Beverly Hills – When you look for the definition of sequel in the dictionary, Eddie Murphy’s name and photo should be right next to it. Never in the history of Hollywood has one actor been so successful in making multi-million dollar follow up movies and in some, playing multiple roles in the process. Think ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ ‘48 Hours,’ ‘Nutty Professor,’ and ‘Shrek 1, 2 and now Shrek the Third.’|“I have been in a lot of sequels. I think I’ve been in more than any other actor,” Murphy tells the LA Sentinel. “It’s cool to be in movies that people want to see. You don’t have to promote this film or attempt to sell people on it. You just let everyone know when it’s coming out and that’s always great as opposed to having to scream, “Like me, like me, like me” joked Murphy.
No doubt, you’ll like Murphy and ‘Shrek the Third.’ All the characters and actors are back including Mike Myers as Shrek, Cameron Diaz as Fiona, his wife, Antonio Banderas as Shrek’s cat pal, Puss in Boots and Justin Timberlake as King Arthur. It’s an animated adventure you’ll want to see again and again and again. It’s just not that giant green ogre that captures your heart, but it’s also his fast-talking, loveable little snagged tooth jackass named “Donkey” – or when Eddie Murphy brings this character to life and Shrek is around, it’s pronounced with a long everything, DONNNNNNNNNNNNNNN- KEY.
Why do ‘Shrek’ fans love Donkey so much? “He’s the eternal optimist,” says Murphy “He’s so optimistic but on the surface has no clue, but if you listen in the movie – he’s the one with all the wisdom. He’s the one getting Shrek back on track, telling Shrek to look at the situation a different way. He’s very funny, how could you not like him?”
In ‘Shrek the Third,’ the story picks up with newlyweds Shrek and wife, Fiona, facing a crisis. Her father, King Harold, is sick and Shrek is looked at as the heir to the land of Far, Far Away. The beloved Ogre doesn’t want to give up his swamp living, so he recruits his friends Donkey and Puss in Boots to figure out another plan as he tries to get out of being heir to the throne. As you might expect, the donkey and the cat get things all tangled up and even they get switched around – thanks to a bad spell – and Donkey becomes Puss and vice versa.
“It’s my favorite part of the movie,” says Murphy. “It cracks me up to hear Donkey’s voice coming out of that cat – I don’t know if it was the hat (Puss wears) or what, but that really tickled me.” (Eddie Murphy releases that signature laugh). Here’s the part you really want to watch for: Another duet with Donkey and Puss. In ‘Shrek 2,’ it was Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” In ‘Shrek the Third,” they break into song singing a cover of a 1970’s Sly and the Family Stone classic, “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mi Self Again)” That’s right, Murphy sings in a movie again and the soundtrack featuring the song arrived in stores on this week.
A singing Eddie Murphy quickly takes me back to ‘Dreamgirls” – another recent big movie for legendary comedian which earned Murphy a Golden Globe award for best supporting actor, an Oscar nomination too, but no Oscar. (‘Little Miss Sunshine’s Actor Alan Arkin won instead of Murphy) Much was read into the fact that Murphy left the ceremony early after he didn’t win. Murphy’s rep, Arnold Robinson told the press, “Murphy had always planned to leave after his category was announced to spend more time with his family.”
Now, I must tell you, in our one-on-one interview, Murphy is laid back, in a great mood and extremely playful considering all the drama surrounding his personal life these days (Is he or isn’t he the Daddy of Melanie Brown aka Scary Spice’s baby girl – a child which just so happened to be born on Murphy’s birthday, April 3. Brown is taking Murphy to court to take a paternity test and Murphy’s new girl, film executive Tracey Edmonds has told several media outlets that Murphy will take care of the child, if he’s indeed the father. Murphy has said very little with the exception early on that he wants a paternity test.)Fact is - this could have been one amazing year for Actor Eddie Murphy. In his 25 years in the business, never has so much praise been heaped upon him - not even during his so called early days when the Brooklyn, New York born talent was named the hottest young comedian. He was a regular on ‘Saturday Night Live” at the age of 19. His skits, quit frankly, rocked the show. He made ‘SNL’ must-see TV.
Murphy is 46 now and he’s had his share of ups and downs. Although he has a few stinkers at the box office (Pluto Nash & Norbit) and who hasn’t, he remains one of Hollywood most bankable stars commanding $20 million dollars per film and even earning those coveted back end deals. (For the record, although critics panned ‘Norbit,” it turned out phat returns pulling in $147 million. Murphy laughed all the way to the bank)
With the critically acclaimed ‘Dreamgirls,’ Murphy was playing a James Brown-like character and he seemed to have a lock on awards show season. It was Jennifer Hudson winning Best Actor and Murphy collecting trophies for best supporting actor. Their routine seemed to catch on award show after award show, but something went awry at the Oscars for Murphy. When his name wasn’t called, when he lost, Murphy with his gorgeous girl in tow left the Kodak Theatre in the middle of the show. His longtime friend and comedian Chris Rock says “Eddie was robbed.”
When asked if he has any regrets about this year, Murphy tells the Sentinel, “not a one.” “First of all, I don’t live with any regrets,” says Murphy with a serious tone. “I’ve had a wonderful 46 years and the last year has been wonderful.” For all those who were worried, you should know that Murphy’s head is up high and he’s feeling “great” about what’s ahead of him.
His schedule is already booked through 2010. At press time, he has eight projects and counting on his slate including ‘Beverly Hills Cop IV’ and “Fantasy Island” – where he’ll play multiple characters in a big screen adaptation of the primetime soap which featured the white-suited Ricardo Montalban, the island’s owner and his little friend, Tattoo who’s trademark line, “De plane, De plane’ made the show a huge hit.
“I’m always working on new stuff and I just want to keep it rolling, “said Murphy. “I’ve been making movies 25, almost 26 years and I just want to keep it rolling.” As for making “Shrek 4,” Murphy says “absolutely” count him in. “These are great movies to make. They’re well written, visually captivating and they work on all different levels. They’re incredibly entertaining for both children and adults.”
“I will be in Shrek movies forever until they stop making Shreks until they say they don’t wanna do anymore.”