Eddie Murphy, one of the most successful “Saturday Night Live” alums of all time, appeared on the show’s 40th anniversary celebration this year but did not perform, choosing instead to give what has been described as an awkward thank-you speech before throwing to a commercial.
Now, in an interview with The Washington Post, Murphy talks about that night for the first time, providing insights into his decision.
Murphy “surprised even his friends by doing no more than thanking the crowd,” The Post reports. “So what happened? Simple. They wanted him to play Bill Cosby. Because nobody does a better Bill Cosby than Eddie Murphy. Except the timing was more than a little awkward.”
That’s because Cosby was — and still is — in the headlines for a string of sexual abuse allegations against him by women accusing the legendary comedian of drugging and raping them.
Murphy said he rejected the part because he didn’t think the subject matter was appropriate for a comedy bit.
Murphy is quoted in The Post saying: “I totally understood. It was the biggest thing in the news at the time. I can see why they thought it would be funny, and the sketch that Norm [Macdonald] wrote was hysterical.”
But commenting on the subject matter of the headlines, he adds: “It’s horrible. There’s nothing funny about it. If you get up there and you crack jokes about him, you’re just hurting people. You’re hurting him. You’re hurting his accusers. I was like, ‘Hey, I’m coming back to “SNL” for the anniversary, I’m not turning my moment on the show into this other thing.’ ”