October 9, 1998

Eddie Murphy Dazzles Audiences in "Holy Man"

By Elizabeth Hunter

Writer, comedian, superstar, Eddie Murphy dazzles audiences with his wit and charm, once again, when he lights up the screen in Touchstone Pictures' comedy, "Holy Man" (opening nationwide October 9). Written by Tom Schulman and directed by Stephen Herek, Touchstone Pictures' "Holly Man," is a high-octane comedy about an inspirational guru who hilariously personifies the message that in today's world, shopping via television is, for many people, a religious experience.

In Touchstone Pictures' "Holy Man" Eddie Murphy plays "G," a street-wise spiritual leader who is on a deeply personal and deeply funny spiritual pilgrimage. Holy Hayman, played by Jeff Goldblum, is a jaded and cynical executive at the Good Buy Shopping Network whose job is on the line. Hayman encounters "G" by accident and immediately recognizes that "G" might be able to give his ailing network career the shot in the arm it desperately needs. So Hayman gets "G" off the streets and on the air. "G" proves to be an over-the-top marketing genius, taking first the network and then the country by storm.

Eddie Murphy was thrilled to play the role of "G" in Touchstone Pictures' "Holly Man." `"G' is a spiritual man caught in a materialistic world," explains Eddie Murphy. "Instead of the world changing `G,' he changes it when he tries to show his home shopping audience a whole different outlook. That's why I really connected with `G's' spiritual values."

When asked how Murphy chooses a role, he explains, "You find a project that lets you give them the Eddie they know, the one they grew to like, but that also has other characteristics that allow you to stretch. You keep your base, but aren't limited to it." Portraying the character of "G" was a bit of a departure for Eddie Murphy who is renowned for his ability to make even the brashest characters imminently likeable.

"No one expected me to respond to the character of `G,'" explains Murphy. "They were expecting me to want the part of Ricky, who's more brash and arrogant. But creating characters is really what I'm best at. I wanted to try something new and different and that's `G.' He's cool, you know, he's got all the answers, even if he isn't always going to tell them to you."

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Eddie Murphy knew from a very early age that he was born to entertain. "Until I was ten, I wanted to own a Mister Softee icecream truck," says Murphy. "But after that, I knew I wanted to be in show business," he explains. "I used to give shows in my basement and the edge of the carpet was my stage. I'd be Elvis and Al Green and Stevie Wonder and do all this for imaginary audiences." Eddie Murphy's pretend performances prepared him well for the real thing.

Murphy began his career as a performer at 15 when a counselor at the local youth center asked Eddie and a friend to host a talent show. Young Eddie Murphy jumped at the opportunity. "He had us emcee because he said we knew how to shut people up," jokes Murphy. "I came out and sang `Let's Stay Together' just like Al Green. Had all the girls screaming. It was a cute show for a couple of 15-year-olds. I couldn't wait to be famous." Four years later, Eddie Murphy was.

At 19 years of age, Eddie Murphy captured the world's attention when he became a feature player on "Saturday Night Live.". During his tenure as a Not Ready for Primetime Player, Murphy created classic comic characters such as Little Richard Simmons, convict-poet Tyrone Green, Buckwheat, and smooth-talking huckster Velvet Jones. "Back then it was new, and I didn't know anything about pressure," remembers Murphy. "I was just having as much fun as I could."

Murphy also earned laughs and acclaim for his well-observed parodies of Bill Cosby, Mister Rogers and cartoon character, Gumby. "We were busting ourselves up there, sixteen hours a day," explains Murphy. "We did some good shows. I see those old tapes, and it weirds me out. I'm like this kid. Sometimes I watch sketches and don't remember doing them."

During Eddie Murphy' four years on "Saturday Night Live," he received two Emmy Award nominations for his performances, as well as another as part of the show's writing team. "I really grew up on that show," remarked Murphy years after he departure from "SNL." "In retrospect, it was the most fun I ever had."

Having made his mark on the small screen, Eddie Murphy turned his action to motion pictures, making his feature film debut in the hit action-comedy "48 HRS." Murphy then went on to star in the hit, "Trading Places," which earned him a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical, and the blockbuster, "Beverly Hills Cop," which earns him another Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor, as well as the People's Choice Award.

Eddie Murphy has released two comedy albums: Eddie Murphy, which received a Grammy nomination as Best Comedy Recording and for Best R&B Instrumental Performance for the instrumental version of "Boogie in Your Butt;" and Eddie Murphy: Comedian, which won the Grammy in 1984 as Best Comedy Recording. Murphy has also released three music albums, "How Could It Be, So Happy," and "Love's Alright."

No doubt, audiences will roar with laughter as the multi-talented funnyman, Eddie Murphy, adds his special brand of humor to Touchstone Pictures' spirited comedy "Holy Man."

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