With his unique comedic voice and unmatched ability to capture the nuances of others as a skilled impersonator, the multitalented Eddie Murphy has blazed a trail that has led him to become the most commercially successful African-American actor in the history of the motion picture business, and he stands firm as one of the industry’s top-five box-office performers overall.
Murphy’s rise to fame started in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, where he spent countless hours honing his verbal adroitness by performing bits for his neighborhood peers during grade school, he also mimicked the voices he heard on television, and later as a teen, he worked his stand-up routines at bars, clubs, and other venues around town. By the time he turned nineteen and an opportunity to audition for late-night comedy show Saturday Night Live presented itself, Murphy was ready.
He snagged the gig and went on to create several memorable characters on the show which made him a household name. Soon afterwards, Hollywood studios came knocking and Murphy’s career on the big screen catapulted to success. He now sits on the very short list of actors who have starred in multiple $100 million pictures over the past three decades.
Trading Places, 48 Hrs., Dr. Dolittle, Coming to America and the Beverly Hills Cop franchise are some of Murphy’s films that have been among the highest-grossing comedies in the industry. His talented, seamless screen presence garnered him Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor in a Comedy for his performances in Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places and 48 Hrs.
Murphy has famously portrayed seven different characters in the worldwide box office smash The Nutty Professor, for which he received another Golden Globe Award nomination. He added a character to play a total of eight roles in the sequel, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, co-starring Janet Jackson. He also starred in Dr. Dolittle 2, Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion, the romantic comedy Norbit, in which he played three characters as well as served as the film’s producer and screenwriter. He was in the caper comedy Tower Heist opposite Ben Stiller, starred opposite Steve Martin in the comedy Bowfinger, and played the title character in the drama Mr. Church.
For the role of James “Thunder” Early in the Dreamworks film Dreamgirls, Murphy received rave reviews and critical acclaim. His performance was honored with a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. Murphy earned his first Academy Award nomination in the same category.
He brought to life the legendary underground comic personality Rudy Ray Moore in the film Dolemite Is My Name from Netflix, which earned him widespread critical acclaim as well as a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor In A Comedy or Musical and a Critics Choice Association nomination for Best Actor. He has also received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his return to his comedy alma mater, Saturday Night Live.
Murphy has provided the voice of several animated characters, including Mushu the Dragon in the popular animated epic Mulan, Donkey in the Oscar®-winning animated film Shrek, and its sequel, Shrek 2, which is the top-grossing animated film of all time. Murphy won an Annie Award and earned BAFTA and MTV Movie Award nominations for his performance in the first Shrek, and he also reprised the role of Donkey in the final installment of the hugely successful franchise, Shrek Goes Fourth.
Taking his talent behind the camera, Murphy made his directorial debut with Harlem Nights, a period comedy he also wrote and starred in, opposite Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx. In addition, Murphy starred in and produced the hit comedy Life, co-starring Martin Lawrence. Currently, Murphy is bringing laughter to audiences in his reprised role of Akeem in Netfilx’s Coming to America 2, the long-anticipated sequel to the 1988 box-office hit.
For over four decades, Eddie Murphy has played everything from a prince to a street beggar and con artist, yet his principal role is that of father and grandfather. His family is his center. They serve as the foundation from which new roles will spring forth, and he will continue keeping audiences anticipating the brilliance of his comedic genius and versatility for many more years to come.