How Eddie Murphy Made Beverly Hills Cop Into A $300 Million Movie
July 8, 2022
In 1984 “Beverly Hills Cop” cemented Eddie Murphy as a superstar, capable of transforming a mediocre script into a $300 million movie. Prior to “Beverly Hills Cop”, Murphy enjoyed early movie success with “48 hours” and “Trading Places.” However, the fish-out-of-water story of a Detroit cop going to Beverly Hills made him an American icon. Even so, Murphy remained far from producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer’s first choice.
Ironically, it’s hard to imagine the film becoming a massive hit with anyone else at the helm. Murphy’s comedic timing and unparalleled powers of improvisation made “Beverly Hills Cop” a huge success. Here are the behind-the-scenes stories and how Murphy turned it from mess to masterpiece.
A Dubious Concept
Many of the stories surrounding the pre-production of “Beverly Hills Cop” indicate a disaster in the making. Even the very basic plot of the movie became contested. Disney CEO Michael Eisner claimed he came up with the idea when a cop with "an air of superiority and quiet condescension" gave him a ticket as he drove a dilapidated station wagon through Hollywood. Supposedly, that interaction inspired him to buy a new Mercedes and the idea for a movie. Don Simpson disputed that story, asserting it was his idea.
Finding Axel Foley
Despite the film’s conventional setup, it took an astounding 5 five years for the powers that be to find a script they liked. Eventually, a melding of Danillo Bach’s initial idea and Daniel Petrie Jr’s additions satisfied the Paramount producers. The next step was finding the star and their first call went to Mickey Rourke. Unfortunately for them, Rourke strung them along just long enough to collect $400,000 on a holding deal before passing.
Next up? Sylvester Stallone. Apparently, when Rocky received the script in the mail he thought it was a joke and then proceeded to put his quintessential Stallone touches on it. In his version, the movie opened with a massive cold open action sequence akin to “Saving Private Ryan.” He also wanted to end the movie with a game of chicken involving a Ferrari and a freight train. Conflicting stories point to the action star leaving the film over the wrong type of orange juice or the studio realizing his version would cost a fortune.
After briefly considering Al Pacino and James Caan, producers finally fell ass-backward into the ideal fit. Director Martin Brest, who required endless badgering to take the job, quickly realized whatever Murphy came up with on the spot was miles better than whatever was on the page.
The “supercop” speech in which Foley described what happened at the strip club was completely ad-libbed. During that scene, John Ashton had to pinch himself to stop laughing, and even then, you can see him nearly losing it. Apparently, many Murphy improvisations were ruined, thanks to laughing in front of and behind the camera. Here are a few gems you know weren’t in the original script.
“I've never been in a cell that had a phone in it. Can I stay for a while, 'cause I ordered some pizza?”
Jenny Summers: [about Axel] What are you gonna do to him?
Victor Maitland: I think you should be more worried about what we're going to do with you.
Axel Foley: Yeah, Jenny, don't worry about me. We got cocaine and coffee here. We're gonna get wired and have a big party.
Axel Foley : [Posing as a security inspector] I do security checks all over the nation! And with the exception of Cleveland, this place has the worst security IN THE NATION!
Even the unforgettable “banana in a tailpipe” was initially supposed to be a potato but thanks to Murphy’s comedic genius, we got one of the all-time lines. There’s been talk of “Beverly Hills Cop 4” in the works. Hopefully, it will come with heaters like “You know, this is the cleanest and nicest police car I've ever been in in my life. This thing's nicer than my apartment.”