Eddie Murphy on What Michael Jackson, Prince, and Elvis Had in Common: ‘The ‘Recipe for Early Exit’

From The Haunted Mansion and Norbit to earlier career triumphs like Coming to America, Beverly Hills Cop, and his celebrated standup special Delirious, Eddie Murphy is one of the most well-known actor/comedians today. He’s even recorded a few songs, including the critically condemned but well-remembered duet with Michael Jackson, “Whatzupwitu.” 

Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy | Christopher Polk / Staff

Though Murphy remains a significant name in the biz, he hasn’t appeared in many movies recently, and it’s been ages since the legendary comedian has graced fans with a standup special. During an interview with Vanity Fair, Murphy discussed his career and his family life, noting that he ensures the former never overtakes the latter. 

Eddie Murphy talks about what’s next 

After recently hosting SNL, fans and industry peers alike began to ask the same question, “Is this the beginning of Murphy’s comedy resurrection?” When asked what’s next, Murphy told Vanity Fair: 

“I haven’t gotten down that road yet. Yeah, the future is always, always there. Just like I said, I want to stay the person that I am and spend as much time as I can with my family, and the people that I love. You know, just do me. “

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Murphy went on to explain that so many of the people he rose to stardom with — so many of the legends that defined the ‘80s and ‘90s are dead. He said:

“So many of my contemporaries are dead, like the people that came on the scene when I came on the scene in the ’80s. The people that I knew around my age—that had impact in their areas—they’re mostly…they’re gone. Michael…Prince…and Whitney, those are my contemporaries. And they’re gone.”

Murphy | Vanity Fair

Murphy notes that an ‘all-consuming’ career tends to spell disaster 

Murphy went on to speak about Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Prince, and other legends whose careers were their universe — who lived and breathed the life of an entertainer. He said: 

“Without getting into the logistics of what they did, as to why they’re not here, what they all had in common was that their career, their life as artists, was all-consuming. That was that. The center of their whole shit, their life revolved around them as artists. Everything else suffered as a result of that. Your personal relationships, and your finances, and all that stuff. Substance abuse problems. All that stuff [happens] because show business can’t be what’s at the center. Especially if you get to reach these highest levels, and you’re Michael Jackson or you’re Prince, or you’re Elvis. If you’re sitting on that, and show business is everything, that’s the recipe for early exit.”

Murphy | Vanity Fair

Though the phrase “recipe for early exit” may be a bit morbid, it doesn’t make it dishonest. And, maybe partially as a result of all these lives gone too soon, Murphy is focused on keeping the center of his universe disassociated from his work.