Eddie Murphy Explains Refusal to Play Bill Cosby at 'SNL 40': "Nothing Funny About It"

Eddie Murphy - H 2015
Andy Kropa/Invision/AP

"If you get up there and you crack jokes about him, you're just hurting people."

Eddie Murphy decided not to play Bill Cosby when he returned to Saturday Night Live for its 40th anniversary episode earlier this year. He explained his decision not to reprise his Cosby impression in an interview with The Washington Post.

“I totally understood,” Murphy said, speaking of the sketch Norm Macdonald asked him to perform. “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 wrote was hysterical.”

In the end, though, he couldn't do it. "It’s horrible," he told the Washington Post. "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.’ "

When Cosby heard that Murphy turned down the opportunity to mock him, he expressed his gratitude. "I am very appreciative of Eddie, and I applaud his actions," said Cosby.

"He will not kick a man when he is down," Macdonald said of Murphy after the anniversary show. "Eddie Murphy, I realize, is not like the rest of us. Eddie does not need the laughs."