Eddie Murphy did not keep his dislike for Beverly Hills Cop sequels a secret, and openly used carefully selected adjectives like “mediocre” and “atrocious” to describe the second and third films. But there is no denying that it was playing Axel Foley that gave the young comic and SNL alum’s movie-acting career the kickstart it desperately needed.
As Beverly Hills Cop II (which managed to almost replicate the success of the first part, while repeating its plot) came out in 1987, and the underperforming third part was released even later, in 1994, the blame also rests on Murphy for continuing his association with a franchise that had run its course. But the first film? That was a boon for the actor back in 1984, and the best creative choice he made despite his young age.
What was Eddie Murphy’s age when he brought Axel Foley to life in Beverly Hills Cop?
Well, our fresh-faced Detroit cop at the time was only 23 at the time. At the time, the actor was still struggling to make his mark in Hollywood, striving to prove that yes, he was a bankable artist who could carry a project on his able shoulders.
Thanks to Mickey Rourke, Sylvester Stallone, and a long list of other names who said no to the role, the chance to play the bold and brash detective fell in Murphy’s lap, and he wrapped it in his brand of uniqueness and improvised the film’s script with its writers. It was enough to make the character so memorable that even though the next two films were better off being never made, and the TV series of the same name got promptly shelved in 2013, the fan-following for the franchise remained strong.
In fact, so strong that Beverly Hills Cop 4, which remained in development hell for years for the lack of a better script, is finally going to see the light of day with Murphy back as Axel after 29 long years.
With Netflix, instead of Paramount Pictures, running the show this time, will Axel manage to recreate the magic of the first film? Murphy’s attempt to revive another franchise — Coming 2 America — doesn’t raise much hope, but let’s wait for the film’s streaming debut in 2024 before forming any concrete opinions.