Murphy to play Pryor?
The rumour out today is that Eddie Murphy is set to play Richard Pryor. Now while there are some immediate comparisons in terms of they are both black comedians, both successful, although Pryor much more so, and both had a harder edged act, it's fair to say that as a character actor Murphy isn't the greatest.
However it looks like it's a done deal and Murphy is leading Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? for the writer and director Bill Condon.
You just have to look at Eddie Murphy's track record to see that he's nowhere near the actor and talent he once was, voicing a donkey has been his most successful role for some time and between that he insists on returning to play multiple roles in one film that concentrates on jokes about body functions and slapstick. Don't we all remember the days of Beverly Hills Cop and hilarious, on the edge, stand up comedy? Barely.
Apparently Eddie Murphy is so keen to play the role of his idol that he has dropped his usual salary requirements – and that has nothing to do with his string of rubbish films on screen for the past while I'm sure. Did he have salary requirements for the standard children's comic fare he'd been churning out of late?
To leap to his defence though, the story does remind us that Murphy used to do a great impression of Richard Pryor during his stand up routine. Oh, well that's great then, let's forget the string of box office tepid-ness and cast him because he once did impressions of him!
Well there is more to it than that, there are similarities in the two men's lives, but I think what Jeffrey Wells writes about over at Hollywood Elsewhere is perhaps the most poignant for me about Murphy.
He says that Murphy has a reputation for being extremely egotistical on set and making most things about himself and how can that marry up with having to sacrifice your own character to become another one completely – and he's not talking about putting on a rubber suit and farting at a dinner table, he's talking about character acting.
Although I don't claim to know the actor that well, seeing his career and his story to date that sort of approach is very apparent. Everything is about the man, and I can't help but feeling that he is always about the name Eddie Murphy.
Is there a way that he can let go of that and become Richard Pryor properly in order to give a strong performance of the great comedian through his troubled life? I think not, Bill Condon thinks he does. What do you think? You're the important ones as you'll be paying to see the film, or not.