Being Eddie Murphy means never having to say you’re bored. Earlier in the year he couldn’t walk down the street without a bodyguard. For his most recent public appearance—a smashing success, by anyone’s standards—even a police guard was not enough. While Murphy was autographing copies of his new album, Eddie Murphy: Comedian (and the back of an occasional well-filled blouse) in a record store in the posh Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., some 2,000 fans were trying to push their way inside. In their bubbly pubescent eagerness, they managed to push a cop inside—right through a plate-glass window. Ah, the heady perks of superstardom!
Enough to give pause, one would think, even to the most immodest of quadruple-threat millionaires (TV, movies, records, concerts). Not Eddie Murphy, who’s been through a lot lately. “What kind of a year has it been?” the 22-year-old sassmaster mused recently. “Well, I did two movies—48 Hrs. and Trading Places. I did the Grammys, the Oscars, the Emmys. I did a concert tour. I did a season of Saturday Night Live. I made a five-movie deal with Paramount for $15 million. And I formed my own production company.” About the only thing he doesn’t do is windows—and his fans seem more than willing to take care of that little detail.
This is not to suggest that 1983 was perfect for Murphy. Now that he’s one of the bigs, he’s starting to hear the digs about the size of his hat. In a rebuttal of sorts, he invokes the sacred name of Johnny Carson—”Carson said that you don’t change, the people around you do. It’s true.”
Okay. That’s his opinion. The facts are: He’s black, he’s bad, his bankbook is beautiful, he talks dirty—and we just can’t get enough of him. What’s the story?
According to a theory advanced by SNL executive producer Dick Ebersol, his eyes have it. Whatever Murphy’s doing—beating up a bar full of white trash in 48 Hrs. or, in his raunchy HBO special, dumping on everyone from Stevie Wonder to the ate Elvis Presley—he gets away with it because of the smile that’s always dancing in those big browns. After all, who else would you pay actual money to just to hear him tell you to get f-worded?
Not that he sometimes isn’t actually sincere with the get-f-worded expression. In fact, he’s about to tell television to get f-worded.
That’s right. After this SNL season, no more boob tube. “I’m retiring from TV at 22,” he said in a recent interview. “Never again. No weeklies or specials. I may pop up on a talk show now and then. I don’t like feeling restricted. There are things I can’t do on TV. Back when this show started, if someone told me I had to do something I didn’t want to, they would say, f —- you, you have to. I don’t have to put up with bulls—- anymore. I want to do my concerts and albums and moves. I want to do my stuff.” He’s not bragging. No smile in his eye. He means it. No more bored, never no more.