A flagship detective comedy of the 80s, “Beverly Hills Cop” made Eddie Murphy a star on the big screen. However, he was not the first choice for the role of Axel Foley, far from it!
The Beverly Hills Cop: a hit comedy by Murphy
When you think of the movie The Beverly Hills Cop, we remember two things. Indeed, the first is, of course, its soundtrack, especially the main theme of the film. The second is, without question, Eddie Murphy. Thus, the New York artist brings freshness, energy, and devastating humor to a detective film that is altogether banal in its plot. Eddie Murphy was not, however, left to be a movie star. Indeed, in the 70s, he was more known for his stand-up shows and his hilarious sketches than anything else. It is moreover his humor that allows him to join Saturday Night Live. He even became the “savior” of the show since before his arrival, the famous American show plunged into the hearings.
This popularity brought him to the big screen in the early 80s, when he was barely 20 years old. It is therefore found in films that have become cults such as 48 hours or even An Armchair for Two (for which he will be nominated for the Golden Globes). But the best is yet to come since in 1984 he was the star of The Beverly Hills Cop. The film which follows the adventures of a somewhat hotheaded cop who is transferred to the famous city of the county of Los Angeles is a box office hit (315 million dollars in revenue for a budget of 15 million).
And to think that Eddie Murphy was not the first choice…
Sly in pole position
Originally, The Beverly Hills Cop is an idea straight out of the brain of Don Simpson, in 1977. Thus, the latter calls on screenwriter Danilo Bach to write a concrete script in order to submit it to the other producers of the Paramount who are Michael Eisner and Jerry Bruckheimer. In the beginning, the film is much more oriented toward action than comedy. The production is also trying to hire Mickey Rourke to camp Axel Foley in this sense. Only, the project is revised many times and accumulates delays. The actor then throws in the towel.
While a new screenwriter named Daniel Petrie Jr. rewrote the screenplay and made it the detective comedy that everyone knows today, Sylvester Stallone was in turn called upon. However, the star of the Rocky saga wants, as usual, to bring his personal touch to the project. He then proposes many rewrites, such as a refocusing on the action, a change of name of the character, and many more dramatic scenes. Judging the company too expensive, Paramount said stop and put an end to the brief adventure of Sylvester Stallone in The Beverly Hills Cop. A bad thing for a good since Sly will recover all his ideas to shape it in one of his most famous films: Cobra.
While filming was to begin only two weeks after this ultimate turnaround, the producers hire in extremis a director (Martin Brest) and Eddie Murphy, therefore. A big stroke of luck since the actor had almost joined the distribution… of Ghostbusters, another big hit from the 80s. Indeed, the role of Winston Zeddemore (finally camped by Ernie Hudson) had been specially written for him.