Actor Eddie Murphy is making headlines with yet another dramatic acting role, and this is a role that could possibly lead to an Oscar nomination.
The Bruce Beresford-directed drama, Mr. Church, places Eddie Murphy in the titular role of a movie that focuses on a mysterious stranger hired to become a caregiver for a terminally ill mother.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, this particular film will offer Eddie Murphy “his best shot at winning the Academy’s attention” since the 1996 film The Nutty Professor.
Eddie Murphy in his 1st-ever podcast interview: on hits/misses, today’s world, Oscars & his big comeback—in a drama! https://t.co/niT0AXfiW5
— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) August 20, 2016
Did Eddie have his mind on getting another chance at becoming an Oscar-winning actor when he decided to work on Mr. Church as the leading star? During an “Awards Chatter” podcast interview with the longtime comedian-turned-actor, Eddie Murphy made it clear that his decision to play Mr. Church was not part of a calculated strategy targeting next year’s Oscars ceremony.
“This popped up out of nowhere and I had a really strong emotional response to it. I never did anything like this. It was something I could do where there was no pressure at all because there was no expectation because this isn’t a funny thing. The engine of this thing isn’t my sense of humor or what I do or my performance.”
Quite a few fans and critics may have wondered when Eddie Murphy would make his return to the big-screen, especially since he has been away from it for several years now. With the exception of award ceremonies and his highly-anticipated appearance on the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special, the world has not seen very much of Eddie Murphy as a performing actor.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) October 13, 2015
He last starred alongside Kerry Washington and the late Ruby Dee in the 2012 film, A Thousand Words.
A Thousand Words// Eddie Murphy…2012 good movie pic.twitter.com/9sWVt5Jy
— ∆NATOLY (@anatoliy_anatol) July 7, 2012
According to his podcast interview, Eddie Murphy took a break from movie sets to give moviegoers a break from him.
“After a while, the audience needs a break and you need a break, too. You start taking each other for granted. I’m like, ‘I know what you all like!’ And the audience is like, ‘Oh yeah, I know what he’s gonna do!’ So you’re taking each other for granted and the next thing you know you’re starring in Pluto Nash.”
The 2002 film The Adventures of Pluto Nash was one of Eddie Murphy’s biggest box-office flops thus far. With an estimated budget of $100 million, according to Box Office Mojo, the movie only made $7 million worldwide.
— Yahoo TV (@YahooTV) August 20, 2016
I think Pluto Nash was the beginning of something bad for the quality of Eddie Murphy films that followed. His formula stopped working
— Lancestipher (@Lancestipher) August 17, 2016
Weird that Eddie Murphy didn’t have a big meltdown after Pluto Nash failed. He took his lumps and recovered.
— Social Justice Prime (@aston_wave) July 19, 2016
Whether he was starring as himself or an animated animal, Eddie Murphy eventually placed himself in a box when it came to his versatility. A substantial number of fans and critics would expect Eddie to deliver punchlines and witty humor in comedies while occasionally showing a quick dose of dramatic acting along the way.
However, that perception was drastically changed when Eddie Murphy starred in the 2006 Oscar-winning musical, Dreamgirls.
Eddie Murphy should’ve received the Oscar for ‘Dreamgirls’ over Jennifer Hudson (or reward them both)
— SirRatchettness (@SirRatchettness) August 1, 2016
Seriously. How good is Eddie Murphy in #Dreamgirls? He needs another break so he can do yano, GOOD movies again.
— Paula Jean McNamee (@Paula_J_Mc) July 23, 2016
Eddie played Jimmy “Thunder” Early in the Bill Condon-directed film, which featured an ensemble cast of such stars as Beyonce Knowles and Danny Glover along with Oscar winners Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Hudson.
Throughout the movie, there were several hilarious moments when Eddie Murphy showed off his comic timing and ability to deliver witty punchlines like a skilled artist. His overall performance, though, was definitely not based on his comedic acting chops. Most people that saw Dreamgirls would agree that the dark side of Jimmy Early took Eddie Murphy to previously unexplored territory with his acting.
Eddie’s impressive transformation into that particular character did not go unnoticed during award season. He eventually received Critics’ Choice, SAG, and Golden Globe awards for his performance. With that type of track record, he was expected to walk away with the Oscar for “Best Supporting Actor” as well. However, the longtime actor, Alan Arkin, received that coveted award for his performance in Little Miss Sunshine.
Eddie Murphy may not have planned a strategic return to the Oscars ceremony by joining the cast of Mr. Church. That does not mean, though, that he does not want one. He even stated that he has “a table all ready where it would look great” in his home.
With over three decades in the movie business, Eddie joked that the Academy would eventually have to give him something, even if it is just an honorary Oscar when he is an elderly actor. During the podcast interview, he showed off his ingenious comic timing yet again by explaining what the 90-year-old Eddie Murphy would do if he received an honorary Oscar.
“I’m gonna come out a 90-year-old dude in a sky-blue tuxedo – there’s a reason why it’s sky blue… When they give me the award and they hand it to me, I’m just gonna stand there and urinate on myself in front of the world… and just stand there. And then they’re gonna have to play that music and…usher me off. That’s gonna be my moment. Don’t make me wait!”
Perhaps Eddie Murphy can build an even bigger fan base by taking full advantage of social media the way that many other celebrities have in recent years. However, the 55-year-old actor is apparently enjoying life “off of the grid” when it comes to the Internet. In addition to not reading anything negative about himself or his movies, Eddie claims that he does not read newspapers or corporate magazines, get involved with social media or even have a computer or email account.
“I don’t need to be on social media interacting with the fans, tweeting that I just ate strawberries. Nothing has made me go, ‘Oh, yeah, get me on too, I want to be on there with y’all! I just had strawberries too!’ ‘I’m going to the store now!’ ‘Look at this picture of this baby!’ I don’t feel any pressure to live up to any whatever – expectation – anyone may have.”
Mr. Church, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, also stars actress Britt Robertson (The Longest Ride, Tomorrowland) and Natascha Elhone (The Truman Show, Solaris) as Charlotte and her terminally ill mother, Marie.
Only time will tell if Eddie Murphy receives an Oscar nomination for his performance in Mr. Church, which is scheduled for theatrical release in the United States for September 16. With the end of the year quickly approaching, this film could very well end up with multiple nominations depending on how it is received by the Academy.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)