At 46, actor Ernie Hudson has been around for a while. He appeared in both the ''Ghostbusters'' movies, but they didn't do his career much good.
Now Hudson is appearing in the new film ''The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,'' which opens here Friday. Rebecca de Mornay plays a deranged young woman who becomes a nanny for a family she intends to destroy.
Standing in her way is Solomon, a handyman, played by Hudson, who knows what the nanny is up to long before the people who have hired her wise up.
The man Hudson plays is slightly retarded. Does Hudson expect that black groups will protest this impersonation?
''They've reacted to it very favorably,'' he said. ''After all, the guy is the hero of the piece.''
Hudson thought his career would get a major boost after the "Ghostbusters" movies, but that wasn't the case.
''I thought I'd be able to do it all after 'Ghostbusters,' '' he said. ''I thought they would take me up to the next level, but they didn't. They made people aware of me, but when it came to getting roles I wanted, it didn't change things one iota. Of course, I'd do them all over again, for more money, but they didn't give me that much swat.
''I had to fight for this role," he said of the new film. "The part was written for a white man, but when my agent told me about it, I read the script and decided I wanted to audition for the role of the handyman.
''It wasn't easy to get an audition. They told me that I was not what they had in mind, so I managed to get to the director, Curtis Hanson. I told him that he'd be making a big mistake if he didn't use me.
''It took me a month and three screen tests to get the part,'' he said.
Did it take much research to prepare for the role? Was it difficult to get inside this character?
''Oh, sure, I did some research, but in the end I came back to myself,'' he said. ''When I was a young actor, I thought I could make each character different, but eventually, you find out that that isn't possible because everything you do is part of you.
''What you do is find that part of you that fits the role. Solomon is slow, but he is highly functional,'' Hudson said. ''For Heaven's sake, he can use a tape measure.
''I identified with him. He is the best part of me. You always try to give integrity to the role. Your own morals are what you finally end up with.''
Hudson didn't blame anyone when his career failed to accelerate after the ''Ghostbusters'' films.
''It just didn't happen, but what the heck, I'm working,'' he said. ''I've managed to make a living. I reared two kids from my first marriage, and I'm raising two more from my second marriage. I'm just having fun. All I want to do is go out and get the mortgage paid.''
What would Hudson like to do in the future?
He laughed. ''I'd like to do the stuff Cary Grant did,'' he said. ''I don't know. Who knows about success? I don't.''
What does he think of the young black directors?
''I'd like to work with some of them,'' he said. ''Most of the anger is gone now.''