Season three of The Family Business on BET+ premiered in October, and it is absolutely fire. The action picks up right where the previous season left off with cutthroat villains trying to destroy the tight-knit Duncan family.
Psychopathic Brother Xavier (played by Anthony Criss, better known as Treach from Naughty By Nature) has a broken heart that he feels can only be mended by murdering everyone in the phonebook with the last name Duncan. Meanwhile, billionaire businessman Alexander Cora (Steve Williams) hatches a plot to bring down the Duncan drug empire.
Veteran actor Ernie Hudson portrays the family patriarch L.C. Duncan, alongside Valarie Pettifrord, who plays his wife Charlotte “Chippy” Duncan. Together they prove to be a powerful king and queen reigning over a criminal enterprise immersed within the confines of their family drama.
The series is based on Carl Weber’s bestselling book series, The Family Business, about a Black family that seemingly earned wealth through their exotic car dealership in New York. Except, the Duncan clan’s three generations are all living a dangerous double life through their ties to the mob.
BET.com sat down with Hudson for a chat about season three, reprising the role of L.C. Duncan role, and a quick overview of the 75-year-old actor’s body of work, which includes returning as Winston Zeddemore in the upcoming Ghostbuster: Afterlife.
BET.com: Congratulations on season three of The Family Business. So, season two ended with thrilling loose ends. What can you share about what’s ahead?
Ernie Hudson: First, let me give Carl Weber and [director] Trey Haley a lot of credit because they managed to pull this together during the pandemic.
This family gets bigger than we've seen in the earlier seasons. Viewers are introduced to another of L.C.’s brothers. There's a lot of disagreement, a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of people with grievances. So the family is threatened from within and from without.
And we're introduced to some other characters, like the Irish mob. So, this takes the family from a national to an international playground. And so it just opens up a lot of possibilities.
BET.com: How does L.C. stack up against the numerous other characters you've played in your career?
Ernie Hudson: Well, I think in a lot of the work that I've done, and not just for me but a lot of African American actors, you play a character but you don't get to see the fullness of the character.
I used to go to schools and talk to the kids and make them honorary Ghostbusters. They would always ask, where does Winston (the Black ghostbuster) go? At first, I didn't understand what they meant. But basically, we don't know anything about Winston. He’s there, but we don't know if he’s married? Does he have kids? Where does he live? Whereas the other [white] characters, we got to visit their home and know more about their characters.
What makes L.C. different for me is we get to see him. We know his humanity and so, we know more about him. We get to see him with his family, with his grandkids. We get to see the complexity of his character.
BET.com: The show emphasizes the Duncan family’s bond. Hollywood historically portrays Black families as broken and dysfunctional. How important is it to showcase this look on TV?
Ernie Hudson: Very important. I know a lot of things happen in our community, and Hollywood has been very eager to show the dysfunction.
We haven't seen a [Black] family that operates from a position of power and who can make things happen. A family who are intact. The children have their issues, but you know, the parents are there. We haven't seen that before.
I grew up without a dad, and I meet so many people today who either didn't have a father or had bad relationships. But then I raised my sons and they didn't have those issues. We are so much more complex and diverse than Hollywood has ever given us credit for. A lot of people live in neighborhoods where they never see us, so all they know is what they see on TV and in films.
BET.com: After playing Winston in Ghostbusters, you went on to portray dramatic roles like the warden in Oz and now L.C. How did you evolve from comedic actor to these layered, more dramatic roles?
Ernie Hudson: Well, for me, it was a couple of things. And I hope it doesn't sound like I'm complaining, but I've seen friends who got locked into a genre, as action guys, and that’s all they’ve played. The interesting thing is when Hollywood wanted them, they paid them a lot of money. I was a single dad, so I was like, ‘OK, how do I get into the “paid a lot of money” category?’
I've always felt like I got to go in here and get this job. If it was a drama, and I'm auditioning, I better make somebody cry before I leave. If it's a comedy, I had to make somebody laugh. So I've always had to adjust.
BET.com: There's a great scene in season two where L.C. says, I ain’t afraid of no ghost. What's it like being an OG in such a globally popular classic like Ghostbusters?
Ernie Hudson: It was interesting for me being in that movie, which I was thankful to get the part. But I always felt the studio, which may or may not be true, made sure that I was set aside and not one of the real ghostbusters. Now, nobody would own up to that. They would say, ‘Oh no Ernie, it wasn’t like that.’
But what was interesting after the movie came out, a lot of kids would say Winston was my favorite character. Winston was actually one of the best-selling toys. Kids related to him, not just Black kids, but to my surprise white kids and Hispanic kids totally identified with Winston. I think that was because Winston was sort of an every man. I mean, kids really identify with that character.
RELATED: Who Is Ernie Hudson?
No matter where I go, people always reference Ghostbusters. If people know that I'm in New York, somebody will show up at the hotel with a Ghostbuster backpack and jumpsuit. I've seen people turn their cars into Ectomobiles. I'm amazed at the love for the movie. So, the Winston character, I feel very thankful to have something like that in my body of work.
Audiences can start a free trial with the streaming platform to see past episodes and season three at BET+.