Top 10 Eddie Murphy Performances

Script written by Jon O'Brien. A stand-up comedian who made that difficult transition from the stage to the screen look effortless, this actor is widely regarded as one of Hollywood’s greatest funnymen. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 Eddie Murphy performances. For this list, we’re considering only Eddie Murphy’s acting performances in feature-length films and on TV in which he plays at least one major character. This means we’re excluding his stand-up acts. Special thanks to our users Mattyhull1, John Hoskins, Andrew A. Dennison, dasuga, wramos519@yahoo.com, 25billionaire, Funmi Boom, SonicFan7820 and Jacob Waltuck for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Jon O'Brien.

Top 10 Eddie Murphy Performances


A stand-up comedian who made that difficult transition from the stage to the screen look effortless, this actor is widely regarded as one of Hollywood’s greatest funnymen. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Eddie Murphy performances.

For this list, we’re considering only Eddie Murphy’s acting performances in feature-length films and on TV in which he plays at least one major character. This means we’re excluding his stand-up acts.

#10: Kit Ramsey / Jefferson ‘Jiff’ Ramsey
“Bowfinger” (1999)

Kicking off our list is this hilarious satire of the movie industry in which, like so many of his films, Eddie Murphy showcases his talents for playing multiple characters. First up, we see him as Kit Ramsey, an arrogant and distrustful A-list actor unaware that Steve Martin’s Z-grade producer is secretly filming him for his latest trashy picture. But it’s as his loveable, if gormless, brother Jiff where Murphy’s goofy charms really shine.

#9: Chandler Jarrell
“The Golden Child” (1986)

Murphy consolidated his status as Hollywood’s Golden Boy with this fantasy comedy about the search for a missing golden child. Murphy plays Chandler Jarrell, a social worker who is informed by a beautiful Tibetan princess that he has been appointed to rescue the savior of humankind from Charles Dance’s dastardly villain. As the reluctant hero who eventually embraces his position as the Chosen One, Murphy handles his first foray into the world of the supernatural with aplomb.

#8: Billy Ray Valentine
“Trading Places” (1983)

Picking up a deserved second consecutive Golden Globe nomination, Murphy lights up the screen as a pauper-turned-prince in this alternative Christmas classic. The comedian stars as Billy Ray Valentine, a homeless street hustler briefly given the opportunity to swap lives with a Wall Street broker as part of a cruel one-dollar bet. Proving to be the perfect foil for his fellow “Saturday Night Live” alumni, Dan Aykroyd, Murphy delivers on his early promise in typically rapid-fire style.

#7: Professor Sherman Klump
“The Nutty Professor” (1996)

It’s fair to say that Murphy certainly earned his fee in this entertaining remake of Jerry Lewis’ 1963 comedy, having played not just one but seven characters, including an overweight Grandma, a parody of Richard Simmons, and of course, the cocky womanizer, Buddy Love. But it’s his performance as Sherman Klump, a morbidly obese professor who develops a miraculous weight loss drug in his quest for romance, which provides the heart and soul of this much loved family classic.

#6: Buckwheat, James Brown, Mr. Robinson, etc.
“Saturday Night Live” (1975-)

Murphy had been a headliner on the comedy circuit for several years before joining the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” but it was undoubtedly the long-running sketch show that turned him into a household name. Murphy was credited with revitalizing the series in the early 1980s thanks to characters such as a grown-up version of the “Little Rascals”’ Buckwheat, quick-witted kids TV presenter Mr. Robinson and perhaps most famously, his gleeful impersonation of soul legend James Brown.

#5: Donkey
“Shrek” franchise (2001-10)

Stealing the show right from under Shrek’s massive green nose, Eddie Murphy’s Donkey became the unlikely breakout star in DreamWorks’ inspired subversion of the fairytale genre. Committing himself just as fully as he does in his live action roles, Murphy generates most of the laughs as the buck-toothed motor mouth who eventually endears himself to Mike Myers’ grumpy ogre, in the first and only voice performance to be nominated for a BAFTA.

#4: Reggie Hammond
“48 Hrs.” (1982)

Bursting out of the blocks, Murphy became a major movie star virtually overnight with his tour-de-force big-screen debut as Reggie Hammond. In “48 Hrs.”, he plays a convicted thief who, thanks to a twist of fate, ends up on the other side of the law. Murphy may have been the newcomer, but he more than holds his own next to his more experienced co-star Nick Nolte in this fast and furious action comedy that helped pioneer the mismatched buddy cop genre.

#3: Jimmy ‘Thunder’ Early
“Dreamgirls” (2006)

After four previous Golden Globe nominations, Murphy finally got the chance to make an acceptance speech when he bagged the Best Supporting Actor award for his towering performance in this Supremes-inspired musical drama. Also earning him his first ever Oscar nomination, in “Dreamgirls,” Murphy is a revelation as he draws upon both his own loudmouth persona and various Motown legends to portray an R&B sensation whose stardom fades just as his hired backing band’s begins to rise.

#2: Prince Akeem Joffer
“Coming to America” (1988)

Reuniting with director John Landis for a fish-out-of-water story that he also devised, Murphy once again justified his superstar status with one of his most genuinely likeable performances in this romantic comedy. Toning down the brashness of his earlier roles, Murphy plays an African crown prince who travels to America in search of a bride with an endearing sense of innocence, especially when trying to pass himself off as a poor student, but still manages to throw in a whole host of snappy one-liners.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Mushu
“Mulan” (1998)
- Marcus Graham
“Boomerang” (1992)
- Dr. John Doolittle
“Dr. Doolittle” (1998)
- Kelly Robinson
“I Spy” (2002)
- Rayford “Ray” Gibson
“Life” (1999)

#1: Axel Foley
“Beverly Hills Cop” franchise (1984-94)

Topping our list is Murphy’s career defining and Golden Globe-nominated role as the street-smart Detroit police detective out to avenge his friend’s murder: Axel Foley. Exuding the kind of cheeky fast-talking charm that has become his trademark, Murphy’s performance as a reckless rough diamond in a rich man’s world not only elevated this ‘80s vehicle to classic status, but it also confirmed his position as the decade’s most bankable comedy star.

Do you agree with our list? Which Eddie Murphy performances are your favorite? For more entertaining Top 10s every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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