DAR Films: 7 Classic Eddie Murphy Roles

By @TrueGodImmortal

For me, Eddie Murphy is the greatest comedian and comedic actor of all time. I remember watching his films early on as a kid, and the laughs never seemed to stop. Eddie was on top of his game during the 80's and early 90's, starring in multiple hit films and earning the status as one of the biggest actors of the time. While Eddie was living it up on the big screen, many comedians were trying to follow in his footsteps, hoping to break the records that he set. Over the years, we've seen him play a lot of interesting characters, some better than others. Today, in the spirit of our previous Samuel L. Jackson article (more of those will come), we wanted to take a look at 7 of Eddie's most classic roles. We decided to leave out his animated roles (sorry, Donkey), but those are also appreciated. What are his 7 greatest movie roles? Let's take a look.

*Axel Foley
(Beverly Hills Cop 1-3)

-Of course, his star making turn in the only live action trilogy he's been involved in has to get mentioned. As a street smart cop who visits Beverly Hills to solve a murder, Eddie is at his best in this series. There are rumors of a fourth movie, but nothing has materialized as of yet, but the first Beverly Hills Cop is a true classic and easily one of the best Eddie movies. While the second and third overall didn't compare to the greatness of the first, what we saw in the first is more than enough to acknowledge Axel Foley as a legendary Eddie role.

*Ray Gibson

-If there was ever a performance that should go down in the Hall of Fame, it would be this one. Eddie was no longer in the business of making R-rated movies, or at least he was on the verge of leaving those in the past. This role showcased Eddie in two different time periods, as Ray Gibson, alongside Martin Lawrence's Claude Banks. This was an interesting role for Eddie, as it felt vintage, like in the late 80's, with Eddie delivering some of his most iconic lines and comedy in his filmography. We see Ray before he ends up in prison, Ray when he initially gets to prison, and how he manages through a long sentence before finally making a way out. For me, this is a favorite performance from Eddie, because he was magnetic on the screen and was probably the best comedically that he had ever been in a role that felt more like him than any other.

*James "Thunder" Early

-There isn't much to rave about in the musical, but Eddie was a true highlight in this film. Perhaps the only highlight in the film. I sat through this film once, but when the DVD released, I was forced to watch it again, a few times actually (note: if you dated a Beyonce fan, and more than likely, you have, you've seen this movie too). Luckily for me, the James Brown inspired performance from Eddie as singer James "Thunder" Early kept me intrigued a majority of the way. Whether he was performing on stage, singing, or providing classic facial expressions in various scenes, Eddie stole the show in this movie by far. I don't think there has ever been a performance from Eddie that had as many layers as this one. It isn't his greatest performance overall (comedy is his forte), but it is a very well executed performance that shocked many.

*Sherman Klump/Buddy Love
(The Nutty Professor)

-So, this choice is essentially based around the entire Nutty Professor series. Those two films were interesting in many ways, especially with Eddie playing the role of both the large and portly Sherman Klump and his slimmer "alter ego" Buddy Love. This is really a great contrast for Eddie, having to play two entirely separate characters with different dimensions and he executed it very well. His work starring as the rest of the family in the movie was actually pretty funny too, but the most notable performances have to come from the dual act of playing Klump and Buddy. Klump was funnier in a way, but Buddy left us with more quotes. Regardless, The Nutty Professor gave us the best of Eddie in two pivotal roles for his career in the 90's.

*Reggie Hammond
(48 Hrs)

-I was not a huge fan of Another 48 Hrs, but everything that was good about that movie came from Eddie and his comedy. That was the case with the first 48 Hrs, where Eddie played the loud talking, brash Reggie Hammond who is a convict that gets released from prison to help cooperate on a case. The comedy that Eddie provides in this role is hilarious, even if some of the scenarios in the film teeter around the uncomfortable territory. One of the most hilarious scenes comes in Torchy's, a redneck hangout where Reggie makes his presence felt. Though I'm not the biggest 48 Hrs fan, this was a big breakthrough role for Eddie, the first in his transition to film from television.

*Marcus Graham

-One of the most inspiring performances of his career, this romantic comedy is quite possibly the greatest movie of his career. To me, this is the greatest romantic comedy of all time (granted I haven't watched a LOT of them), and it isn't close. The plight of Marcus Graham, a smooth ladies' man that moves from lady to lady until he is stopped in his tracks by a woman that plays a similar game. The story here is fun, but the best part of the movie is the comedy and while Eddie balances his performance with the right blend of suave and comedic, he shines the brightest when caught in situations that aren't favorable to his character. Boomerang is the greatest romantic comedy ever and one of the greatest black films of all time. Simply put, there is no way you can talk the career of Eddie and not mention his legendary turn as Marcus Graham.

*Prince Akeem/Clarence/Randy Watson
(Coming to America)

-So essentially, this is mostly about his role as Prince Akeem, but there is no denying how powerful the other performances were in the film. Eddie was magnificent through this movie, his greatest work overall, as he weaves between being the barber Clarence and even singer Randy Watson, but of course, his best work here comes as Prince of Zamunda, Akeem. As the Prince, we see him go on a journey to find his queen in New York and he encounters so much on that journey. This isn't a hard hitting performance, or even a complex performance, this is Eddie at his very best, providing a masterful comedic experience for all the viewers. Coming To America is the GOAT comedy to me, and the biggest piece to the legacy of Eddie Murphy. For that alone, Prince Akeem is the best role of his career. 



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