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The classic film role that Eddie Murphy turned down

Actors are a funny bunch; there’s no denying it. Some are characterised as being particularly stubborn, only wanting to feature in works that would have the greatest impact in advancing the glamour of their star. Not the easiest bunch to work with, one would wager that being the manager of a Hollywood A-lister is often nothing short of a living hell.

But maybe we’re over generalising, some star in pieces because they genuinely back the script and want to help bring its world to life and have a deep-rooted love for the discipline. Take the late icon Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s ethos, for example. A true thespian, he starred in blockbusters and indies, giving us many classic performances, all the while being a regular on Broadway, always grounded in the world of theatre as a way of augmenting his skillset.

Not everyone has the talent or the cerebral skill of Hoffman, though. You see many actors star in loads of absolutely terrible films, out of either desperation to resurrect their career or as a quick way to make a big buck. Take any of the cast of The Expendables, for instance.

On the other hand, there have been numerous occasions over the years where many of our favourite actors have turned down roles, owing to a plethora of reasons. Examples range from Will Smith turning down the role of Neo in The Matrix because he found the pitch too confusing, to Josh Hartnett turning down the role of the caped crusader in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Batman trilogy, or even Leonardo DiCaprio turning down the role of Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights because he “hadn’t really seen much” of Paul Thomas Anderson’s previous work.

Understandably, there will have been an innumerable amount of occasions where actors were happy with their choice to turn films down. However, the three aforementioned instances have turned into regrets for the actors, wishing it had been their name in lights. In this train of thought, legendary comedian Eddie Murphy has spoken about his regret of turning down another classic role, one that we would wager is more iconic than any of those mentioned above. 

It’s quite a left-field entry as well. The film in question is the groundbreaking 1988 Robert Zemeckis outing, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. At this point in his career, in the late ’80s, Murphy was one of Hollywood’s hottest prospects, and he had already famously passed up on the opportunity to star alongside Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd Ghostbusters back in 1984 as he was already committed to Beverly Hills Cop. Fast forward four years and Murphy would turn down the leading role in Who Framed Roger Rabbit for an entirely different reason.

In 2019, on an appearance on Fallon, Murphy expressed his regret at turning down the live-action/noir film. Murphy revealed that “the only movie that I have turned down that became a big hit was Who Framed Roger Rabbit…I was going to be the Bob Hoskins dude.” He explained: “I was like, what? Animation and people sounds like bullshit to me. Now every time I see it, I feel like an idiot.”

He was right to feel stupid. The film went on to make over $329 million at the box office and won three Academy Awards celebrating its groundbreaking use of visual and sound effects. A bonafide classic, it’s hard to picture the film without the late Bob Hoskins as the hard-nosed P.I. Eddie Valiant. 

Ultimately, it was probably a good thing that Murphy decided to opt out of the role. However, the thought of him instead lending his voice to the hapless rabbit is an interesting one. Given that Murphy has lent his voice to the iconic animated characters iconic of Mushu in Mulan and Donkey in Shrek, Murphy would have been brilliant as Roger Rabbit, instead of Eddie Valiant. Maybe there’s something in that?

Watch the interview, below.

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