Eddie Murphy explains why ‘SNL’ alum Jay Pharoah could not play him in a biopic

(LOS ANGELES) — Eddie Murphy is setting a high bar when it comes to actors who could play him in a potential biopic.

After his Coming 2 America co-star Arsenio Hall suggested that SNLalum Jay Pharoah could play him in a film, Murphy tells ABC Audio that Pharoah is just too limited to really capture him authentically.

“He could do an impression, [but] it’s different,” Murphy says of Pharoah. “Doing an impression of someone and capturing someone’s essence is different.”

“When you do a biopic, you want to capture their essence. Where you’re not doing an impression and you don’t have to look like them,” he continues. “You just captured it.”

Murphy goes on to share some examples of what he’d like to see in an actor’s portrayal.

“Like what Angela Bassett did with What’s Love Got to Do With It. She captures Tina Turner,” he says.

“Or what Denzel [Washington] did in Malcolm X,” Murphy explains. “Denzel didn’t look like Malcolm X, but halfway through the movie he starts looking like Malcolm X. There’s a scene where he’s on an airplane and coming back from Mecca and he’s not even saying anything, just kind of like sitting there. And he turned into Malcolm X.”

The comedy legend also applauded Jamie Foxx’s 2005 Oscar-winning portrayal of Ray Charles.

“There’s a scene in Ray when Jamie’s not talking. He’s standing there at the top of steps — just standing there and he… literally turns into… he is Ray Charles,” Murphy declares. “And you want to do that. You want to capture their essence.”

“I don’t know who can capture my essence like that!” he laughs.

By Candice Williams
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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