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Murphy as Witness

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Growing up in the 1980s I think I was probably the only young man in my age group to not care very much about Eddie Murphy. I have never seen Beverly Hills Cop, I have never seen Raw, I have only seen 48 Hours once, and the onset of my SNL period came after Murphy left. Of course, it was impossible not to notice the cultural phenomenon of Murphy even without participating in it directly, and from what I have seen I get it; Murphy is an immensely talented performer, just not a guy I’ve really paid attention to. Anyway, this longform interview with Murphy is something to read:

After “48 Hrs.” Marlon Brando calls my agent and wants to meet me. Now I look back and go, “Wow, that’s crazy: The greatest actor of all time wants to have dinner with you!” But back then I just thought, Well, that’s the way it is: You make a movie, and Marlon Brando calls.

Do you remember that dinner? 

Oh, yeah. The first time we were supposed to meet was at the L’Ermitage in Los Angeles. He came to the hotel, and we had dinner at the restaurant on the top. The second time was at his house, and he came and picked me up at the hotel. But there was a time mix-up, and I came down like a half-hour late — he was waiting for me in the car. [Laughs.] We went to his house on Mulholland; I was just going on and on about “The Godfather,” and he was like, “Eh, ‘The Godfather.’” Not just “The Godfather” — acting. He was like, “Acting is bullshit, and everybody can act.” This is how long ago it was: He was going, “I can’t stand that kid with the gun.” I was like, “What kid with the gun?” He said, “He’s on the poster!” I was like, “Clint Eastwood?” “Yeah, that guy!” He was calling Clint Eastwood “that kid.”

That sequence deserves its own movie. Also…

Those guys all came to tragic ends. Do you understand the pitfalls that present themselves at that level of fame? 

Those guys are all cautionary tales for me. I don’t drink. I smoked a joint for the first time when I was 30 years old — the extent of drugs is some weed. I remember I was 19, I went to the Blues Bar. It was me, Belushi and Robin Williams. They start doing coke, and I was like, “No, I’m cool.” I wasn’t taking some moral stance. I just wasn’t interested in it. To not have the desire or the curiosity, I’d say that’s providence.

Not trying to keep up with Robin Williams and John Belushi in a coke competition suggests a certain kind of wisdom that I’d doubt many 19 year olds could manage…

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