Eddie Murphy’s waited a long time for the sequel to Coming to America. Thirty-three years, to be precise. So long, in fact, he’s fathered 10 kids in that time – and one of them, 19-year-old Bella, is his co-star in the sequel. And that tickles Eddie – the star with the monster grin and wicked chuckle.
He says: “I am going to be 60 in April and I have all these babies, I love fatherhood. That is the centre of everything. The whole idea of being out there and doing three movies a year, that s*** is over. I have got all these babies.
“I found it over and over again and along the way I realised that if you put your children first you never make a bad decision. When you hit a crossroads moment or you have got some s***, you think, ‘Well, what is best for my children?’ If you go that route then you never make a bad decision.”
When asked if he gets on with them all, Eddie replies: “I am so blessed with my kids. I don’t have one bad seed. I don’t have any like, ‘Oh you are the one’. I don’t have any of that. My kids are so great, normal people – and nobody is like the Hollywood jerk kid. My kids are smart and are trying to do stuff. I am blessed with my kids. I really, really got lucky.”
His kids are aged two to 31. He has two young children with actress fiancée Paige Butcher, 41, and has five kids from his marriage to model Nicole Murphy. He also had one child each from relationships with Paulette McNeely, Tamara Hood and, of course, Spice Girl Mel B.
His relationship with Mel courted controversy after she fell pregnant with their daughter in 2006. Eddie famously told one interviewer: “I don’t know whose child that is until it comes out and has a blood test. You shouldn’t jump to conclusions, sir.”
Despite the initial wobble, Eddie now has a good relationship with their daughter Angel, 14. But last year Mel filed court papers requesting he pay more in child support after her income “dramatically reduced”. The former couple agreed in 2009 that she would have sole physical custody of Angel with the actor reportedly ordered to pay $25,000 a month, health insurance and costs, as well as education fees.
Angel appeared alongside all of her siblings when Eddie introduced them to new baby Max at Christmas, 2018. The fantastic picture was taken at his Beverly Hills home, which comes complete with bowling alley. Eddie says he likes nothing more than to relax on his sofa. He displays a softer side than the brash, motor-mouthed character who burst on to the scenes as a comedian 40 years ago.
Movies soon followed and Eddie’s huge Hollywood hits include Trading Places – alongside Dan Aykroyd – 48 Hours (with Nick Nolte), the Beverly Hills Cop series, Nutty Professor – and voicing Donkey in Shrek. But he gave up acting for six years in 2011 after a string of flops which included Norbit, Pluto Nash and Meet Dave.
The final straw was when he won Worst Actor Of The Decade at the Golden Raspberry Awards, nicknamed the Razzies. He says: “I was like ‘let me take a break from movies’. I was making these s****y movies and they ain’t fun. They gave me the Worst Actor Ever Razzies. I was like maybe it is time to take a break.
“Maybe I need to pull back a little. So I took a break. I was only going to take a break for a year and then six years go by and I was like, ‘I could sit on this couch and not get off it’. I was like ‘let me do some stuff and remind them I am funny’. I did not want to leave it there. I stopped doing standup as I was like, ‘Am I funny’?”
The answer, of course, is that he is. As Coming 2 America shows – Eddie back at his best, playing the main character and a string of others, aided by disguise and prosthetics. Eddie likes to hark back to his early days, when he shot to fame in his teens with comedy take-offs of boxing legend Muhammad Ali and former President Jimmy Carter.
At 19 he appeared on Saturday Night Live. He encountered some racism at first – people asking how he could afford luxuries before realising who he was. But it was nothing that fazed him.
Eddie says: “It was the old world back then. There was no political correctness. You could say whatever. You could say the Polish jokes and you could say anything back then. I did not feel boxed in. I became big, quick. It just felt like ‘this is how it happens’. I got that and totally took it for granted. I got offered 48 Hours and that was a big hit, that blew it all open – and then Trading Places came out. I was moving on.
"I was the first African American character in films to go into the white world and take charge of the world. Because usually the black character was the sidekick. But they found that funny and that was some s*** we just stumbled on. People said I stole the scene and they thought that was really, really funny.
“When they saw Nick Nolte in 48 Hours, the 6ft blond leading man, they thought I stole the role. I had a lot of stuff I had to navigate and go through this minefield like being in your 20s and being famous.”
He emerged from the minefield safely, of course. And four decades on there’s more to come, too – with Beverly Hills Cop 4 in the pipeline. Proof, if we needed it, that Eddie is still the Daddy.