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In 1975, comedian, singer and actor Rudy Ray Moore broke into Hollywood as blaxploitation’s iconic Dolemite, a brash, over-the-top, revenge-seeking pimp. Nearly 44 years later at Westwood’s Regency Theater on Saturday night, Eddie Murphy channeled the late blaxploitation star for his return to the big screen and gave life to Moore’s rise in the industry.
“It’s a great story, it’s a great inspirational story about this man who did something incredible and people don’t know about it,” Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter on his project at the premiere.
Writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski told THR that they worked on the project with Murphy for about 16 years before it landed at Netflix’s door. During the years-long interim, they said that “it all went away.” They picked the story back up after their time on American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson and crafted the project with Murphy who they said, had them exclusively in mind.
“For a project that took a long time to get made, when it happened it happened right away,” Alexander said.
Murphy, who also produced the film, noted that he didn’t intend Dolemite Is My Name to be his return to the screen, saying, “I wasn’t thinking about it right then. It was just something I was trying to put together for years.”
Director Craig Brewer, however, thought that the Netflix film was a project fit for bringing back Murphy as the comedian people “know and love,” while also introducing him to newer generations.
“I never had a worry that Eddie wouldn’t be able to have a great performance,” Brewer said. “People are seeing nuances to his performance that they’ve always known were there, but now they get a really great showcase of it.”
Wesley Snipes stars alongside Murphy as D’Urville Martin, the director who helmed 1975’s Dolemite, and shared his thoughts on the film’s leading man.
He said that Murphy’s time on the film was special following the death of his brother Charlie Murphy, to whom Murphy dedicated the movie in 2017. Snipes also dubbed the film’s lead actor “a master” of his craft.
“You’re gonna get a chance to see him do his thing again,” Snipes told THR.
Keegan-Michael Key, who stars as Dolemite writer Jerry Jones, said that Murphy channels Moore not only physically, but also mentally. “What Eddie’s tapping into is, ‘How can I Make this movie the best it can be,’ the same way Rudy was doing this,” he said.
Co-star Tituss Burgess, who plays producer Theodore Toney, said that he’s grateful to Murphy for bringing him onto the project. He said that his role as an openly gay black producer resonates with him on a personal level.
Burgess also explained that he doesn’t necessarily agree with the idea of Murphy making a comeback, nothing that the actor never left.
“If you come back, that means you’ve been somewhere. That means you were lost, that means you left,” he said. “I don’t know if Eddie Murphy left, in my mind he’s always been here, ever-present.”
After the premiere, members of the cast and their crews headed over to the Baltaire in Brentwood for an evening of dining, socializing and dancing.
The Baltaire boasted some Dolemite flair with napkins stamped with Moore’s signature devil, a Dolemite Is My Name cocktail bar as well as photo booth.
Snoop Dogg, who also stared in the Netflix film, spoke with afterparty attendees and friends as he bobbed next to the DJ set. Across the floor, Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter donned some Dolemite style with sunglasses and a fur coat over at the photo booth situated in the restaurant’s wine room.
Also attending the Dolemite Is My Name premiere night was Tracy Morgan, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Ted Sarandos and Chris Kattan.
Dolemite Is My Name hits select theaters Oct. 4 and will begin streaming on Netflix on Oct. 25.
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