The "Dolemite Is My Name" star also talks about the unlikely film's genesis, ventriloquism and turning down "We Are the World" appearance to "Party All the Time."
All of a sudden Eddie Murphy is everywhere again, and Jimmy Kimmel is all of us in just how excited he is to have the legendary comedian returning to form with a standup special, a new film and even a return to the "Saturday Night Live" stage.
Kimmel could not stop himself from fanboying all over Murphy during his Thursday night appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" but it was so earnest and sincere it came off as charming.
Considering how influential Murphy was to an entire generation of comedians, it's not a huge surprise that Kimmel would be so excited to talk to him about his huge comeback to the spotlight.
That return was a long-time coming on several fronts. Murphy is returning to standup after years away, he spent 15 years developing his new Netflix film "Dolemite Is My Name" and he told Kimmel it's been 35 years since he graced the "SNL" stage. He's set to return for the show's Christmas episode on December 21.
While there's no musical guest slated yet, Stevie Wonder has publicly said he'd be willing to do it. The two men have a lot of history together, including a massive missed opportunity for Eddie Murphy back during the heyday of his career.
"I was at Stevie Wonder's studio and I was working on music," Murphy told Kimmel. "He was like, 'Hey, come over. We're doing this thing.' And I was like, 'Hey man, I'm recording the song, 'Party All the Time.'"
So he opted not to step over to the project Wonder was working on. "Then I realized afterward what it was and I felt like an idiot," Murphy admitted. He'd just turned down an appearance in the song and music video for "We Are the World."
Luckily for Murphy, that was one of the few times he missed the mark in his career. Even his early love of ventriloquism, was something he was savvy enough to know wasn't going to be the thing that makes him. Nevertheless, he has incorporated it into his work, including his iconic standup special "Delirious."
There's no word on whether or not ventriloquism will join Murphy on his return to the standup stage, but one thing that won't be there is nerves or intimidation about living up to his well-earned status as one of the greatest of all time in the standup comedy arena.
"I don't be worrying about stuff like that," Murphy said of trying to live up to his own legacy. "I tend to think constructively. If I'm doing something creative, I'm thinking about making it as funny as possible because I want to shut shit down when I do it. I don't be thinking like, 'Oh what's gonna happen? What are they gonna say? Are they gonna put me on the YouTube? I don't know, that's just part of the world now."
He's sure to make a huge mark on YouTube with his much-anticipated return to "Saturday Night Live." Even better, he was totally candid with Kimmel about some of his classic characters he'd like to see return with him.
Many "SNL" alums resist returning to some of their most famous characters when they return to host, and considering it's been more than three decades since Murphy has been on that stage, no one really knew what to expect.
But when Kimmel asked him if he had any plans to revive any of his most famous characters from his star-making turn on the sketch show in the 1980s, Murphy was all for it, or at least hopeful.
"I'm gonna do Gumby," he said confidently, "And I'm trying to figure out some reason to do Velvet Jones." But he didn't stop there.
"And, uh, Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood," he continued, referencing his inner-city parody of Mr. Rogers. "And a funny Buckwheat sketch."
It sounds like Murphy is going to be bringing back basically all the classics if he has anything to say about it. And quite frankly, considering he basically carried "SNL" on his shoulders through the early '80s, who's going to be the one to tell him no?
That said, we're just as excited about whatever new Murphy has up his sleeves, too. The classics are great, but Murphy has one of the most exciting creative minds in entertainment, and clearly he can tap into some pretty unexpected places for inspiration.
Who is Dolemite?
If he wasn't willing to follow his own comedic instincts no matter what anyone might say, he might never have made his latest project, which is already receiving widespread critical acclaim, the Netflix film "Dolemite Is My Name." Even the originator of the Dolemite character had a hard time imagining why anyone would want to make or watch this project, which is why Murphy said it took him so long to make it happen.
"About 15 years ago I approached him about it," Murphy said of comedian Rudy Ray Moore, but he had no interest in signing off on a Dolemite movie. "He was like, 'Man, let's go on tour together. They want to see us on stage, man.'"
Moore was an underground comedian in the 1960s and '70s who self-financed and starred in a series of films based on this pimp character he'd used in his standup routine named Dolemite.
"His movies started out, they were kind of like stoner pictures," Murphy explained. "People would smoke weed and watch his movies and be like, 'Hey look, you can see the microphone come in the shot.' So that's why people started watching them early on."
But Murphy came to really love and appreciate Moore's commitment to the character and the fact he self-financed these films. "He became one of my heroes," Murphy said. "He's a total inspirational figure."
And yet, Murphy could not convince Moore that anyone would want to watch a movie about the making of those Dolemite movies. "I think the idea of a movie about him sounded ridiculous," Murphy said.
When Kimmel seemed surprised that Moore would resist such a project from the likes of an Eddie Murphy, the comedian had the perfect response. "I might have been coming off a movie like 'Pluto Nash' or something," he laughed. "He was like, 'Nah, they ain't making no movie like that.'"
Finally, though, he relented and now the film based on this blaxploitation character he created is sitting pretty with a 98 percent approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes (92 percent from audiences).
After a brief theatrical release, "Dolemite Is My Name" is available for Netflix subscribers to stream beginning today.
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