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Eddie Murphy: The Sci-Fi Movie That Ruined His Career

Having enjoyed success on TV and in stand-up comedy, Murphy has also had several hit movies over the years like '48 Hrs.' where he starred opposite Nick Nolte and 'Beverly Hills Cop.' However, one movie derailed his acting career a bit. Let's take a look at the movie that almost ruined Murphy's career.

Eddie Murphy has had a long career. Having enjoyed success on TV and in stand-up comedy, Murphy has also had several hit movies over the years, like 48 Hrs., where he starred opposite Nick Nolte, and Beverly Hills Cop. The ’80s and ’90s were good for Murphy, and he had a lot of cinematic success. However, one movie derailed his acting career a bit. Let’s take a look at the movie that almost ruined Murphy’s career.

Eddie Murphy’s early career

Eddie Murphy dressed in a black t-shirt with white writing in front of a clay colored fireplace.
Eddie Murphy | Getty Images

Murphy began doing stand-up comedy in New York City. When he was only 19, he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1980. This turned out to be a smart career move for him. He quickly proved himself to be one of the show’s top performers. Some of Murphy’s most memorable characters on the show were Mister Robinson, Buckwheat from the Our Gang series, and a grumpy version of the animated clay character Gumby.

Before Murphy joined SNL, the ratings took a brutal hit due to the series creator and many writers leaving the show. However, when Murphy joined the cast, ratings for the show began to skyrocket. He is credited with saving SNL with his comedic timing and memorable performances. His success on the show helped launch Murphy’s big-screen career.

The movie that ruined Eddie Murphy’s film career

Murphy found a tremendous amount of success as an actor. However, in 2002, that all changed. The wildly successful actor and comedian found himself at the bottom of the A-list, and he had one movie to blame: The Adventures of Pluto Nash. This obscure and oddly written sci-fi comedy remains one of the biggest box office failures to this day.

The movie made a measly $7 million in worldwide box office sales during its theatrical release with a budget of $100 million. But why did the movie flop? According to Bombreport, the script suffered from many rewrites and a delayed theatrical release. Both factors combined could have been the downfall of The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

Many movies that are delayed often have issues when they are finally released, notwithstanding the most recent delays due to the pandemic. Whatever the reason, suffice to say that the effect was immediate, and Murphy’s career has never recovered to its former glory. 

That’s not to say that Murphy has had no success since then. In 2021, Murphy reprised his role as Akeem, among others, in Coming 2 America, the sequel to the 1988 film. Though it had lukewarm reviews, fans tuned in to see Murphy and Arsenio Hall reprise many of the same roles they played in the original. Even though Murphy’s film career isn’t quite what it once was, the actor seems focused on family life these days, and perhaps he welcomes the break from the back-to-back movies he filmed in the ’80s and ’90s.

Murphy’s big-screen hits


Eddie Murphy Can Thank Sylvester Stallone for His Breakout Role in ‘Beverly Hills Cop’

Murphy’s first major film, 48 Hrs., proved to be a roaring success. He followed that up with three more box office successes, Trading Places in 1983, Beverly Hills Cop in 1984, and The Golden Child in 1986. He left Saturday Night Live in 1984 to focus on his film and stand-up career.

In addition to sequels to 48 Hrs. and Beverly Hills Cop, Murphy flexed his stand-up muscles in Eddie Murphy Raw. Arguably one of Murphy’s most memorable films, Coming to America in 1988, featured Murphy playing four different roles in the movie. The characters featured Murphy and Arsenio Hall in prosthetic makeup. This formula was repeated later in his film The Nutty Professor, where he played several different characters with the use of prosthetic makeup.