Eddie Murphy, the SNL sensation-turned-movie star who is considered by many to be the greatest stand-up comic of all time, will be the subject of a new documentary from director Angus Wall, who won a pair of Oscars for editing The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
The film is being produced by John Davis and John Fox, who spoke to Collider in advance of Disney‘s Jungle Cruise, which finally drops anchor this week. The duo have made five films with Murphy — Doctor Dolittle, Dr. Dolittle 2, Daddy Day Care, Norbit, and Dolemite Is My Name — and their latest collaboration, which they’ve been working on one way or another for the past two and a half years, will be titled The Last Stand.
“The thing that John and I are really excited about is, we are shooting a documentary right now about Eddie Murphy. We’re doing it with Angus Wall, Academy Award-winning editor, great documentarian. We’ve made five movies with Eddie and we love and adore him. I love it. I love him as a person. I love him as a performer. We love and adore him, and we’re doing his last stand-up with him. It’s going to be the last time he does stand-up. It’s going to be called The Last Stand. And we’ve been working on that for two and a half years.”
Keep in mind that they haven’t shot two and a half years worth of material, “we’ve been conceptualizing,” said Davis. “We have something that came in between, [a] terrible pandemic, which kind of put the stand-up on hold, but we’ve been shooting the documentary,” said Davis, with Fox adding that they expect to record Murphy‘s return to the stage “once the pandemic clears, I think.”
“There’s already been hours and hours and hours and hours of footage shot with him talking about his early days in the business, his perception of comedy, people who influenced him, understanding what the life of a stand-up is, what makes him different from other stand-ups. It’s really cool, interesting stuff,” said Davis. “To be able to be that close to comic genius is really one of the great benefits of being in this business for me, personally.”
“I mean, come on. We’re producing Eddie Murphy‘s stand-up special. I literally, as a 13-year-old, would quote Delirious. The entire [thing]. I mean, I was 13 and I’m doing the whole bit. My parents are like, ‘Are you out of your mind?’ It’s like, the little kid in me can’t believe that we get to be involved with this,” Fox said with a smile.
Davis isn’t quite sure what form the Eddie Murphy project will ultimately take, be it a two-hour movie or a 10-part series in the vein of ESPN‘s Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance, but he’s eager to get in the editing room once production wraps and see what he has on his hands.
“We’re shooting hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours. Angus Wall, who’s our director, has gotten unrestricted access to Eddie, and Eddie is home. He’s got nothing to do. So he’s gotten hours and hours and hours and hours of film of Eddie just opening up and speaking honestly and from his heart. We’re going to get every major comedian who Eddie was inspired by and they’re going to talk. And so, I think what you do is, you just see how long it should be once you’re done. Maybe it’s 10 episodes, maybe it’s 15, maybe it’s three. You’ll see what plays.”
That sounds like a good idea to me, as it’d be a shame to start with a predetermined format and then try to shape the story to fit that, whether that means leaving good bits on the cutting room floor or padding out the documentary with filler to reach a certain running time.
In addition to serving as David Fincher‘s longtime editor, Wall also executive produced acclaimed documentaries such as Ava DuVernay‘s 13th and Bryan Fogel’s Icarus. As for Murphy, he’s coming off of Coming 2 America, which broke streaming records for Amazon Prime Video when it debuted earlier this year.