Why Eddie Murphy Almost Wasn’t Cast In Beverly Hills Cop

Though one of his most iconic roles to date, Eddie Murphy nearly wasn’t cast for Beverly Hills Cop   and producer Jerry Bruckheimer is sharing insight into why. Murphy starred in the buddy cop comedy as Axel Foley , a Detroit Police Detective whose best friend is murdered after taking German bearer bonds from art gallery owner Victor Maitland in Beverly Hills. Axel heads to the California town to investigate his friend’s murder, discovering Maitland’s criminal activities and trying to convince the Beverly Hills police to help him bring Maitland to justice.

Alongside Murphy, the cast for Beverly Hills Cop  included Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Ronny Cox, Lisa Eilbacher, Steven Berkoff, Paul Reiser and Jonathan Banks. Helmed by Midnight Run ‘s Martin Brest, the film scored rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, with both the film and Murphy earning Golden Globe nominations and springboarding the actor to international stardom. Beverly Hills Cop  was also a box office smash , grossing over $234 million at the domestic box office.

Related: Coming To America vs Beverly Hills Cop: Which Eddie Murphy Films Are Better

While appearing on GQ ‘s Iconic Films series, Jerry Bruckheimer looked back on the development of Beverly Hills Cop . The legendary producer revealed Paramount Pictures initially didn’t want to cast Eddie Murphy due to a deal with Sylvester Stallone though later had a bigger financial concern of casting the comedian in the lead. See what Bruckheimer explained below:

“We had a good script, Marty worked on the script, and we’d sent it to Eddie Murphy and Paramount said, ‘No, we want to give it to Stallone.’ Sylvester Stallone had a deal with Paramount, it was called ‘Pay and Play,’ so they had to pay him by a certain date, whether he did a movie or not, so they wanted to give him Beverly Hills Cop. So he reads Beverly Hills Cop and he says, ‘Good script, but I gotta rewrite it.’ He rewrote it and the budget just doubled and we said, ‘We can’t spend [this] money.’ So we met with the heads of Paramount and they said, ‘What were you guys doing?’ And I said, ‘We gave it to Eddie Murphy, we wanted to give it to Eddie Murphy, but you said we couldn’t do it because you had a commitment with Stallone.’

So we flew to New Jersey, we previewed the script, we sat down with Eddie in his house and Don again tells the story of Beverly Hills Cop to him, which he had already looked at, and he committed to do it. The reason they were worried about Eddie Murphy was because the conventional wisdom is that an African-American actor can’t do more than $25 million at the box office. But that’s what Richard Pryor did, so Eddie was a TV star, he’d certainly done some movies, but he never carried a movie by himself. Him alone in a film was a risk. This movie was the highest-grossing R-rated movie at the time, it was the highest-grossing R-rated movie until The Hangover came out. Tickets were $3 then, so you can imagine how unique his talent is, how good the direction, how good the story was that people loved it.”

Stallone’s involvement with Beverly Hills Cop  has been discussed in the past, with the Rambo actor initially rewriting the script entirely and making it a straightforward action film. Given his vision for the film led to a ballooning budget, Paramount would pass on Stallone starring in Beverly Hills Cop , with Stallone taking the material and using it as the basis for his 1986 action film Cobra . The movie would be made on a budget nearly double that of Beverly Hills Cop , confirming Paramount’s concerns of his rewrites, and would receive mostly negative reviews from critics, though it would go on to become a box office success and garner a cult following in the years since.

The Beverly Hills Cop  franchise would even poke fun at this connection with the first sequel, Beverly Hills Cop II , in which Axel finds a poster of the Stallone film situated in Rosewood’s bedroom. Though considered the actor’s breakout role today, it’s interesting to look back on Paramount’s concerns of casting Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop  following his success leading the studio’s prior buddy cop hit 48 Hrs. , but thankfully for both the star and fans, the studio listened to producers Bruckheimer and Don Simpson and delivered one of comedy’s most iconic characters. While audiences await word on the long-awaited fourth film at Netflix, they can revisit the original Beverly Hills Cop  trilogy streaming on Showtime and Fubo now.

Source: GQ

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