Edward Regan Murphy (born April 3, 1961 in Brooklyn, New York City) is an American actor, voice actor, film director, producer, comedian and singer. He is the second-highest grossing lead actor in motion picture history. He was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1980 to 1984 — keeping that show afloat at a time when it was floundering so badly that NBC was considering cancellation note — and worked as a stand-up comedian throughout The '80s. He was ranked #10 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.
On Saturday Night Live, he's known for appearing with Joe Piscopo in a lot of sketches (to the point that the cast members and fans thought they were stealing the spotlight during their time on the show), his recurring characters Mr. Robinson (a poor, black, urban take on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood note , who first appeared on the Jean Doumanian episode that gave NBC a reason to kick her off the shownote , but didn't become popular until Dick Ebersol took over), Buckwheat from The Little Rascals (whose character was assassinated, then brought back from the dead), Dion (a Camp Gay hairstylist), "Angry Black Man" Stereotype Raheem Abdul Mohammed, poetic prisoner Tyrone Green, sleazy salesman Velvet Jones (the "I Wanna Be a Ho" Guide), and Gumby as an old, Jewish man. His celebrity impressions, though small, included Bill Cosbynote , James Brown (the singer, not the football commentator), the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Mr. T, Jerry Lewis (in a Two Faces of Eve film parody with Joe Piscopo as the older, embittered Vegas hanger-on take on Lewis while Murphy played the loud, bucktoothed, childish moron version of him), and Stevie Wonder.
Eddie Murphy is also the first (and, so far, only) Saturday Night Live cast member to host the show while still a cast member (making him the only cast member to have the shortest time between being a cast member and hosting an episode, beating Chevy Chase, who left the show in the middle of season two and came back to host in season 3), a decision that has been cited by the cast at the time as a low point for the show and a sign that Dick Ebersol cared more about making Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo popular rather than give the other cast members (Gary Kroeger, a pre-Seinfeld Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mary Gross, Tim Kazurinsky, and Brad Hall) a chance at being funny.
In 1983, he took the world of stand-up comedy by storm with his special Delirious, earning him the title of "the first rock star comedian." It continues to be memetically popular with the new generation, featuring memorable sketches such as his drunk foul-mouthed dad, his shoe-throwing mom, his overweight moustached Aunt Bonnie who fell down the stairs (My Shoe!) and is rumored to be Bigfoot (GOONIE GOO GOO!), portraying Mr. T and Ralph Kramden as homosexuals, portraying Michael Jackson as a very sensitive young man, discussing offended African-Americans on his portrayal of Stevie Wonder and much much more.
Amongst his Eighties film roles,note he was best-known for playing Axel Foley in the Beverly Hills Cop series; he also helped popularize Salt and Pepper pairings with his work in 48 Hrs. (his film debut) and Trading Places. In 2007, he won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for playing soul singer James "Thunder" Early in Dreamgirls, a role which also received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
In case you can't tell yet, Murphy was absolutely huge in the '80s. He even scored a chart-topping pop hit with "Party All the Time" in 1985; people bought the (notably bland) song entirely because it was Murphy and Rick James. The song even appears in the soundtrack to (of all things) Grand Theft Auto V. Murphy continued his music career to diminishing returns into The '90s, culminating in a duet with Jackson which is far less awesome than it sounds. Many of his later film roles have also incorporated his singing ability.
In some of his films he plays multiple roles in addition to his main character, intended as a tribute to one of his idols, Peter Sellers, who played multiple roles in Dr. Strangelove and elsewhere. Murphy has played multiple roles in Coming to America, Wes Craven's Vampire in Brooklyn, The Nutty Professor films (where he played the title role in two incarnations, plus his father, uncle, mother and grandmother), Bowfinger and 2007's Norbit.
After voicing Mushu the dragon in Disney's Mulan, Murphy's work as a voice actor went on to include Thurgood Stubbs in The PJs and Donkey in the Shrek series.
His brother Charlie was an accomplished stand-up comedian in his own right, and had a steady acting career of his own; having been a regular on Chappelle's Show, played Ed Wuncler III in The Boondocks, and had a regular role as Vic Hargrove in Black Jesus. He even appeared in a cameo as himself in a segment from 1000 Ways to Die. Sadly, he died from leukemia on April 12, 2017.
Unfortunately, as the 1990s and 2000s rolled around, Eddie's career became notorious for alternating significant hits (The Nutty Professor and the Shrek movies in particular) with embarrassing bombs, hitting rock bottom when The Adventures of Pluto Nash became one of the all-time biggest flops, with a budget of $100 million dollars and a worldwide gross of $7.1 million. He had a brief resurgence of quality with Dreamgirls (earning him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor), but he has yet to have a hit film since then. However, in 2019 he drew raves for his performance in the Rudy Ray Moore biopic Dolemite Is My Name and his return to Saturday Night Live as a guest host for the Season 45 Christmas Episode, and is planning a return to the stand-up circuit.
Notable film credits include:
- 48 Hrs. (1982) - Reggie Hammond
- Another 48 Hrs (1990)
- Trading Places (1983) - William "Billy Ray" Valentine
- Beverly Hills Cop (1984) - Det. Axel Foley
- Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
- Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)
- The Golden Child (1986) - Chandler Jarrell
- Coming to America (1988) - Prince Akeem Joffer/Clarence/Saul/Randy Watson
- Coming 2 America (2021)
- Harlem Nights (1989; also wrote and directed) - Vernest "Quick" Brown
- The Distinguished Gentleman (1992) - Thomas Jefferson Johnson
- Boomerang (1992) - Marcus Graham
- Vampire in Brooklyn (1995) - Maximillian/Preacher Pauly/Guido
- The Nutty Professor (1996) - Professor Sherman Klump/Buddy Love/Lance Perkins/Cletus 'Papa' Klump/Anna Pearl 'Mama' Jensen Klump/Ida Mae 'Granny' Jensen/Ernie Klump, Sr.
- Metro (1997) - Insp. Scott Roper
- Holy Man (1998) - G
- Dr. Dolittle (1998) - Dr. John Doolittle
- Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001)
- Mulan (1998) - Mushu (voice)
- Bowfinger (1999) - Kit Ramsey/Jifferson "Jiff" Ramsey
- Life (1999) - Rayford "Ray" Gibson
- Shrek - Donkey (voice)
- Shrek (2001)
- Shrek 2 (2004)
- Shrek the Third (2007)
- Shrek Forever After (2010)
- I Spy (2002) - Kelly Robinson
- The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002) - Pluto Nash/Rex Crater
- Daddy Day Care (2003) - Charles "Charlie" Hinton
- The Haunted Mansion (2003) - Jim Evers
- Dreamgirls (2006) - James "Thunder" Early (Academy Award nominee for Best Supporting Actor)
- Norbit (2007) - Norbit Rice/Rasputia Latimore-Rice/Mr. Wong
- Meet Dave (2008) - Starship Dave Ming-Chang (Spacecraft), Captain
- Imagine That (2009) - Evan Danielson
- Tower Heist (2011) - Darnell "Slide" Davis
- A Thousand Words (2012, originally filmed in 2008) - Jack McCall
- Mr Church (2016) - Mr. Henry David Church
- Dolemite Is My Name (2019) - Rudy Ray Moore
- You People (2023) - Akbar
His roles provide examples of:
- Alter Kocker: Loves playing these, almost always while in heavy Caucasian makeup. His performance as one in Coming to America provides the trope's page image.
- Aside Glance: An artform when he does them.
- Ascended Extra: He originally wasn't supposed to be a cast member on Saturday Night Live. When Jean Doumanian was gathering her cast, she had another token black cast member in mind (Robert Townsend, after failing to get comedian and street performer Charlie Barnett, who, despite being talented enough for TV, was a barely-literate high school dropout), but an SNL writer at the time named Neil Levy and Murphy's agent urged Doumanian to give him a chance. Murphy was let on the show after Townsend forgot (or refused) to sign his cast member contract, and even then, Murphy was relegated to background roles (even though he was a feature player along with Patrick Weathers, Yvonne Hudson, and Matthew Laurence) and fought hard to be more prominent on the show. When Doumanian was running out of material for the episode hosted by Ray Sharkey, Murphy stepped in and did a stand-up bit about black people fighting and was promoted to repertory player on the next episode (hosted by Karen Black).
- Ass Shove: "Boogie In Your Butt" is about putting random things inside a butt.
- Put a tree in your butt
Put a bumblebee in your butt
Put a clock in your butt
Put a big rock in your butt
- Became Their Own Antithesis: In his Saturday Night Live opening monologue as host, he notes with irony that 30 years ago he never thought that he would be the boring, stay at home family man (with 8 kids) and Bill Cosby would be the one in jail. *Cosby voice* "Who's America's dad now?"
- Black and Nerdy: His role as Norbit in the movie Norbit and also his role as Jiff in Bowfinger and as Professor Sherman Klump in The Nutty Professor.
- Broken Pedestal: Had this for Bill Cosby. Murphy recalled on Raw that he admired Cosby growing up and was so excited to get a call from Cosby after Delirious was a hit. Cosby proceeded to dress down the younger comic and browbeat him about his "dirty" act. Joe Piscopo recalled Murphy coming into his office afterwards completely devastated by what happened. He predictably took a ton of satisfaction in Cosby's exposure as a serial rapist a couple decades later.
- The Cast Showoff: He did not need a pro boxer to teach him how to fight in I Spy. He was already trained.
- Cluster F-Bomb: When doing stand up, he has a very filthy mouth.
- Cowboy Cop: Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. The movie starts with Eddie's character causing wide-spread property damage during a chase that resulted from an unauthorized sting.
- Does Not Like Guns: Despite using guns in most of his movies, he really hates them in real life.
- Dude, Not Funny!: In a "Hollywood Minute" on SNL in 1995, David Spade showed a picture of Eddie Murphy (who had been SNL's biggest cast member in the turbulent early 1980's), and exclaimed "Look, children, it's a falling star! Make a wish!". This triggered a feud between Murphy and Spade, and Murphy refused to have anything to with SNL for almost two decades before reconciling with Spade and the show.
- Fan Disservice: Rasputia from Norbit in a two-piece swimsuit is not a nice sight to see.
- Fascinating Eyebrow: A good portion of the cover art/posters for his movies has Murphy with a raised eyebrow.
- Fat Suit: In Nutty Professor and Norbit he wore a fat suit, as he's actually quite skinny.
- Large Ham: In many of his works.
- Mic Drop: Delirious features one of the earliest mic drops on film, in 1983.
- Motor Mouth: Used to great effect in his comedies.
- No Indoor Voice: He can be very loud.
- Non-Human Sidekick: He's voiced Donkey in the animated movie Shrek is a donkey sidekick to Shrek, an ogre. Mushu in Mulan is a dragon sidekick to Mulan, a human.
- Older Than They Look: At 61, he still looks the way he was thirty years ago.
- Rated G for Gangsta: He started his career as a cast member of Saturday Night Live, then moved on to foul-mouthed standup comedy. His first movie roles were primarily in R-rated comedies, then turned to more family-friendly fare in the 1990's and into the 2000's. As of today, he has proclaimed that he has moved on to more mature roles.
- Refuge in Audacity: He took a photo with his ten children on Christmas Day, with no issues.
- Renaissance Man: Stand-up comedian, massively popular actor, a fantastic singer, and raising ten kids on top of it all? Talk about multi-talented.
- Salt and Pepper: In 48 Hours alongside Nick Nolte, Trading Places alongside Dan Aykroyd, the Beverly Hills Cop trilogy alongside Judge Reinhold, and Showtime alongside Robert De Niro.
- Schmuck Bait: In recalling his phone call with Bill Cosby in Raw, when the Cos admonished Eddie for saying "filth flarn filth!", Eddie played dumb for a while ("I never said no 'filth flarn flith' and I'm offended you called, fuck you!") until he was able to bait Bill into saying the F-bomb ("Youuuu cannot say...FUCK!...in front of people!").note
- Self-Deprecation: His Buddy Love persona in The Nutty Professor is a big Take That against what he was known as during his slumping career in the early 1990s, when he was starting to get a reputation for being overly obnoxious and self-absorbed.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: On SNL, to the point where he became the first person to host while still a castmember. This did not go over with his fellow castmates, especially when he opened with "Live from New York, it's The Eddie Murphy Show".
- Talking Animal: Donkey in the Shrek film series. He's a talking donkey.
- Teen Genius: He was cast on SNL and quickly became the breakout star at only nineteen.
- The Teetotaler: He doesn't drink alcohol, smoke or do drugs.
- Younger Than They Look: In his early films and on SNL, he looked to be in his thirties when he was only in his early twenties. Of course he now still looks pretty much the same decades on.