Between 1982 and 1984, SNL’s Eddie Murphy exploded into Hollywood with 48 Hrs, Trading Places, and Beverly Hills Cop – all three of these comedy movies were released while he was still under 25 years old. He immediately became a huge star. Beverly Hills Cop was a massive hit and topped the 1984 box office charts, but it could have looked very different.
No one is really interested in Beverly Hills Cop for the action-thriller aspect, or the convoluted crime story – everyone loves it because Murphy is so funny. But a recently-released book about the successful talent agency CAA reveals that it could have been tonally very different, if someone else had starred in it.
The book centres around Michael Ovitz and Ron Meyer, and how they came to dominate Hollywood in the 80s and 90s with their roster of big-star clients. Meyer says; “In the early ’80s, I called Sly about an offer I had received for a movie that I was really excited about him doing. I knew that he probably wouldn’t want to do this film because it somewhat parodied his tough-guy image.”
Stallone says; “Ron told me, ‘Don’t change it,’ but I took the script and rewrote it as a kind of compromise, where the guy was action-oriented but he also had a wry sense of humor.” Meyer says; “Nobody wanted his version, so I begged him, ‘Please, do the original script.'” Stallone says; “I didn’t think I could pull it off. Then that ship sailed.”
Meyer concludes; “The movie was Beverly Hills Cop, and as everyone knows, it got made with Eddie Murphy, who became a big star off of it.” It’s easy to mock Stallone, but he was no stranger to screenwriting, having written the scripts to most of the Rocky and Rambo franchises. It also takes something to admit that he “couldn’t pull off” the humour of the Beverly Hills Cop script, and passing it over to the phenomenal comedic talent of Murphy.
If you’re a fan of Murphy and Stallone, check out our guide to the best 80s movies.