Why Hollywood won't cast Eddie Murphy anymore

While emerging on the comedy circuit, Eddie Murphy caught the attention of the entertainment industry and soon became one of the youngest celebs to be cast on Saturday Night Live at the age of 19. From there, his career blossomed. Throughout the '80s, Murphy managed to parlay his success as a raunchy, abrasive stand-up comic into a rewarding tenure as a blockbuster star in films such as 48 HRS, Coming to America, and the Beverly Hills Cop franchise. 

The end of that decade signaled the end of this Raw (no pun intended) and uncut version of the Brooklyn native, as a gentler side of Murphy found a more wholesome niche in showbiz. Murphy donned various costumes and masks to play multiple characters in the 1996 remake of The Nutty Professorwhich brought in $273 million worldwide. As we ushered in the 2000s, the multi-talent ventured into more family-friendly projects, including a starring role in Daddy Day Care and voicing Donkey in the Shrek films. 

Suddenly, after riding the wave of being Tinseltown's go-to guy for years, Murphy's mega-hit efforts dwindled. So, what happened? Here's why Hollywood won't cast Eddie Murphy anymore.

Some of Eddie Murphy's movies flopped hard

The early 2000s started out great for Eddie Murphy, having landed some box office classics with Nutty Professor II: The Klumps and his famous voiceover role in Shrek. However, the actor then brought us The Adventures of Pluto Nash in 2002 ... and we couldn't help but wonder: what the heck was he thinking?!

According to CBS News, the process of bringing this sci-fi comedy to life took nearly two decades, thanks, in part, to script and cast changes. When it was finally time to shoot, an all-star cast was assembled, including the likes of Murphy, Randy Quaid, Alec Baldwin, and Jay Mohr. But with just a four percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the futuristic comedy was deemed one of the most "epic movie flops" by CBS News, which noted Warner Bros. Studios made just $7.1 million at the box office compared to its $100 million investment in the project. Ouch.

We can only imagine how the studio's higher ups felt when they realized their golden star wasn't so golden after all. Murphy, on the other hand, took it all in stride. During a 2016 Q&A session with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, he poked fun at the movie's subpar performance, saying, "In my house we have Pluto Nash week. We celebrate Pluto Nash." Unfortunately, Murphy's career never really recovered, but at least he's come to terms with that colossal flop.

Murphy's understandably tired of making terrible movies

So, how did Eddie Murphy go from ranking number 41 on the Forbes "Celebrity 100" list to supposedly being, as the media outlet later noted, "in desperate need of some career rehab"? Well, it may boil down to the actor-comedian drastically changing his whole shtick. After starting out his career by leaving us in stitches during his Delirious stand-up special, Murphy practically killed his previous loud, in-your-face persona, which his fan base had grown to love. And with that, his time as a bankable performer in Tinseltown slowly faded into the abyss.

However, part of the reason why Hollywood won't cast Murphy anymore could be due, in part, to his own pickiness. While opening up about the possibility of making Beverly Hills Cop 4 on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2013, Murphy admitted he's no longer just accepting any script that's thrown at him. In this case, they had the script, but had to make sure it was just right. "This will be perfect," Murphy told the titular host, before quipping, "Because I don't wanna do anything else that sucks ever again ... I don't wanna suck no more." 

Avoiding bad scripts may have led Murphy to remain in the shadows, but hey, at least he won't be nominated for any more Razzie Awards.

He's not necessarily desperate for a paycheck

With a reported net worth of $160 million, as of this writing, the last thing on Eddie Murphy's mind is accepting an on-screen role just to make an income. Instead, this multi-talent has the luxury of signing on to a project simply because it's something he wants to do, rather than something he needs to do. The 2016 dramedy Mr. Church, for example, made less than $1 million at the box office (via Rotten Tomatoes). However, Murphy agreed to work on it simply because he liked the script. While speaking with The Washington Post, the actor stated, "The check movies are over for me."

Murphy expressed that same sentiment when Shortlist magazine asked if he'd appear alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Triplets, a potential sequel to 1988's Twins. "I'm not doing anything unless the script's incredible," he said (via AZ Central), before adding, "I did some movies where they offer you a bunch of money and you go, 'OK, I'll do it!' I've done enough of those — I don't have to do them anymore." Welp, they must have really wowed him with the script, because Schwarzenegger announced at a 2018 SXSW panel that Murphy was all in, according to Deadline.

Hey, there's nothing wrong with Murphy being picky, just so long as it resurrects his career!

Eddie Murphy's working behind the scenes

Perhaps Hollywood won't cast Eddie Murphy anymore because he's far too busy taking an off-camera turn while in his own little world. In 2015, The Washington Post reported that the multi-hyphenate had written a "parody of 12 Years a Slave, Roots and superhero movies" called Buck Wonder, Super Slave. That wasn't all, the publication also revealed that Murphy was working on an "R-rated talking animal movie and a film about two brothers who inherit a black circus." 

Now, we're not foreshadowing the potential success (or failure) of any of these projects. We're simply stating that the man in question has remained super busy behind the scenes. That said, it wouldn't be the first time Murphy wrote his own screenplay. He once teamed up with his late brother, Charlie Murphy, as well as Jay Scherick and David Ronn, to write the 2007 comedy Norbit. Despite earning just nine percent on Rotten Tomatoes, Reuters reports that the movie went on to gross $33.7 million in just three days. After starring in so many films, it seems Murphy feels equally comfortable hanging out behind the camera. 

Murphy would rather jam out all day than play in Hollywood

Eddie Murphy proved that he's a multi-talented entertainer when he released his 1985 album, How Could It Be. While the world realized his girl liked to "Party All the Time," we were also a bit shocked to discover that this Grammy award-winning artist had a pretty decent singing voice, as well. After lending his impressive vocals to Dreamgirls in 2006, Murphy crossed over to reggae music while teaming up with Snoop Dogg for the 2013 track "Red Light" – and basically, we were shook. Thank you, Eddie, for Jamaican us dance uncontrollably!

While speaking with Billboard at the time, Murphy revealed that his love for music began at an early age. Although he loves "to make people laugh," it's music that has his heart: "Even if I was dead broke, I would play my guitar, but I would not be writing jokes." Guitar? Yes, you read that right. Murphy previously told Rolling Stone in 2011 that his love for playing the musical instrument had taken precedence over his life. It had gotten to the point where he said, "And I only want to do what I really want to do, otherwise I'm content to sit here and play my guitar all day."

Well, jam on, sir.

That time Eddie Murphy reportedly dissed the Oscars

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Eddie Murphy was a strong contender in the best supporting actor category at the 2007 Oscars for his acclaimed performance as James "Thunder" Early in Dreamgirls (2006). At that point, he'd already taken home the trophy at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards in that same category. So, snagging an Academy Award would've been the icing on the cake.

Sadly, Murphy was met with disappointment when veteran actor Alan Arkin ultimately won the Academy Award for his work in Little Miss Sunshine. To show his apparent detest, the actor-singer and his then-girlfriend, Tracey Edmonds, reportedly walked out of the event. Yikes. Maybe he was indeed robbed. Still, he probably could've sucked it up and enjoyed the rest of the evening with his peers, no? Either way, Murphy later told Us Weekly, "It's fine. It happens. It's OK" (via Hollywood.com). However, this wouldn't be the last time he made headlines for allegedly dissing the entertainment industry.

Yup...he apparently snubbed the Academy again

As if his first reported Oscars snub wasn't bad enough, Eddie Murphy appeared to poo-poo the event once again in 2011. Brett Ratner was tapped to produce the 84th Annual Academy Awards the following year, but soon found himself at the center of controversy after allegedly making homophobic remarks (via The Hollywood Reporter). Longtime creative partner Murphy had been brought on board to host the event, but when Ratner stepped down amid the backlash, Murphy gave up his hosting duties, as well. 

"I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop," Murphy stated to THR at the time. "But I'm sure that the new production team and host will do an equally great job." Unfortunately, the Academy reportedly saw Murphy's actions and words as a diss. "What the hell was he thinking?" an Academy member said in a follow-up interview with THR. "It was a career mistake." Meanwhile, another member stated: "This is like a big middle-finger to the Academy and to the industry." Yikes.

Of course, all of this poses the question: Did Murphy's refusal to host the legendary ceremony cause him to get blackballed by the Academy? Perhaps.

Eddie Murphy always had a post-Hollywood retirement plan

For some people, it's surprising that Eddie Murphy has slowed down when it comes to his acting career. But for those who've been following him closely, they know that the actor has always had a timeline as to when he would make his final curtain call. In 2008, he told Today show host Al Roker, "I am planning to make movies until I am 50." At that point, Murphy had less than two years until he turned the big 5-0. So, what did he plan to do after reaching that milestone birthday? He announced, "Then I am going back to the stage."

Considering stand-up comedy was one of his first loves, it seemed only right for Murphy's career to come full circle with plans to return to where things really kicked off for him. However, that also meant the film industry would have to take a backseat while this actor-comedian dusted off his microphone and flexed his comedic prowess.

Stand-up 'stopped being fun' for Murphy

What happened to the Eddie Murphy from Raw and Delirious, who could command a stage and keep his audience laughing non-stop? Well, he also took some time away from the comedy world for one particular reason. Despite his previously mentioned plans to return to the stage, Murphy told AZ Central in 2015 that he had quit performing stand-up simply because it "stopped being fun."

Apparently, Murphy was tired of telling jokes and being just one of many comedians in a sea of funnymen and funnywomen. He also wasn't pleased with the landscape of the comedy circuit, stating, "When I started there were 100 comedians, now there's 100,000. How do you have your own voice?” Ultimately, the comic quickly made the leap into the world of making movies and felt stuck, explaining, "Then it felt like too much work going back there [to stand-up]."

We get his point, but Murphy is a legend. How could he not stand out above the rest of comedians? Well, he would soon find out that there's still a market for a veteran comedian like him ... but more on this below.

Have critics 'derailed' Eddie Murphy's career?

Is it really the entertainment industry's fault that Eddie Murphy has disappeared from the limelight? The answer is might just be yes — at least according to a 2016 op-ed piece published in The New Yorker. Film critic Richard Brody blasted the actor's movie Mr. Church, deeming it "repugnant for its dehumanizing view ... of a black man, and repugnant for its emptying-out of one of the great black performers of the time into a sanitized symbol of acceptable blackness."

Huh? Allow us to explain. As previously mentioned, Murphy was known as a foul-mouthed comedian who never minced his words when he began his career. Basically, nothing was off-limits for the comic. However, Brody argued that after Murphy got comfortable as a top-notch actor in Hollywood, the industry watered him down, so to speak. While using Mr. Church as an example, the author claimed the main reason why he hadn't been making "anything of any substance" was partially "because critics have derailed Murphy's comedy career." Noting that he's from the "more freewheeling and anarchic" old school of comedy, Brody wrote that the new "age of rational and moral comedy" went against everything on which Murphy had built his career.

In conclusion, the comedy game had changed, while Murphy had struggled to find the right "filmmaker to make substantial use of his art."

Is Eddie Murphy ready to make his Hollywood comeback?

Hollywood might have cooled off on its Eddie Murphy obsession in recent years, but that doesn't mean this multi-hyphenate's career has completely puttered out. During a July 2019 segment on Jerry Seinfeld's Netflix series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, the legendary comedian-turned-movie star teased that there was a possibility he would return to the stage. Cue the chorus of "yays"! Around that time, TMZ reported that Murphy was supposedly working on a $70 million deal to film a comedy special with the streaming giant Netflix. The gossip rag noted that the alleged deal would include an "undisclosed number of comedy specials."

In addition to his reported stand-up prospects, Murphy has signed on to reprise his famous role of Prince Akeem in an upcoming sequel to the hit 1988 film Coming to America (via Deadline). As of this writing, not much has been revealed about Coming 2 America, but if it's as funny as the first go-round, we wouldn't be surprised to see Eddie Murphy dominating the box office once again in the near future.