Eddie Murphy: Acting Eased Pain of Divorce

The actor says shooting Dreamgirls helped take him to 'a different place emotionally'

Photo: Jill Johnson/jpi

Eddie Murphy says working on the upcoming movie Dreamgirls helped him deal with the painful end of his 12-year marriage.

Speaking on The Oprah Winfrey Show on Monday, Murphy, 45, said he was grateful for the opportunity to get in character during the shoot and thus enjoy a reprieve from the drama of his personal life.

“I don’t want to make it seem like I was Joe Actor,” he said. “I was going through a big divorce then. … It was really good because I had all that going on … (but filming) would take me to a different place emotionally.”

The Nutty Professor and Shrek star separated from his wife Nicole in 2005; their divorce was finalized in April. They have five children.

Murphy is currently dating singer Melanie Brown, also known as Scary Spice of the Spice Girls.

The other stars of Dreamgirls also appeared on Oprah on Monday. Beyoncé Knowles, the film’s lead, told Winfrey she lost 20 pounds for the role of Deena Jones (modeled loosely on Diana Ross) without being asked.

“I figured, in the ’60s, Twiggy was the hot model, and Diana and Cher and all the legends were thinner than I am,” she said. “So I decided I wanted to lose weight and make a physical transformation. And it was difficult because I love food. I love to eat. I did a fast – a master cleanse for 14 days. Everybody was eating Krispy Kremes around me. I was grouchy, but I did it, and I lost the weight.”

Winfrey also welcomed former American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson, who stars in the film as well. Hudson was criticized by Simon Cowell on the FOX show, but Cowell backtracked on Monday.

“I feel my criticism has probably had a significant part in your career, because the buzz on you is huge,” Cowell told Hudson in a taped message. “I feel we had a very small part in what’s happened in your life, and please thank me when you get your Oscar.”

Dreamgirls opens Dec. 15 in New York City and Los Angeles and on Dec. 25 nationwide.

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