember he wrote about an "inmate" in the film that comes out and delivers this wonderful song....I was like, "I'm not an inmate...I'm an actor, at least you can mention my friggin' name!"   I wasn't that character, I was the actor who played him.  He was based on a actual person.  I never met the real guy but the director John Hancock did.  We had some similarities between us though.  At the age I went off to college, he had went to prison.  So I started to think about that.  I asked myself, "What if I had spent the previous fifteen years developing in prison instead of going off to college?  How would I be today? What would my mindset be today?"    I think that's the way characters are.  I think that any character an actor plays is really just a variation on themselves.   I think it's the actor in a different situation, different environment or different set of circumstances.  I can remember when I did the character in THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE (1992)....

Hudson and Rebecca De Mornay
THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE (1992)


TV STORE ONLINE:  Your work in that film is so amazing....

HUDSON:   Thanks...I can remember when I was younger and I'd be out picking fruit I used to latch onto these older men because I didn't have a father growing up and I wanted a father figure.    One guy, who I used to help out sometimes....I was picking some Cantaloupe and this guy who was a drunk was standing around and he was making some jokes and he kicked me and I fell backward onto the ground and was knocked unconscious for a moment.  When I woke up... The guy was standing over me concerned.  I was so angry that I ended up getting up and walking home. It was like thirty miles home.  But I thought about that when I was doing THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE.  Because what would've happened to me in that moment if I was more seriously injured?  What if I would've hit my head harder than I did and it left me mentally disabled?     Because if that happens you're still perfectly normal but you're stuck at the age in which that happened.    

TV STORE ONLINE:  With that character in WEEDS though...There is just such a particular intensity to him.  I mean he becomes completely unhinged and unraveled through the course of the film.....

Hudson in WEEDS (1987)

HUDSON:  Right.  I had a good friend who I grew up with.  We were close up until a certain point.   The other kids would make fun of him and call him "Black Marvin".    Plus he was adopted too and he knew that he was adopted.  He was very troubled and he was always getting into trouble.  When he was fourteen he ended up robbing someone and he ended up getting sentenced to ten years in prison.  This was a fourteen year old kid that was sent to an prison for adults.

After about five years he got out and came back to town.  He was always a little odd and he never really fit in.  He tried really hard though, but he just couldn't connect.  There was a girl that he really liked.  He started going to her church, and he did something and she ended up yelling at him and he just unraveled and unloaded.  He did exactly what that character in WEEDS did and he ended up going back to prison.   He's been in prison his entire life now.  He gets out and goes to rob a liquor store and then waits for the police to come and arrest him and goes back into prison.  He didn't know how to act in society.   That is Baghdad in WEEDS.  He meets this fantasy girl and she understands him and accepts him but he doesn't understand how to act because he's never known that type of life.  There's something very vulnerable about him but he just couldn't cope with not knowing what to do in society.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Going back quickly to that character that you played in THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE "Solomon".....I've read where you've said that you thought that he was a better person than you were in life....So leaving a character like that behind as the actor at the end of shooting...Does it improve you after you've finished playing him?

HUDSON:  Yeah for sure.  But I also think there is an element of each character that an actor plays within themselves.  No matter how dark the subject is...Its always there inside of yourself.   As an actor, you have to find that place that's already in you and magnify it.  Solomon had a certain innocence and a genuine concern for that family and of course we strive to all be good people like that.  I can remember when I was first starting out....I was playing Jack Johnson in The Great White Hope on stage in Minneapolis.  I did it for a couple years firstly in Minneapolis then later on in Los Angeles.

Hudson in
THE HAND THAT ROCKS
THE CRADLE (1992)
Th character in Hope was so dynamic and so amazing.  When I would play that character and walk out onto the stage I could just feel how much women loved that character.  You could feel it coming at you from the audience.   I wanted to hold onto the character off the stage even when the play was over because he was such a chick magnet.  I almost didn't want to go back to being Ernie Hudson.  But we all have the capability to be Jack Johnson within ourselves. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  When a character leaves you do you find that they can return and come out of you when you are least expecting it?

HUDSON:  Of course.   Yeah they do come out at times.   Also, you find out things about yourself that you didn't know before you played the character in the first place.   I mean, I'm capable myself of all types of things.  I did this character in this film called BUTTER (1998)...and I was being very pushy and rude to people and I was cutting people off in mid sentence because I could, and that's not really me, but yet I'm capable of doing that.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Then how much of you is in that character that you did in that wonderful Tales From The Crypt (1989-1996) episode where you played the psychotic circus performer "The Great Zambini"...

HUDSON:  Oh man....I had a real hard time working with the director on that.   I saw that character in a particular way and the director [Rodman Flender] saw him a different way.

Hudson as "The Great Zambini"
in Tales From The Crypt 
TV STORE ONLINE:  I think what you're doing in the episode is brilliant.  I watch it now and for me it comes across as if you're projecting James Earl Jones on acid or something...

HUDSON:  (Laughing)  The character in the script was originally supposed to be this 350 pound white guy with an eating disorder.   It opened up with this 350 pound guy cooking all of this food and eating it in a very gross way.    So when they cast me....I'm not a white guy and I'm not 350 pounds.  The make-up was weird.  It wasn't really a clown make-up it was more Zulu like.   I wanted to go further in certain ways but the director saw the character going someplace else.   But he was a very fascinating character.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I still love your cameo as the "The Tennis Captain" the angry police chief on The Ben Stiller Show (1992-93) too...

HUDSON:  I can remember doing that...But I've never seen it.  Ben [Stiller] was fun to work with.  I remember at the time that my agent was telling me how hot this television show was going to be...laughing    I run into Ben every now and again but he yet has to cast me in one of his movies...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm a little ashamed to admit to you that until recently I had never seen your work in EVERYTHING'S JAKE (2000) and A STRANGER IN THE KINGDOM (1999).   Those are amazing performances....

HUDSON:  Thanks!  I really enjoyed working on both of those films.   For EVERYTHING'S JAKE...I got that script sent to me from two kids who had just graduated from Syracuse University.  I really thought that they had ripped some poor guy's story off.   But they had actually wrote it, and I really liked that character.    Growing up poor myself...I didn't see my situation that way.  That is how the character of Jake sees his situation.    He's a guy who is homeless and living on the streets of New York City but he doesn't see his situation as a bad one.  When I was researching the character I went to New York City and I had decided to leave all of my money and identification at home and I decided that I'd live on the streets myself for three or four days but I only lasted for like ten hours.  It was cold out there.   I did end up talking to a bunch of people and I went and visited some homeless shelters.  We have a misconception that life stops for someone who is homeless, but it doesn't.     The guys who made the film were really fun to work with but I don't think they really understood the business behind releasing a film. I don't think they understood how to market the film either because it ended up slipping through the cracks.

With A STRANGER IN THE KINGDOM....I just thought the director [Jay Craven] had too many stories he was trying to tell.  I did like that character though.  It was based on a true story as well.   He was a African American minister in the 1950's that moved his family from South Central Los Angeles to Vermont to make a better life for them.  Of course, because he was an outsider and because of the color of his skin, someone accused him of having sex with his white maid and they ended up putting him in jail and running him out of town.  There's now a plaque in the town where it actually happened telling the story of this guy.



TV STORE ONLINE:  I don't want to spend too much time talking about it, because I know you've been asked so much about it in the past....But I'm a huge fan of THE CROW (1994)....

HUDSON:  Me too.

TV STORE ONLINE:   I went back and took a look at the film recently and I noticed so much hurt and sadness in the eyes of your character...How did you find that "Sgt. Albrecht" character?  

Brandon Lee and Ernie Hudson in:
THE CROW (1994)
HUDSON:   I love the scene where Brandon [Lee] and I are talking in my character's apartment.   Brandon loved that scene too because he could actually act and didn't have to worry about being part of a action sequence.   He was really happy to be working in that scene.    I don't know what to say.  I think life sometimes just doesn't work out for some people.   I really liked that character though. He was genuinely a good guy and he was really bothered by the deaths of those people.  But there's something about that movie that's very dark, but yet it has this very warm light to it.  I think that Brandon brought that to it.  

It's funny... Because Father's Day was a few days ago...I was thinking back to when my kids were little and I used to tuck them in at bedtime.  Now they're grown up and because I didn't have a father myself or that type of role model... I don't know this part of it now, and I don't understand this stage.   I think that Albrecht was like that too.  He's a cop that's lost his wife and he hasn't been promoted because he's always trying to do the right thing.  So he doesn't know what to do next.  He was a sad character, but sometimes life just feels that way.  I have to be careful myself, because sometimes I'll indulge in that type of thinking as well.  When I think back at my own career, or when I get on a show now and they don't want anything from me other than to deliver the lines in the script....I don't understand  that.  It's frustrating, because I can give so much more to the project.  I want to bring so much more to the characters that I'm playing.    It's frustrating as an actor because you want to be creative but yet you want to stay busy so you really can't turn anything down.   So you have to turn to writing to be creative.

GHOSTBUSTERS T-shirt
Available At TV STORE ONLINE
TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you have any films in you as a writer?

HUDSON:   You know I did The Great White Hope on stage over thirty years ago.   It was such a life changing experience for me.  I think it was the best thing I've ever done.  Even when I was researching it I was totally fascinated with Jack Johnson, the real guy.   When I was researching it I realized that the play was a fictionalized account of his life.  His real life is much more interesting than the play.   I have always wanted to tell his life story.   Over the years I have thought about it, but as I've gotten older... I can't really play Jack Jones the young boxer.  So I started writing a one man show that takes place at the end of Jones life.  He died in a car crash at age 68.  He was only a year older than I am when he died.   We've taken this out and tested it but it's on hold for now.  We've done it here in Los Angeles and we've done it in Colorado and Pennsylvania as well.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  What else do you have in the works?

HUDSON:   I just did a boxing movie for this wonderful young filmmaker. I've worked with him [Win Edson] before on a film called THE DINNER DATE (2012). This new movie is about a boxer who had this one big fight thirty years ago but he can't let it go now.   I'm starting a baseball movie called HIGH AND OUTSIDE (2014) in July with a friend of mine, Phil Donlon.   He directed me in a film called THE MAN IN A SHILO (2012).    I'm also working on this fun series for Starz with the creator of The Walking Dead (2010-Current), Frank Darabont, called Lost Angels (2013).  It's about the crime syndicates in Los Angeles.    I also just did a movie with Hilary Swank and Josh Duhamel called, YOU'RE NOT YOU (2013) where I play a man with Lou Gerhig's disease.   It's a great script and a great cast.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Is there any chance you'd be interested in developing a musical version of SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE (1983) with me?

HUDSON:  (Laughing)... You know that movie has such a following!   It is an odd movie.

TV STORE ONLINE:  If you added in Michael Jackson you'd have a long form CAPTAIN EO (1986)...

HUDSON: (Laughing)...I don't think Peter Strauss is happy to be in that movie either...


Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray
and Dan Aykroyd in GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)



TV STORE ONLINE:    Working on SPACEHUNTER was probably the first time you had met Ivan Reitman, right?

HUDSON:  That's right....Ivan acquired the film from Director/Producer/Writer Jean LaFleur.  He had been fired off the show by Columbia Pictures and Ivan came on board to finish it. Harold Ramis is in SPACEHUNTER too.  It was funny, because working on SPACEHUNTER almost cost me my role in GHOSTBUSTERS because Ivan couldn't see me as anything else but that larger than life character from SPACEHUNTER...

TV STORE ONLINE: That sounds like what probably happened to you in that Chuck Norris film, THE OCTAGON (1980)...

HUDSON:   Yeah, right.  There was a lot of my character that was cut out of THE OCTAGON.  Working with Chuck was really great though..

TV STORE ONLINE:  Maybe you should refer to the film THE OCTAGON going forward as THE HUDSON GONE...

HUDSON: (Laughing)...Right, yeah...That's funny.   I had the same thing happen to me on a film I did with Robert Downey Jr. called HEART AND SOULS (1993).  I was completely cut out of that!  The director Ron Underwood called me up before it was released to apologize to me.  I still get residual checks for that though so I guess that's a consolation.

"Don't Cross The Streams!"   Hudson and cast from
THE GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)
TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you mind if we talk about GHOSTBUSTERS before I let you go?

HUDSON:  Of course...I'm at a very good place with GHOSTBUSTERS.   I'm very flattered that the fans care so much about that movie.  If someone would've told me thirty years ago that people that have seen the film would be turning their cars into The Ectomobile and that they'd be building their own Proton Packs, I wouldn't believe it.   With other followings for movies like STAR WARS or STAR TREK...Those movies have such a following because they are supported by their studio.  GHOSTBUSTERS has no support at all from the studio.    Plus, fans that grew up with the movie are introducing the film to their kids now.  I'm so honored to be apart of that.   Growing up in Michigan, and then moving to Detroit to do theatre...To have had the opportunity to be in movies,  and then to have had the opportunity to be in such a big movie was a life changing experience.

TV STORE ONLINE:   There has been so much written about the character of "Winston" too.  It's been mentioned that the role was originally conceived as a vehicle for Eddie Murphy but when he declined to take part, the character went from being in the script at Page 6 to first appearing in the script at Page 67...Why do you think Reitman and the others decided to cut down that character's part in the film?

Slimer T-shirt
Available@ TV STORE ONLINE
HUDSON:  I don't know.  I was told at the time that they did that because they needed to find ways to give Bill Murray's character more to do.  Bill was the money.  In the original script...Winston was the one who got "Slimed" in the hotel originally, and at the end it was Winston who originally thought of the "Stay Puft Marshmallow Man."   It was frustrating to me at the time.   And to my surprise too, they did the same thing to him in the sequel as well.  I don't know...It was frustrating because when I first took the role I thought I was going to be doing something specific and when it came time to shoot my role turned into something else.   We had rehearsed for three weeks before shooting even.   It was a hard adjustment for me to make.  My wife now (we weren't married at the time) had to talk me through it because I just couldn't make sense of it.  Even when the movie came out...I couldn't understand it.  There are four Ghostbusters but yet only three of them were on the billboards across the country.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I always thought it was because your character was positioned in the film as the straight man....

HUDSON:  For sure, and that was fine.  But I just couldn't understand why he had to be dropped out of so many scenes.    Of course, we couldn't discuss it either.  Ivan, I think, felt really awkward about the situation.  I don't know if I could've gotten through it if it wasn't for Harold Ramis, because he was the one that really helped me by talking me through it.

Behind The Scenes Photo from:
GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)
TV STORE ONLINE:  Silly fan question...How much did the Proton Pack weigh?  Was it difficult to maneuver around in it?

HUDSON:  There were two packs actually.  The first one was made out of metal, and then the other was made out of foam rubber.   We would wear the foam rubber ones when there was a scene where we had to run around or something.   The metal ones were really heavy, and after you had it on for a while it would start to dig into your side. It was very uncomfortable.

TV STORE ONLINE:    No doubt you've been asked to try on a fan made Proton Pack at one of these movie conventions?

HUDSON:   Of course...In fact, the only prop I kept from the original GHOSTBUSTERS was my jumpsuit.  I used to take it around to these movie conventions with me in fact.  I was in New Jersey at one of these shows and someone broke into my hotel room and stole it.    I told this story somewhere and this prop maker made me a replica jumpsuit that is identical to the one I wore in the movie and a Proton Pack.   I don't get the chance to wear the pack that much because I'm always traveling or working.  I tried to take it to a few of these conventions but the people at the airport freak out about it.  I would tell them, "Look, didn't you see GHOSTBUSTERS?  This isn't a bomb!"

TV STORE ONLINE:  Does your wife ever ask you to put on the Winston GHOSTBUSTERS outfit in the bedroom?

HUDSON:  (Laughing)....Oh No.  It might be fun though...But I think if I showed up wearing that I might be sleeping someplace else...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:   Last Question....Getting your start in Detroit as an actor and having this thirty year plus career...Has Ernie Hudson mastered his craft?  How have you grown as an actor since your days in Detroit?

HUDSON:  Well, I think if anything...I'm just easier about it all.  Have you heard the story about Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda?  Jane Fonda was working on a character and she was stressing out about it, and Henry just stopped her and said, "What are you doing?  Just act. It's not that deep..."     I think I've learned to rely more on my instincts and not worry so much about researching a character.   Back in the old days, I would need a couple days to get into a character.  Or I would try to get a character's vibe off of the costume I was going to be wearing.   I would worry about what the favorite color of the character I was playing was.  I think I'm just more relaxed about it today.  I'll still do my homework and my research for a character but I'm taking that information and relying on my instincts much more often.    Now I can be on a set playing an intense character and when the director yells "Cut!"  I can walk around and joke with people, but back in the old days I couldn't do that...I'd have to go off by myself and stay focused on the character.  I ate a lot of lunches by myself in those days.