Eddie Murphy won critical raves and an Oscar nomination for channeling soul singer Jimmy “Thunder” Early in “Dreamgirls” in 2006, a transformative performance proving Murphy’s dramatic chops.
“They say, ‘Oh, this is great, this is his best acting, it looked like you were really crying on the inside,’ ” Murphy recalls in a Washington Post interview. “I was.”
He was tapping into his pain and stress from his then divorce from wife Nicole, with whom he has five children. “Getting divorced didn’t sour me on the institution of marriage,” he now says. “I’ll tell you what I’ll never do: I’ll never get divorced again. That’s a s—– deal for anybody.”
That’s not the only thing he’s sworn off. The one-time box office champ for such films as “Beverly Hills Cop,” its sequel, “Coming to America” and the voice of Donkey in the “Shrek” films has declared: “The check movies are over for me.”
To that end, he made “Henry Joseph Church,” a low-budget 2016 film from “Driving Miss Daisy’s” Bruce Beresford, playing a cook tasked with taking care of a young girl, only because he liked the script. Murphy also is working on projects for himself, writing the scripts for a movie called “Buck Wonder, Super Slave,” a parody of “Roots,” “12 Years a Slave” and superhero films, and a talking-animal movie about two brothers who inherit a circus.
As for returning to stand-up comedy — the former “Saturday Night Live” star hasn’t told a joke on stage in nearly 30 years — there’s always a chance. His pal Arsenio Hall recalls how he and Murphy recently cooked up a funny comedy bit. Hall wanted to use it in his act, but Murphy asked to bank it for himself, just in case.
“As long as a comic is holding onto a joke,” Hall says, “that’s a man who’s thinking about it.”