Eddie Murphy Plans Return to Stage But Beyond Stand-up + Wants to Work With Tarantino, Spielberg & Scorsese
Photo Credit: Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy Plans Return to Stage But Beyond Stand-up + Wants to Work With Tarantino, Spielberg & Scorsese

Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy

It’s rare these days that Eddie Murphy sits for more than a few minutes to be interviewed, so it was good to watch this almost 40-minute conversation with the actor (and musician) courtesy the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. Moderated by Stacey Wilson Hunt of New York Magazine, and happening in front of a live audience, Murphy was on hand to discuss his latest big screen project, “Mr. Church,” which is based on a real-life story about the unique friendship that develops when a little girl and her dying mother retain the services of a talented cook – Henry Joseph Church. What begins as a six-month arrangement, instead spans fifteen years, and creates a lasting family bond.

The film, directed by Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy”), opened in USA theaters 2 months ago, and hasn’t been the box office hit you might expect, given that it’s an Eddie Murphy movie – the one-time box office king whose output in the last decade or so has been mostly underwhelming (both critically and commercially), with films like “A Thousand Words,” “Meet Dave,” and “Norbit” to name 3. In fact, “Mr. Church” is shaping up to be his least commercially successful film to date, with a gross so far of less than $700K. Granted it didn’t receive a splashy, 3 thousand screen open, but it maybe speaks to a general decline in Murphy’s overall appeal as a movie star, that a film he’s starring in opens on just 350 screens and, even more telling, averages less than $1K per screen.

But I think he’s one solid project away from what would probably be described as a big screen “comeback.”

These days, Murphy appears financially comfortable enough that he doesn’t feel the need to make a film every year like some of his contemporaries. In fact, “Mr. Church” is his first film in 5 years. For an actor, that’s practically a lifetime to be away. He’s apparently gotten more serious about his music, as he discusses in the SAG-AFTRA conversation below, and doesn’t seem to be in any rush to make more films, sharing how selective he is in deciding on what projects to attach himself to. Although he also adds that he isn’t exactly being bombarded with scripts either, and typically has to be involved with a project from the very beginning, as he helps shape it.

He is interested in getting back on the stage, but not just to do stand-up comedy. Murphy’s ambitions for a stage return will encompass more than just comedy. As he says when asked whether he’ll ever entertain doing a comedy tour again, he answers: “Yeah, I’ll entertain it. I think about it. Eventually I will. But it won’t just be stand-up. It’ll be music. It’ll be comedy. It’ll be stuff from my movies… I’ve just got to figure out a way to put a show together. Because me just coming out on stage and doing stand-up, I can’t see myself doing just that. I can see having some of that, and then doing everything else. We’ll see.”

So watch for a potential Eddie Murphy touring variety show some time in the future.

A big screen “comeback” might also be something to look forward to; at least that’s what I immediately thought about when Murphy tells the audience that he’d like to work with Quentin Tarantino. I actually think they’d make a good pairing. I can see Murphy as a flawed protagonist in some full-tilt Tarantino crime/action drama. Although Tarantino has said he’ll make 2 more movies and then retire, so if a Murphy/Tarantino pairing is going to happen, there are just 2 more opportunities. Murphy did also mention that he’d like to work with Steve Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. If these are desires of his, I’d certainly expect that he’s expressed his interest to these aging filmmakers.

Still, the essentially calm and cool Murphy, as you’ll see in the conversation below, doesn’t at all appear pressed to return to the screen, and exudes more enthusiasm when he talks about his music.

Watch the 40-minute chat below:

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