Eddie Murphy


  1. Ernie Hudson, Ghostbusters, 1983.      Who ya gonna call…?  Not Eddie!  The paranormal was, said Dan Aykord, his family’s business. That and having stayed in a house haunted by Mama Cass Elliott inspired his dark, futuristic update of such 40s’ comedies as Bob Hope’s Ghost Breakersand the Bowery Boys as Ghost Chasers –  penned for John Belushi, Eddie Murphy and himself. Dan was actually writing a line for John when hearing about his shock death. (He said  Slimer was John‘s ghost). Murphy was busy – policing Beverly Hills. “It wasn’t like I turned it down,” he told Jimmy Fallon, “I wasn’t available because I did this other movie.”   Gregory Hines was seen and  after a month’s wait (after five auditions) Hudson became Winston Zeddemore – no longer the same size role as it had been  for Eddie. He loved Winston, the movie, the guys and his “great lines,” he wrote in Entertainment Weekly. “But it’s always been very frustrating-kind of a love/hate thing, I guess.”   

  2. Catherine Hicks, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, 1985.        The only time Eddie was replaced by a woman… He was suggested for the UFO prof who spots the de-cloaking Klingon ship during the Super Bowl. Everyone else says it’s just another of those clever half-time special effects. The studio passed, this once, not wanting to mix top franchises like Trek and Eddie, recalling the mess of Richard Pryor joining Superman III, 1983.   From 1996-2007, Hicks joined 7th Heaven as the wife of Stephen Collins, aka Captain Decker in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 1978. (His career was over in 2014 after admitting sexual misconduct with three underage girls). Murphy finally went to space in The (appalling) Adventures of Pluto Nash, 2001. Film cost $100m and had a US take of… $4.41m. Murphy should have stayed in the BHPD.

  3. John Schuck, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, 1986. 
  4. Levi Stubbs, Little Shop of Horrors, 1986.     Director Frank Oz wanted Murphy voicing the man-eating alien plant, aka Audrey II. Finally, Oz fell for the baritone singer of The Four Tops – Reach Out (I’ll Be There) and 19 other Top 40 Motown hits. Test audiences hated the finale where Audrey II ate Audrey (and her guy Seymour) Because, said Oz, there as no curtain call after it, to prove everyone was alive and well!
  5. Michael Keaton, Gung Ho, 1986.    The studio wanted a top comedy name but director Ron Howard says it was always written for “my ace in the hole.”  D’oh!

  6. Bob Hoskins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1987.
    “The only movie that I have turned down that became a big hit,” Eddie told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show  in December 2019. “I was going to be the Bob Hoskins dude.” But? “I was like, what? Animation and people sounds like bullshIt to me. Now every time I see it, I feel like an idiot.”   Chevy Chase was too nervy, Harrison Ford too pricey and Murphy regretted passing. (He made up for it with his Shrek donkey). Surprisingly, the murder mystery where the chief suspect is a cartoon character was based on the never made Cloverleaf, Robert Towne’s third Jake Gittes script. For Chinatown, read Toontown. So who should be Gittes, er, shamus Eddie Valiant? Well, why not Gittes, himself – Jack Nicholson? No, OK, Ed Harris, Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone? Director Robert Zemeckis also considered, Charles Grodin, Aussie comic Don Lane,, Joe Pantoliano – and auditioned voice artist Peter Renaday. And they could never contact the hideaway Bill Murray… When he read that in a paper, Murray screamed out loud- he would have loved heing Valiant. Not that much fun, reported Hoskins. I had to hallucinate to do it,” he told Danish TV. After working with green screens for six months, 16 hours a day, he lost control.  I had weasels and rabbits popping out of the wall at me.

  7. Steve Martin, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 1988.     Showed mild  interest in Marlon Brando’s old comedy role (Bedtime Story, 1964,)  before it went from  Bill Murray to Steve  Martin.
  8. Morgan Freeman, Driving Miss Daisy, 1989.    No kidding, the studio toyed with the (dumbass) idea  of Eddie  driving the Divine Miss M – Bette Midler!
  9. Ray Liotta, Goodfellas, 1989.  Super-agent Michael Ovitz’ CAA promised “better material, better inforfmation better deals –-and we’ll make your dream projects happen.”   But Warner was a star-driven studio. They had two CAA clients, Robert De Niro (but in a support role). They had Martin Scorsese (but hey, he was, whaddyercallit, a director). They needed A Name for Henry Hill, a cokehead Mafia stool-pigeon,whose true story this was. Warner suggested – wouldn’t you know it? – Cruise. And  in what Ovitz called “a classically terrible studio idea”… Eddio Murphio!
  10. Robin Williams, Aladdin, 1991.     Disney’s voice choices for the blue Genie included Murphy, Albert Brooks, John Candy, Matt Frewer, John Goodman, Steve Martin, Martin Short… As if anyone could match Williams’ dazzling 16 hours of improv. So much ad-lib finished on screen, the toon was denied any adapted script Oscar nomination! (Murphy could heve come close, as proved by his donkey in the Shrek toons). In typical whirlwind manic brilliance (at union scale!), Williams used everyone from Ethel Merman to Groucho Marx, William F Buckley to Carol Channing, Nicholson to De Niro!   “Good but not great,” noted Chicago critic Roger Ebert, “with the exception of the Robin Williams sequences, which have a life and energy all their own.” Indeed.

  11. Denzel Washington, Malcolm X, 1992.    Producer Marvin Worth spent 25 years trying to make a film of Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X – a friend during their teen years. In New York.  “Such a great American story,” saidf Worth, “It reflects our society in so many ways. Here’s a guy who… pulled himself out of the gutter… went from country boy top hipster and semi-hoodlum… went to prison where he became a Muslim. Then, he was a spiritual leader who evolved into a humanitartian”  Scenarists ranged from James Baldwin (with the once blacklisted  Arnold Perl) to  Charles Fuller and David Mamet – but  always aimed at white directors (Norman Jewison Sidney Lumet, Oliver Stone) until it was made by the inevjtable Spike Lee.  During the on-off period, Murphy was a serious choice for Malcolm.  
  12. Samuel L Jackson, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
  13. Michael J  Fox, Life With Mikey, 1993.      For his Disney debut, Murphy had the choice of being The Distinguished Gentleman or this ex-child star running an LA  talent agency.  He chose to be…  Mr Murphy Goes To Washington.
  14. Mykeltie Williamson, Forrest Gump, 1994.  Stand-up Dave Cjappelle  held his nose – he thought  it would be a stinker.  Then again, Ice Cube, David Alan Grier, Martin Lawrence, Eddie Murphy(way too gigantic for such a support role), Chris Rock and Tupac Shakur also passed on Gump’s pal, Bubba. . Hanks heard how Chapelle regretted refusing and asked him to be his  buddy in You’ve Got Mail, 1998.   And that’s all I have to say about that…
  15. Will Smith, Bad Boys, 1994.   Or changed boys…  The first script, then called Bulletproof Hearts, was written for
    Saturday Night Live stars, Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz.  “Horrified” by the wild producer Don Simpson, Carvey withdrew. So, the duo was Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes when the rights moved from Disney to Columbia… which fancied a Will Smith actioner. Martin Lawrence became his co-star. They both had hit TV series – The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Martin – and had the necessary wit to improvise most of their good Bad roles.  Arsenio Hall later said refusing the ’96 release was the worst mistake of his career. He was not alone. Hall said Laurence Fishburne walked away. 
  16. Paul McGann, Doctor Who (The Movie),  TV, 1996.   
  17. Chris Tucker, Rush Hour, 1998.    The spec script by novelist Ross LaManna in 1995 was first aimed at two black cops, Martin Lawrence – and stand-up Dave Chappelle as Detective James Carter. Then black and white with Lawrence and Chris Farley (who died in 1997). Murphy had already done the cop-fish out of water number with the Beverly Hills Cop franchise. Next Carters included: Tupac Shakur, Will Smith. Disney hated director Brett Ratner’s final Asian/black duo – Jackie Chan, Chris Rock – and the $33m project moved to New Line. And global glory: $244,386,864. Plus sequels for a total of $849,734,899. Sorry about that, Disney.
  18. Chris Rock, Lethal Weapon 4, 1998.   One sequel is always enough! Roger Ebert’s Chicago Tribune review made #1 a hit way beyond Warner’s meagre expectations.  He felt #4 was mere out-takes…  All the usual black suspects – Murphy, Sean Combs (aka Puff Daddy in those day), Eddie Murphy, Will Smith, Chris Tucker, Larenz Tate – rejected the gay cop, Lee Butters. Rock rolled, but as, suddenly, the father of Danny Glover’s grandchild! As usual Glover said: “I’m too old for this shit!”This time he meant it, as he and Mel Gibson finally reached the ages of Murtaugh and Riggs as scripted in 1986.
  19. Jim Carrey, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, 2000.    Also passing: Jack Nicholson.

  20. Chadwick Boseman, Get On Up, 2013.  
    Some talk of Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote obsession  as being history’s most cursed film. Others –  like Spike Lee and producer Brian Glazer, Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment partner – vote for the biopic of The Godfather of Soul …James Brown! Glazer kicked off the project in the 1990s. (Quixote dated back to 1988). And went through four Mister Dynamites – Chris Brown, and Spike’s choices Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes – plus numerous musical rights hassles, before Mick Jagger joined the ten producers and Spike was succeeded by Tate Taylor and  most of his cast from The Helpcast. Plus his 42star, Boseman, who spent two months  honing singing and dancing  like The Hardest Working Man in Showbiz.  Spike was going to use Brown’s voice, but this is no longer the warts-and-all script Brown had worked on with Glazer, Lee & Co. But, like Boseman, it is outstanding.   Murphy was Brownesque in Dreamgirls, 2006, but had always voted Snipes (abent in jail for tax evasion). “He turned into the action dude, but Wesley has all the talent… James Brown isn’t just singing and splits, you gotta be able to act, you gotta get chased in a car in a crack haze and shot at. Wesley could pull that off, you need to be an actor.”
  21. Eli Roth, Inglourious Basterds, 2008.      Quentin Tarantino had the title since 1998 – the US title but not the same story of Enzo G Casterllari’s 1978 spaghetti war saga, Quel maledetto trena blindato. Michael Madsen later announced the first casting of himself, Sandler, Eddie Murphy (nearly in Pulp Fiction), Tim Roth. But Cute (QT!) postponed everything for his Kill Bills, 2003/2004… and then changed his game plan, making Sergeant Donny Donowitz Jewish instead of black. Said actor-director Roth: “I’m Jewish, and this is like kosher porn. It’s something I’ve fantasised about it since I was a little kid.

  22. Seth Rogen,  The Green Hornet, 2010.   Some 18 years shot  by between Murphy trying hard to be green in 1992 and  Seth shedding 30lbs and finding it was not a step-up for Rogenkind.  Others keen on green were Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Vince Vaughn and Mark Wahlberg.Back in 1999, everything seemed set for Murphy as  the black Hornet. John Stewart.  (There are six variations of the hero). Next, the star of TV’s The Closer, Corey Reynolds,  wrote Green Lantern: Birth of a Hero in  2007; Warners liked it and suggested a 2010 release. And then switched from Stewart (based by his creators on Sidney Poitier) to test pilot Hal Jordan manifestation (kinda Paul Newman). Some years earlier, the bald and bearded Chicago rapper, Common, had been booked to be Stewart in George Miller’s eventually cancelled Justice League project.
  23. Ryan Reynolds, Green Lantern, 2010.       Another green offer… Directors changed (Kevin Smith, Zack Snyder, Quentin Tarantino and even the producer Greg Berlanti) as often as the superhero hero – Murphy, Jack Black, Bradley Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Brian Austin Green, Emile Hirsch, Jared Leto, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake, Sam Worthington. And two Brits: Henry Cavill, Michael Fassbender. Once 007’s Martin Campbell took over, he wanted Cooper and was greatly miffed when the suits signed Reynolds behind his back. The two guys never got on and the film flopped.
  24. Ben Stiller, Tower Heist, 2010.      Eddie and  the two Chrises, Rock and Tucker,  were the leads before  the black Ocean’s Eleven turned black and white…  Ben Stiller took  over the  lead for $15m – double Murphy’s pay-cheque.  Times had changed.
  25. James Cromwell, Big Hero 6, 2014.    Six super heroes. So they naturally require one super-nemesis. Who better than (the masked) Robert Callaghan, head of a robotics at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. The voicing gig for Disney’s first Marvel subject –  after The Big Buy-Out but before Kevin Feige created the  Marvelverse, and  winning the best animation Oscar – was aimed at Jason Alexander, Alec Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Jim Carrey, Danny De Vito, John Goodman, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hoskins, Michael Keaton, John Malkovich, Eddie Murphy, Jack  Nicholson, Gary Oldman, Joe Pesci, JK Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor….plus the great Gilbert Gottfried, putting the rest to shame by scoring 179 screen roles in 41 years!   They all made way for Cromwell. Ten years earlier, he had created the I, Robot called Sonny, played by Alan Tudyk… here playing Cromwell’s arch rival, Alistair Krei. 
  26. Jovan Adepo, Fences, 2016.   Paramount grabbed the rights to August Wilson’s 1987 Tony winning Broadway play… because Murphy wanted a dramatic role. None of the corporate suits seemed to understand that his favoured rôle of Cory was aged 17 when Murphy was 26… and counting. Yet the Anglo-American Adepo (via his Nigerian Yoruba parentage) was 28. Washington’s career advice for him was simple. “Just keep your head down and keep pushing forward, keeping searching for complex characters. If it’s not coming to you in film, get your butt on that stage.”




 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  26