Eddie Murphy talks new 'Beverly Hills Cop' movie, Axel Foley's 'Everyman' charm (2024)

If you’re amazed that we’re talking about “Beverly Hills Cop” some 40 years after that movie essentially birthed the buddy-cop comedy genre (here's looking at you, "Lethal Weapon" and "Bad Boys"), Eddie Murphy shares your sense of wonder.

“The pope was 47 when the first movie came out, I’m talking about the sitting one (Pope Francis),” Murphy reflects in a conversation with USA TODAY. “So he might have seen it. The pope has probably seen ‘Beverly Hills Cop.’ Wow.”

Murphy’s somewhat tongue-in-smirking-cheek speculation might extend to the movie’s two sequels, in 1987 and 1994. And perhaps – if the pontiff indeed is an Axel Foley fan – the fourth film of the enduring franchise, “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F” (streaming Wednesday on Netflix).

“Axel and all the characters, they’re very much part of the lexicon,” says Murphy, 63. “I mean, somewhere in the world, one of those movies is on TV right now."

For this installment, “it really was mainly about getting a good script and getting to the set, and that was it. As soon as they said ‘Action,’ I was Axel again.”

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Eddie Murphy talks new 'Beverly Hills Cop' movie, Axel Foley's 'Everyman' charm (1)

Judge Reinhold, who returns once again as Foley sidekick Billy Rosewood, joining fellow returnee John Ashton as cop John Taggart, says when the trio hopped in a squad car again, fireworks ignited.

“I hadn’t seen Eddie in maybe 10 years, but when the three of us were together, it was magic, it was like we’d never stopped,” Reinhold says. "The night of that shoot was special. The three of us showed up dressed the same as we used to, and the crew, it was spooky for them, it was like we’d walked out of their past. Things got quiet.”

Making a fourth 'Beverly Hills Cop' movie was never guaranteed

It wasn’t a given that Foley & Co. would resume their comedic crime-busting routine. After “Beverly Hills Cop III” failed to score big at the box office, the conclusion seemed to be that the Detroit-to-LA shenanigans were a wrap.

Eddie Murphy talks new 'Beverly Hills Cop' movie, Axel Foley's 'Everyman' charm (2)

But in 2019, Netflix bought the rights to a fourth movie with an option for an additional sequel. And the race was on.

"Axel F" includes veterans as well as new faces: Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Bobby, Kevin Bacon as Captain Grant and Taylour Paige as Foley's adult daughter, Jane. Also onboard after skipping out in 1994 was Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced the first two ‘80s hits, along with first-time movie director, Mark Molloy, a veteran of TV commercials for Apple products.

"I just wanted to create the right environment for Eddie to thrive, which included a great script and a cast that allows him to improvise as needed," says Molloy, citing a manic scene in a helicopter with Gordon-Levitt. "Everything was on the page, but there were some great moments and accents that Eddie improvises that takes scenes from an eight to a 10."

Eddie Murphy talks new 'Beverly Hills Cop' movie, Axel Foley's 'Everyman' charm (3)

Bruckheimer was eager to recapture the series' winning form. “For me, coming back was an easy decision,” he says. “It’s always a dream to work with Eddie Murphy, you just wanted to talk about the old days while making the new one. But you also can see how he’s evolved as an actor and comedian, just like old wine."

Bruckheimer, 80, pauses, then laughs.“He looks so young, I wish I had the same genes,” he says. “Whatever he’s doing, it’s working, maybe he’ll give us a few pointers.”

How does Eddie Murphy, 63, stay so youthful? His secret is simple

Murphy’s fountain of youth is on the minds of many of his co-workers.

“Eddie has always taken care of himself, even in the '80s,” says Reinhold. “He has a lot of discipline. He takes care of his gift. He’s a student of the (comedy) form, going back to (Charlie) Chaplin and (Buster) Keaton.”

Eddie Murphy talks new 'Beverly Hills Cop' movie, Axel Foley's 'Everyman' charm (4)

Paige, who plays Murphy’s screen daughter, ascribes the comedian's youthful look and serenity to his family (Murphy is a father of 10).

“His family and his home life keeps it all balanced for him,” says Paige. “If I learned anything from Eddie during the shoot, it was to preserve my energy on set. He was always asking, ‘Are we going to go?’ And if we were, he was on it.”

The actress got a kick out of ribbing her famous co-star about his cloistered life.

“We were driving around (shooting a car scene) and he would just start reading off the names of fast-food places we were passing, and at one point he said, ‘I bet you prefer Chipotle, you seem like an organic type,’ ” she says. “I said, ‘I bet you’ve never even been inside a Chipotle!’ And, yes, I am here to verify the man has never had Chipotle.”

Eddie Murphy talks new 'Beverly Hills Cop' movie, Axel Foley's 'Everyman' charm (5)

So, let’s see, no alcohol, no fast food ... what else? Murphy waves off talk about his preternaturally youthful appearance.

“Well, I don’t know the answer, maybe just genetics,” he says. “I don’t have a regime, I wish I could say (he affects a deep voice), ‘I eat this and I drink that.’ But I’ll tell you what, I don’t drink. I can tell you how many drinks I’ve had in my life on two hands and have fingers left over. Pretty much zero alcohol and zero tobacco and the least amount of stress.”

He leans back in his chair and smiles. “Otherwise, I do the same (stuff) everyone else does.” And then there it is, that very Foley laugh, a deep heh-heh-heh.

Eddie Murphy has been a star since he was a teen but hasn't succumbed to fame's vices

That Murphy has managed to keep the vices of success at bay is fairly unique in Hollywood history. After all, Murphy has been famous since he was a 19-year-old talent who saved a then-sinking “Saturday Night Live.”

His rocket just soared. Stand-up comedy tours turned into hit albums and specials, and while not everything connected with movie audiences, there have been enough gems (from “Shrek” to “My Name Is Dolemite”) to cement his name in the comedy firmament.

But even Murphy didn’t seem to recognize how iconic his wise-cracking Detroit cop had become. He was initially reluctant to put the character’s now-classic Detroit Lions jacket on again.

“I was like, so he has the same jacket on from 30 years ago? I didn’t want to do it,” he says. “But then they said, ‘Axel’s clothes are iconic, like Indiana Jones.’ ”

Murphy flashes that grin.

“So I said, ‘OK, so my jacket is like Indiana Jones’ hat and his whip? Fine, I’ll put it on,’ ” he says. “But actually, it works. Because Axel’s appeal is that he’s not flashily dressed, he doesn’t care about his clothes or anything, he’s just doing police work. He’s the Everyman, I think that’s why the character has been around for so long. You can relate to him.”

Eddie Murphy talks new 'Beverly Hills Cop' movie, Axel Foley's 'Everyman' charm (7)

As for what's next, Murphy talks about perhaps a one-man show of sorts on Broadway, but he's also game for another Foley caper, should Netflix hit the green light. Of all the memorable characters he's created over the decades, something about this crime-busting crew has bored into his soul.

"It's a trip, most movies, you don’t see them much after they’re first on," he says. "But (with 'Cop'), now you're locked in with these actors forever."

And Murphy seems more than OK with that.

Eddie Murphy talks new 'Beverly Hills Cop' movie, Axel Foley's 'Everyman' charm (2024)

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