Eddie Murphy was born on April 3, 1961, in Brooklyn, New York. By age 15, Murphy was working standup comedy in New York clubs.
At the age of 19, Murphy became a Not Ready for Primetime Player on Saturday Night Live. Soon after, he got his first movie break in 48 Hours, a buddy cop movie opposite Nick Nolte. After the success of that movie, Murphey’s film career took off.
Eddie Murphy’s Film Career
Murphy has appeared in a wide variety of movies, many of them action adventure with more than a dash of comedy. The Beverly Hills Cop franchise is his most famous, in which he stars as a rogue cop named Axel Foley.
Other films in the same vein include The Golden Child, in which his character delves into mystic fantasy with Charles Dance, the future Tywin Lannister, as a demonic baddy. Murphy parodied his rogue cop persona in Showtime, in which his character winds up in a reality TV show.
Murphy has branched out from the wise-talking action hero that made him famous. He has lent his voice to animation, including Mushu the dragon in the animated Mulan, and Donkey in the Shrek franchise.
He was the villain in the horror film Vampire in Brooklyn, an African prince (as well as three denizens of a barber shop) in Coming to America, and an accidental congressman in Distinguished Gentleman.
Murphy’s best turn at drams occurred in Mr. Church, in which he stars as a cook whose services are retained by a family, an arrangement that is supposed to last for six months but turns into a 15-year friendship.
Murphy has had his misses, which include The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Holy Man, the third Beverly Hills Cop movie, and Norbit, among others. Indeed, Murphy’s acting career seemed to take a nosedive as the 21st century came around.
However, Eddie Murphy’s career may be on the verge of a renaissance as he attempts to reconnect with his roots. The sequel to Coming to America, Coming 2 America, was moderately to well received. He is even working on a fourth Beverly Hills Cop film with all the old gang coming back together, a much-anticipated project.
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
English 1h 45m IMDb
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton
Beverly Hills Cop is without a doubt Mur phy’s greatest film, He plays Axel Foley, a Detroit police detective, notorious for his flagrant desire to flout procedure, The death of a close friend causes him to journey to Beverly Hills, where policework is a little too formal and rulebound for Foley’s taste.
Along with two white bread detectives, played by John Ashton and Judge Reinhold, Foley has a series of adventures as a fish out of water while he solves the reason for his friend’s death and along the way establishes a lifelong friendship with his two new partners.
48 Hours, released December 8, 1982
English, Spanish 1h 36m IMDb
Stars: Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, Annette O’Toole
Eddie Murphy’s first movie was an 80s action/comedy called 48 Hours. In it, he stars as a criminal named Reggie Hammond who is sprung from prison for 48 hours by a rogue cop named Jack Cates, played by Nick Nolte. Cates needs Hammond to help him catch two violent escaped convicts who have already shot a police officer and taken his service revolver.
The movie follows the formula of a buddy cop film with Cates and Hammond at first being antagonistic to each other. But as the film progresses, they warm to one another as the movie proceeds to its violent, bloody climax.
Coming to America, released June 29, 1988
English 1h 57m IMDb
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Paul Bates, Garcelle Beauvais
Coming to America features Murphy as Prince Akeem, the heir to the throne of a fabulously wealthy African kingdom (think Wakanda without the superheroes.) In order to find a bride who will love and respect him for his intelligence and character and not his title, Akeem travels to New York and pretends to be a poor man in search of a bride.
He winds up working at a burger fast food place and starts to woo the owner’s daughter. Romantic complications ensue.
Murphy not only plays the fish out of water prince in disguise to the T, but also the denizens of a local barber shop, including a white, Jewish man. Not a lot of violence ensues, but Akeem is shown as a man who can handle himself. And, of course, the film concludes with a happy ending.
Harlem Nights, released November 17, 1989
English 1h 56m IMDb
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx
The great aspect of Harlem Nights is the chemistry between Eddie Murphy and the late, great Richard Pryor. Murphy is Quick, a hot-headed hoodlum and adopted son of Sugar Ray, played by Pryor. Sugar Ray owns an after-hours club in Harlem in the late 1930s, which also offers illegal gambling and the services of ladies of the evening.
Beset on all sides by rival gangsters and corrupt cops, Sugar Ray decides to decamp from Harlem to another, presumably safer location. A host of complications ensue before that can happen.
The most heartwarming scene occurs when Sugar Ray tells Quick that it isn’t cool to die at 27 but rather at 89, surrounded by children and grandchildren. Sadly, Pryor had already been diagnosed with the multiple sclerosis that would eventually kill him at age 65.
A Vampire in Brooklyn, released October 27, 1995
English 1h 40m IMDb
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, Allen Payne
In A Vampire in Brooklyn, a horror/comedy directed by Wes Craven, Eddie Murphey plays one of his rare villains, a vampire who hails from a Caribbean island who travels to New York in search of a bride, who turns out to be a police detective played by Angela Bassett.
The movie borrows heavily from the plot of Dracula, albeit with a more modern setting and a mainly African American cast. Murphy is at once suave and deadly, just like Dracula. While the movie did not do well with either critics or audiences, A Vampire in Brooklyn has since become a cult favorite.
Showtime, released March 15, 2002
English 1h 35m IMDb
Stars: Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy, Rene Russo
Showtime works as a partial parody of the buddy cop shows that made Eddie Murphy famous. In this version, Murphy plays Officer Trey Sellers, who is only doing the catching bad guys gig in order to get into show business.
He kind of-sort of gets his wish when he is hired to appear in a reality show, paired with a no-nonsense detective named Mitch Preston and played by Robert De Niro.
Some aggravation ensues when it becomes clear that the producers of the show are uninterested in portraying the real-life lives of cops but want a contrived fantasy. Nevertheless, Sellers and Preston bond enough to catch some real criminals. William Shatner steals the show as a consultant hired to show the real cops how to be TV cops.
Beverly Hills Cop II, released May 20, 1987
English 1h 40m IMDb
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, Jürgen Prochnow
The second Beverly Hills Cop offering is one of those rare sequels that hold up almost if not just as well as the original movie. Eddie Murphy’s Axel Foley returns to Beverly Hills, when Captain Bogomil, with whom he has become good friends since the first movie, is shot by an armed robber played by Brigitte Nielson, an act that turns out to be a big mistake.
Teaming up with his old partners Rosewood and Taggart, Foley once again takes down the bad guys with his combination of wise-ass banter, epic self-confidence, and his acumen with gun play.
Mr. Church, April 16, 2016
English 1h 44m IMDb
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Britt Robertson, Natascha McElhone
In Mr. Church, Eddie Murphy does a rare dramatic turn as the cook/caretaker for three generations of a family that reside under the shadow of the impending death of the mother. He is a mysterious figure with what turns out to be a double life.
The movie is a sweet, uplifting story that stretches Murphy’s ability to suppress his usual wise-cracking persona. Murphy accepted the role as a way to stretch himself and to do something that he hadn’t done before.
Even though Mr. Church was not a success, either with critics or audiences, it is well worth a look to see a different side of Murphy.
Trading Places, released June 8, 1983
English 1h 56m IMDb
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Ralph Bellamy
Trading Places pairs Murphy with Dan Aykroyd, another Not Ready for Prime Time player alumnus.
The plot concerns a bet between two fabulously wealthy and very old commodities traders, Randolph and Mortimer Duke, They bet that they can ruin their protégé, Louis Winthorpe III, played by Aykroyd, and replace him with Billy Ray Valentine, played by Murphy, a small-time hustler and confidence man.
At first, the plan is proceeding nicely, until Winthorpe and Valentine discover each other, put two and two together, and decide to take revenge, using the tools of free market capitalism combined with the biggest con in history.
The Golden Child, released December 12, 1986
English 1h 34m IMDb
Stars: Eddie Murphy, J.L. Reate, Charles Dance
In this film Eddie Murphy is Chandler Jerrell, a detective who specializes in finding lost children. In this case, the lost child is a Tibetan boy with mystical powers before he is corrupted by the minions of a demonic figure named Sardo Numspa, played by a young Charles Dance.
Much of the comedy derives from Murphy’s character’s initial disbelief in magic and mysticism and his dawning awareness that both exist and are an existential threat to him, his lovely sidekick Kee Nang, and the entire world.
Eddie Murphy is in his sixties now and, one would think, in the twilight of his career. Yet he is still making movies Besides the fourth Beverly Hills Cop movie, he is working on a film called Triplets, the sequel of the 1988 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.
It looks like Murphy’s 40-plus-year career is unlikely to end any time soon. The best Eddie Murphy Movies may be yet to come.