Saturday Night Live (1980-1984)
The Roles: Cynical, aging Yiddish stop-motion puppet Gumby/grown-up version of Buckwheat from “Little Rascals”/poor but street wise children’s TV show host, Mr. Robinson.
Number of Eddies: Scores of Eddies, imbuing each character he played with his soon-to-be trade mark wit, and often receiving criticism for the harsh and insensitive portrayals of real-life characters.
Left the show in 1984 to concentrate on movies and hasn't looked back, literally.
48 Hrs. (1982)
The Role: The proto Murphy role and source of his movie persona for the decade to follow, here he plays wise-cracking con Reggie Hammond, given two days out of jail to help Nick Nolte track down a pair of ruthless cop-killers.
Number of Eddies: Just one, but what a solitary performance it is. Reggie Hammond is the embodiment of the swagger-strong Murphy’s stand-up charisma, using his charm, wit and quick tongue to get the job done.
Widely regarded as the first ‘buddy-cop’ film, a formula which was oft-copied throughout the 80s, but rarely equaled.
The Role: Murphy’s first concert film is a no-holds barred assault on pop culture, from African American stars to scathing attacks on homosexuality.
Number of Eddies: One Eddie, and a barrage of impersonations, to an inaudibly wailing James Brown, a Stevie Wonder-imitation, a mocking of Michael Jackson’s sensitive nature and an Elvis Presley spoof, complete with expanding gait.
In 1987, Murphy released his follow-up concert film Raw, even more popular than its predecessor, which has become the definitive Eddie Murphy stand-up film.
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
The Role: In a part originated for Sylvester Stallone, Murphy makes his A-List cementing appearance as tough talking Detroit detective Axel Foley, out-of-water in Beverly Hills on the trail of drug dealers who killed his best friend.
Number of Eddies: Physically just one, but this is a double strength Murphy performance, combining all the elements we know and love; the bass heavy stilted laugh, the wise cracking quips and the tough as nails action.
It was followed by an equally successful sequel in 1987. This is Murphy at the peak of his powers, a peak he would soon begin to descend…
Best Defense (1984)
The Role: Murphy stars a Lt. TM Landry, a tank commander in charge of a prototype who is involved in a fictional invasion of Iraq, a plot that unintentionally foreshadowed the first Gulf war.
Number of Eddies: Barely half an Eddie turns up for this one. Brought in after the original cut of the film, starring Dudley Moore’s weapons designer, tested badly.
The new scenes with Murphy were then filmed and inserted into the print.
It was a disaster, one which Murphy openly joked about on TV.
The Golden Child (1986)
The Role: Another box-office smash for the star, but this time it was the critics that panned his portrayal of social worker Chandler Jarrell, who is sent on a quest to rescue the ‘Golden Child’ and in turn save the human race.
Number of Eddies: Uno. Another role written for another actor, in this case Mel Gibson, his refusal to star prompted a rewrite to cater to Murphy’s comedic tones.
Coming to America (1988)
The Role: As Prince Akeem, heir to the throne of a fictitious African country who travels to America in search of a wife, Murphy give one of his best performances.
Number of Eddies: Four. Alongside Prince Akeem, Murphy also plays lead isnger of Sexual Choclate, Randy Watson, Clarence the barber and elderly Jewish guy Saul. Arsenio Hall also plays several different roles.
This is the film that started Murphy’s trend of appearing as several characters, supposedly inspired by comedy legend Peter Sellers. Joy.
Harlem Nights (1989)
The Role: Murphy stars as Quick, son of Richard Pryor’s Sugar Ray, who together run an illegal gambling establishment in 1930s Harlem. Critics hated it, but as would be the case for much of Murphy’s career, it made money.
Number of Eddies: One acting role, but the film marked Murphy’s debut as director, and he also shared writing and production duties. The film is best remembered for the teaming of comic legends Murphy, Pryor and Redd Foxx.
Vampire In Brooklyn (1995)
The Role: Eddie stars as Caribbean vampire Maximilian, who travels to Brooklyn in search of a mate, so a bit like Coming to America, but with more teeth and less awesome.
The film was the epitome of the nonsense Murphy was making during the 90s and was the latest in a string of flops for the star following Another 48 Hrs, Boomerang, The Distinguished Gentleman and Beverly Hills Cop III.
Number of Eddies: Three. Murphy plays the titular vampire Maximilian, and also cameos as alcoholic preacher Pauly and foul-mouthed Italian gangster Guido.
The Nutty Professor (1996)
The Role: Murphy plays Sherman Klump, overweight and unlucky in love, who stumbles upon a serum that transforms him into his trimmed-down ladykilling alter-ego, Buddy Love.
Number of Eddies: Seven. Sherman Klump, Buddy Love, Papa Klump, Mama Klump, Grandma Klump, Ernie Klump and TV fitness personality Lance Perkins.
The film marked Murphy’s return to box-office form but also a departure from his R-rated fare, a family-oriented choice he would continue to make, and one which helped drive up business for his films.
The Role: Murphy stars a Jeffernson Ramsey, long lost brother of mega star Kit Ramsey (also Murphy) who is tapped up by unscrupulous movie producer Bobby Bowfinger to star in his latest feature, and con the public into believing he is Kit.
Number of Eddies: Two. The film marked the end of a critically derided decade for Murphy, it was received warmly by critics who praised both Murphy and Steve Martin and reserved special praise for director Frank Oz.
Murphy took this critical praise and went off to make The Nutty Professor 2, in which he played 8 characters.
The Role: Wise-cracking verbally laxative animated Donkey and perennial annoyance/best friend to Mike Myers’ titular Wayne Rooney wannabe.
Number of Eddies: One. Though only Murphy’s voice talent is lent to Donkey, the banter spewing ass is about as close as you can get to those early roles that made his name.
The monumental success of Shrek ensured Murphy’s survival into the new Millennium, and along with the sequels in 2004 and 2007, cemented his position among the top 5 grossing box-office stars of all time.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
The Role: The rollercoaster career continued with an ill-advised venture to the moon, as Murphy plays Pluto Nash, a nightclub owner on the moon struggling to maintain control from mob interests.
Number of Eddies: Um… One… ish. Shelved for two years before its release, Pluto Nash represents the largest financial loss of all time, making back just $4m of its $100m budget.
After the debacles that were Showtime and Dr. Doolittle 2 , Murphy followed up this gem with the awful I-Spy and Cuba Gooding Jr’s favourite, Daddy Day Care .
The Haunted Mansion (2003)
The Role: Workaholic family man Jim Evers is invited with his wife and kids to view a mansion being put up for sale by it’s eccentric owner. Once there, they discover his tales of ghosts may not be just scare stories after all.
Number of Eddies: One. Hot off the success of the Pirates film, Disney were sure this film also based on a theme park attraction would be an equally big hit. It was big alright, but add an ‘s’ to ‘hit’ and combine with the words ‘steaming pile of’.
The Role: In an Oscar winning adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, Murphy’s performance as soul singer James ‘Thunder’ Early earned him his first nomination, for Best Supporting Actor.
Number of Eddies: One, thankfully. Apparently furious when he didn’t recieve the statue (it went to Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine), any more Eddies and there may have been a riot.
In case you were wondering the best way to follow up an Oscar nomination, you do it by going back to the bread and butter...
The Role: Norbit is a mild-mannered regular joe, married to the controlling and monsterously obese Rasputia. When he meets the woman of his dreams, he tries to find a way to rid himself of Rasputia so he can be with her.
Number of Eddies: Three. Murphy plays both Norbit and his thunder making wife Rasputia, and also appears as Norbit’s adoptive father Mr. Wong. The film opened at number one at the box-office, but it was hardly a return to form.
Imagine That (2009)
The Role: Financial executive Evan Danielson can’t get away from his career problems and takes refuge in his daughter’s imaginary world, where he finds the solutions to all his problems.
Number of Eddies: One. Another box office bomb from the king of ticket sale swing, this is the second Murphy movie to bomb in two years after 2008’s Meet Dave . How will it fare on our shores?
Murphy’s upcoming projects include the much lamented Beverly Hills Cop IV , Shrek Ever After , an untitled Romeo and Juliet project (dear God no), and a heist movie involving the robbery of the Trump Towers in Chicago.