Celebrate Eddie Murphy’s birthday with a rewatch of Beverly Hills Cop – the highest-grossing US film of ‘84 domestically, and which has taken over $234 million at the US box office off a $15 million budget.
But did you know…
1) Murphy wasn’t the first choice for Axel Foley. Both Mickey Rourke and Sylvester Stallone were at one point attached to the project. Rourke signed a $400,000 holding contract, meaning he was unable to take on any other roles whilst changes to the script were made, but eventually walked away when this expired. Stallone then came on board, but wasn’t satisfied with the script, so promptly re-wrote it to suit his profile: “By the time I was done, it looked like the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan on the beaches of Normandy. Believe it or not, the finale was me in a stolen Lamborghini playing chicken with an oncoming freight train being driven by the ultra-slimy bad guy.” Stallone eventually pulled out of the project due to creative differences two weeks before production began.
2) When production started, the script wasn’t fully finished and fleshed out, and screenwriter Dan Petrie Jr. and director Martin Brest relied heavily on Murphy’s improvisation to get both the comedic and more serious effects they wanted. Brest particularly struggled with the scene in which Axel confronts Victor Maitland, and even after six drafts wasn’t happy with the way it read. So he turned to Murphy for input, and the scene was shot within 15 minutes. “It’s spooky but every time we got into a jam, I’d turn to Eddie and say, ‘Can you come up with something?’”, recalled Brest. ”And every time, he came up with something that knocked me to the floor. He’s a director’s dream. He magnifies every bit of work you do by a thousand fold.”