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Eddie Murphy talks Dolemite, promises his SNL greatest hits on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Eddie Murphy, Jimmy Kimmel
Screenshot: Jimmy Kimmel Live

Jimmy Kimmel’s been bringing in a lot of big local talent for his week-long stint hosting his talk show in Brooklyn, but he capped off the week with one of Bushwick’s most famous sons on Thursday with Eddie Murphy. Murphy got two full segments and was characteristically laid-back for most of the interview, reminiscing first about the joys and terrors of growing up in Brooklyn: vomiting on a Coney Island trip to a carnival ride called the Hellhole; he and brother Charlie getting their treasured kangol hats stomped on; an insanely dangerous-and-fun-sounding street game called “Hot Peas And Butter.” At one point casually tossing aside the lower back pillow from his chair, the now 58-year old Murphy was as relaxed and confident as you can be when you’re Eddie Murphy, your career is resurgent, and you’re holding court back on your home turf.

Speaking of home turf and old stomping grounds, Murphy shared with Kimmel details of him returning both to the stand-up stage, and Saturday Night Live, which he’ll be hosting on December 21 after an absence of 35 years from the show that helped launch the stunningly young and talented Murphy to superstardom. (He didn’t mention the upcoming Beverly Hills Cop 4 or Coming 2 America, but Murphy’s going to be back as Axel Foley and Akeem as well.) As for SNL, Murphy was pretty forthcoming about his plans to give the people what they presumably want, telling Kimmel he’s hoping to do 1980s greatest hits characters like Mr. Robinson, Gumby, and Buckwheat, plus he told Kimmel he’s looking “for some reason to do” stilted TV pitchman-pimp Velvet Jones which, hey, Eddie can do whatever Eddie wants.

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Along those lines, Murphy was also happy (or as happy as the serenely guarded Eddie Murphy gets in interviews these days) when Kimmel told him that his biopic of comic idol Rudy Ray Moore, Dolemite Is My Name, was generating both good reviews and even some Oscar buzz. “Oh, that’s great,” Murphy responded noncommittally, telling Kimmel that he really doesn’t read his reviews. Which is probably wise, considering the last few decades of his big screen work, although critics (including our own Katie Rife) have been almost unanimously happy to see Murphy seemingly trying again in his lovingly recreated tribute to cult comic and very unlikely martial arts movie star Moore. Explaining how the real Moore initially scorned Murphy’s first, long-ago attempt to get Dolemite made (Moore demanded they do a stand-up tour together instead), Murphy admitted that, having just done The Adventures Of Pluto Nash at the time, he could see why Moore might have imagined that that Eddie might not have the juice to get such a uniquely personal project into orbit.

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.