Eddie Murphy Reflects on Cautionary Tales of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Prince

Eddie Murphy recently opened up about how the tragic fates of major celebrities like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Prince have influenced his own life and career decisions. In an episode of The New York Times podcast, The Interview, Murphy shared insights on avoiding the pitfalls of fame and his perspective on a controversial joke made by David Spade.

Navigating Fame and Avoiding Pitfalls

Murphy discussed his deliberate choices to steer clear of drugs and how seeing the downfalls of Presley, Jackson, and Prince served as a stark warning. Reflecting on his experiences, Murphy said, “Those guys are all cautionary tales for me.” He highlighted his disinterest in drugs, recounting a moment with John Belushi and Robin Williams where he opted out of doing cocaine. “I just wasn’t interested in it. To not have the desire or the curiosity, I’d say that’s providence. God was looking over me in that moment,” Murphy stated.

Growing up in the spotlight, especially as a Black artist, Murphy described his career as navigating a minefield, constantly aware of the potential for career-ending missteps. “How do you make it through a minefield for 35, 40 years? Something has to be looking over you,” he said, acknowledging the systemic challenges Black artists face in an industry not designed for their success.

The David Spade Incident

Murphy also addressed the lingering impact of a joke made by David Spade on Saturday Night Live, which took a jab at Murphy’s career during a rough patch. Spade’s quip, “Everybody, catch a falling star,” hurt Murphy deeply. “It was like: ‘Wait, hold on. This is Saturday Night Live. I’m the biggest thing that ever came off that show,’” Murphy recalled.

Feeling betrayed by what he saw as an in-house attack, Murphy stayed away from SNL for 30 years, only returning for the show’s 40th anniversary. He felt the joke was not only a cheap shot but also racially insensitive. However, he has since reconciled with Spade and SNL, stating, “We’re all good now.”

Paving the Way for Future Comedians

Murphy reflected on his role in changing the landscape for comedians, particularly Black comedians. He contested the notion that he directly paved the way for Kevin Hart, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, and Chris Tucker, suggesting they forged their own paths. However, he acknowledged his impact in elevating the status of comedians in mainstream entertainment. “The comic used to be the sidekick… I changed it to where the comic can be the main attraction,” Murphy noted. He emphasized that his success demonstrated that Black actors could lead major films that appeal to global audiences.

Wrapping Up

Eddie Murphy’s reflections offer a candid look at his journey through the entertainment industry, marked by careful choices and a clear awareness of the challenges faced by Black artists. His ability to navigate these obstacles and transform the role of comedians in Hollywood underscores his lasting influence. For more on Eddie Murphy’s thoughts and experiences, tune into The Interview podcast by The New York Times.

This article may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you purchase through these links.