Eddie Murphy: Don't Call Mr. Church 'My Big Comeback Movie'

Eddie Murphy in Mr. Church
Eddie Murphy in Mr. Church

Eddie Murphy Says Mr. Church Is Not His Big Comeback Movie

Eddie Murphy used to churn out one, two and sometimes three movies a year, going for the laughs in comedy-action films and as Donkey in the “Shrek” franchise. So it may come as a surprise that it’s been four long years ago since he last appeared in a movie project — the widely panned “A Thousand Words” — and 10 years since his Oscar-nominated turn in “Dreamgirls.”

Murphy has now returned to theaters, turning down the volume as a gentle, enigmatic cook in the indie family drama “Mr. Church” from director Bruce Beresford, best known for “Driving Miss Daisy.” The actor tells Made in Hollywood reporter Kylie Erica Mar that while the movie brings him back to the big screen, this was no calculated career move.

“No, no, it’s not my big comeback movie,” Murphy says. “If I were doing a big comeback movie, it would be like some big giant comedy something. … I’ve never done anything like this, so I can’t be coming back to it.”

Eddie Murphy Says He Rarely Gets Scripts Like Mr. Church

Based on a true story, “Mr. Church” has Murphy playing a man with a mysterious past who helps care for a dying woman and her daughter, creating the family he never had.

“I just had a really strong emotional response to the script when I read it, and that’s why I wound up doing it because I don’t usually get offered stuff like this,” says Murphy. “I very rarely have a strong emotional response to a script when I’m reading it. Usually, it’s either: This is funny. Or, This isn’t funny. Or, We can make this funny. That’s usually the stuff, the mechanics I’m working with.”

The role required the comic actor to dial down his personality to subtle levels seen in flashes as James “Thunder” Early in “Dreamgirls” in 2006. For Murphy, who rose to fame as a fast-talking wise-cracker in “48 Hours” and “Beverly  Hills Cop,” the role of Mr. Church required him to embrace silences as a powerful acting tool.

How Eddie Murphy Quieted Down for Mr. Church


“That’s having a really good director who can get those moments out of you, when you do the least amount, and that’s what works,” he says. “Usually when I’m making a movie I’m trying to get the joke and go for the joke. … A director has to steer you into those moments. I don’t have a clue how to get those.”

Despite Beresford’s best efforts, Murphy still fell into old habits. “I’m always trying to come up with a joke,” he says. “On this movie, I’m would be: Hey, you know what would be funny, Bruce … ? He’d go, Yeah, that would be very funny, but we’re doing that. And I was like: What?”

“Mr. Church” hits theaters Sept. 16.