Eddie Murphy Talks Channeling Bruce Lee, Reveals the Strange Question Obama Asked Him

During his interview on 'The Late Show,' Murphy opened up about his upcoming 'Saturday Night Live' hosting gig and his new movie 'Dolemite Is My Name,' in which he plays late comedian Rudy Ray Moore.
Scott Kowalchyk/CBS
Eddie Murphy on 'The Late Show'

Eddie Murphy is making the rounds again on late-night shows, and prior to his anticipated return to NBC's Saturday Night Live in December, he stopped by CBS' The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to talk about his comedic inspirations and the strange question he was asked by then-President Barack Obama while receiving the Mark Twain Prize in 2015.

Firstly, Murphy recalled the former POTUS asking him, "When are you going to do stand-up again?," a question the comedian has been asked by many industry figures and fans over the years. Murphy recently revealed in an episode of the Netflix podcast Present Company that he will be embarking on a stand-up tour in 2020.

Colbert was curious if Murphy had performed his Obama impression at that time, to which the comedian replied, "I don't really know if I do a good Obama." Elaborating more on his interaction with the former president, Murphy shared that his hair was a topic of conversation, due to both of their lack of gray hair. He also remembered one strange question in particular, "[Obama] said, 'what kind of rinse are you using?'" Laughing about it with Colbert, Murphy touched his hair and said, "I don't have a rinse. I get gray hairs in my mustache and my nose of all places, but my hair is still black."

Colbert maximized the appearance of the legendary comic on his CBS show by asking a host of comedy- and career-related questions, including, at one point, which comedic "greats" Murphy was inspired by. His favorites included Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor and Charlie Chaplin, but he said he "aspired" to be most like Pryor. Outside of comedy, Murphy also cited Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee. "When I take a gun out in a movie, I'm trying to do Bruce Lee faces," he said.

The pair went on to talk about Murphy's upcoming SNL hosting gig, which is the first time in 35 years that he has been in the role. The Late Show host asked Murphy if audiences can expect some of his old characters like Gumby or Buckwheat, to which he replied, "I would imagine." Murphy later said, "I'm looking forward to going back and doing that stuff. I hope it's funny."

Considering his history with the show, Murphy shared, "SNL is such a big part of who I am, and you don't want to go back after 35 years and the show is like, 'Ah, it was alright.'" Expanding upon his career, Colbert was curious if Murphy ever had a fallback in place if comedy didn't work out. "I started doing stand-up when I was 15, and things kind of came together quick, you know," the comic responded. He later said that his mother was fine with him going into show business, especially when he began to bring paychecks home.

Speaking about Murphy's latest movie, Dolemite Is My Name, Colbert pointed out that the comedian plays late comedy and rap icon Rudy Ray Moore, who didn't find fame until he was older. Explaining who Moore was for those who might be unfamiliar, Murphy said that he was an "underground comedian back in the '70s and he did really, really, really x-rated adult humor." Moore would finance his movies himself during the black exploitation era when it was difficult to get projects made. "He was a little hero of mine," said Murphy, adding that Moore's guerrilla filmmaking style was an inspiration to him.

Watch clips of Murphy's appearance below.