Eddie Murphy x WaPo

Credit: Larsen & Talbert for The Washington Post

You would think that, as a comedy legend and a man notorious for being outspoken, an interview with Eddie Murphy would have plenty of outrageous moments.

And yet, you’d be mistaken. Perhaps that’s just the maturity that comes with being a 54-year old man, or perhaps Eddie has always been that way and the public projection of himself doesn’t truly reflect the person he really is.

With Murphy set to receive the The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center – the highest honor in American comedy achievement – next week, the Washington Post profiled Eddie Murphy for their online lead story, “The Real King of Comedy.” In the interview, writer Geoff Edgers touches a number of personal and professional moments for Murphy, from his childhood occurrences to his box-office bombs and more. You can head over to Washington Post here to read the complete interview in full, but here are a few choice gems from the article.

On possibly doing a stand-up show for the first time in nearly three decades:

“Every now and then when I think about it, I think, ‘What would I even talk about onstage?’ It’s never been, ‘I wonder if I’m funny. I wonder if I can come up with jokes.’ It’s more, ‘What would it be like without the leather suit (from RAW) and the anger?’”

Why he didn’t perform on Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary show:

“(The Bill Cosby accusations were) the biggest thing in the news at the time. I can see why they thought it would be funny (for me to play Bill Cosby), and the sketch that Norm [Macdonald] wrote was hysterical… [But] if you get up there and you crack jokes about him, you’re just hurting people. You’re hurting him. You’re hurting his accusers. I was like, ‘Hey, I’m coming back to SNL for the anniversary, I’m not turning my moment on the show into this other thing.’”

On how race may have impacted how much further his career in Hollywood could’ve gone:

“Even though I’ve had some success in the movies, I’ve never turned into a white man in Hollywood… If you’re black and you’re in this business, it’s different than if you’re a white guy in this business. And it’s not just me. How many movies has Denzel done with Steven Spielberg? How many movies has Will Smith done with Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese? How many movies has Tom Hanks done with Steven Spielberg? How many movies has Leonardo DiCaprio done with Martin Scorsese?”

On how his divorce from ex-wife Nicole made him stronger:

“Getting divorced didn’t sour me on the institution of marriage. [But] I’ll never get divorced again. That’s a shit deal for anybody.”

Dreamgirls helped him push through. He channeled his pain into his stunning portrayal of (Jimmy “Thunder”) Early.

“They say, ‘Oh, this is great, this is his best acting, it looked like you were really crying on the inside,’ ” Murphy says and pauses. “I was.”