In a striking parallel to Rudy Ray Moore’s own life, Eddie Murphy’s film homage Dolemite Is My Name was finally made after years of being in the works. The movie had a warm reception at the Toronto International Film Festival this year and will be available for streaming on Netflix on October 25th.
Murphy, who produced the film and stars as the comedian himself, spoke with Screen Rant about the conversations who and Moore had in the pre-production process and explains why director Craig Brewer was the perfect choice for both Dolemite and the upcoming Coming 2 America.
Amazing job. There's so much to take away from Dolemite in this story. It's a hilarious biopic, but it's super inspirational. And it's taken you 15 years to get this on the screen. How rewarding is that for you?
Eddie Murphy: There's nothing better to be one of the producers on the movie, and to see it go from an idea that was totally – when I first had this idea 15 years ago, even Rudy didn't see it. I went and talked to Rudy about it, and the movie couldn't come together.
And it was a different time; there was no Netflix yet. So, going to the studios back then and saying Rudy Ray Moore… They were like, “Who the hell is Rudy Ray Moore?” And then if you showed them the “Get out of the jungle!” [thing], they were like, “Get the fuck out. You’re not making this.”
To see it go from that to this, you know, it's like, “Yeah, this is a good idea.” And his story is this great inspirational story.
I find it interesting that your struggle to get this film made was very similar to Rudy’s struggle to get his film made; kind of parallels it in a way. Can you talk to me about that? Because you've had a lot of conversations with him. He was a big advocate for telling his story. In conversation, what is something that he definitely wanted to see be portrayed onscreen?
Eddie Murphy: When we’d chat, whenever I talked to him about making a movie, he would go like, “Fuck that.” He wants to go on tour. He was like, “Man, we should go on the road together, man!” And I was like, “No, but this movie about your life, though…” And he’d say, “S***, man, we need to go out and hit some clubs.”
He wanted to do stand up. And I was like, “I don’t have no act.” ”You don't need no act!” That's what he wants to do more than anything. He wasn't even… To meet about a movie with the studios and the writers, he was like, “Man, they gotta give me a million dollars,” just to have a meeting. Saying that means, “I'm not really interested.” Nobody gives a million dollars for a meeting. He wanted more than anything to go on the road.
Currently, we're in the wild wild west of entertainment again, where we're getting a lot of YouTube and influencers out there getting all their stories out there as well. Do you see the same type of hustle nowadays that Rudy had?
Eddie Murphy: Well, I think that the internet and YouTube and all of that just opened up this big piece of canvas that wasn't there before. And so, it's different than Rudy. When Rudy was doing what Rudy was doing, it's really against [the current]. There is no crack to squeeze through. There's no place to post it or nothing. It's a much bigger gamble. There's no, “I went viral and all these people [saw].” There is none of that. So, it's really different. It's different.
The director, Craig Brewer, he did a brilliant job directing this film. But what stood out that you wanted to bring him over to Coming 2 America too?
Eddie Murphy: Because he did such a great job on Dolemite. And I love his other movies, Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan. I knew how talented he was, and he had cracked Dolemite out of the park.
Going into Dolemite, it wasn’t – I mean, funny stuff is happening. But the movie is… I want to say it's not a comedy. And it's not a biopic, because it's not about the life of Rudy Ray Moore. It’s about this period in his life when he got these records made and did these movies.
Eddie Murphy: In telling that story, funny things were happening, and Craig was able to make things funnier, or shoot something a certain way that made stuff even funnier. So, I was like, “Hey, I'm getting ready to do this Coming 2 America movie. He's perfect for it.”
- Dolemite Is My Name (2019) release date: Oct 25, 2019