How Eddie Murphy Made Beverly Hills Cop A Major Hit
Eddie Murphy entered superstardom in 1984 when he starred in “Beverly Hills Cop.” Initially a nothing-special script, the movie would go on to make over $300 million. Some of Murphy’s early film success came from “Trading Places” and “48 Hours.” But it would be the story of an out-of-place police officer from Detroit that would transform him into an American symbol. Interestingly enough, he wasn’t the first choice for the role.
It’s difficult to picture another actor taking the lead in a movie that became such a hit. Murphy’s improvisation abilities and comedic talent made the film a huge success. Take a look at just how Murphy made “Beverly Hills Cop” go from drab to fab.
A Questionable Idea
Some of the pre-production stories circulating in regard to the film imply that it was bound to be a flop. The plot of the movie was also questioned. Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney, said the idea for this movie came to him after he got a ticket. He described the officer who issued it to him as having “an air of superiority and quiet condescension,” since he was driving through Hollywood in a shabby station wagon. This interaction supposedly inspired the idea for the movie, and also moved him to buy a new Mercedes. But Don Simpson, a co-producer, has argued that the idea for the movie came from him.
Finding A Star
It took five years to finally land on a worthy script. It would be the collaborative work of Daniel Petrie and Danillo Bach that Paramount producers would approve of. So the next thing was to find the star of the film. Mickey Rourke was the first to be called for the role. Rourke stuck around only to end up passing up the role and cashing out almost half a million dollars on a holding deal.
The second call would be to Sylvester Stallone. It was said that Stallone thought the script was a joke after reading it. He added to it an opening scene that was action-packed, and an ending involving a freight train and a Ferrari; nothing resembling the story the producers had in mind. These creative differences led to Stallone leaving the project.
The producers continued in their search for the perfect fit. They considered James Caan and Al Pacino very briefly but eventually found their star. Martin Brest, the director of the movie, needed lots of convincing to take the job. And he realized early on that Eddie Murphy’s improvisations were far better than what was in the original script.
One scene in the film, in which Murphy’s character gives a speech describing the events at a strip club, was 100% improvised. Co-star John Ashton went into a laughing frenzy and had to pinch himself to stop. It seems that lots of shots were unusable because so many people were laughing in front of and behind the camera. Take this quote for example:
Alex Foley: [As a security inspector] I do security checks all over the nation! And with the exception of Cleveland, this place has the worst security IN THE NATION!
From the start, “Beverly Hills Cop” was quite the gamble. It took a long time to find the most fitting actor for the role and to get the film off the ground. But once Eddie Murphy came into the picture, the producers knew this was just the man they were looking for. Murphy’s comedic genius and improvisation made this movie a major hit. A movie with such slim prospects became quite iconic in its own right.