After blowing up in the 1980s as a stand-up comedy act and movie star, Eddie Murphy worked steadily on the big screen for nearly 30 years, typically releasing at least one movie almost every year since his big screen debut in 48 Hrs. in 1982. But his comedy star began to fade in the early 2000s, and Murphy wasn’t making the kind of quality comedies he’d become known for. Though it may not have seemed like it at the time, this was something Eddie Murphy was keenly aware of, which is why he took a step back from acting in 2011. And it turns out that we may have the Razzies to thank for it.

After shooting A Thousand Words in 2011, Eddie Murphy decided to take a break from acting. In a recent appearance on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron, the comedian explained why. Murphy said (via The Playlist):

“The plan was—cause I had stopped making movies in 2011. I was like, Let me take a break from movies. Because I was making these shitty movies, and it was like, ‘This shit ain’t fun.’ They giving me Razzies; I think these motherfuckers gave me the Worst Actor Ever Razzie or some shit [laughs]. It’s like, ‘Maybe it’s time to take a break? [laughs]”

If you’re unaware, the Razzies are given out annually to the worst movies and performances of the year. They’re essentially the anti-Oscars. And though it might initially sound like Murphy may have been miffed about getting those Razzies, the conversation is a lighthearted one where he’s being amusingly self-deprecating in the way that a lot of comedians are in interviews. Murphy continued:

“When you get the Worst Actor Ever Razzie? Maybe I need to pull back [laughs]. I was only going to take a break for a year and then all of a sudden six years go by, and I’m sitting on the couch and [thinking], ‘You know, I could sit on this couch and not get off it, but I don’t wanna leave it, the last bunch of shit [audiences] seen me do was bullshit.’ So, I was like, ‘Let me get off the couch and do some stuff and remind ’em that I’m funny and if I wanna return to the couch, I could do that.'”

Murphy may have his timelines mixed up, because Mr. Church played the Tribeca Film Festival in April of 2016, so his break was more along the lines of four years. But even so, that’s a long time to take a break from work. It seems to have done him good though, because he’s only made three movies in the past five years, and they’ve been significantly better than the kind of stuff he was putting out in the years before he stepped back for a bit.

Though Mr. Church didn’t make any huge waves after debuting on the festival circuit, Netflix’s Dolemite is My Name served as a stellar comeback movie. And the recently released Coming 2 America not only landed some big viewership at Amazon, but it’s not half-bad for a comedy sequel arriving 33 years after the original. The question is whether Murphy will still return to the well again for Beverly Hills Cop 4, or if he’s got some other tricks up his sleeve. The comedian’s return to stand-up is something that has also been discussed, and he’s still hoping to make it happen, but probably not until the pandemic is over. Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see what Eddie Murphy’s next movie will be.

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