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Eddie Murphy: 'I can't imagine wanting to do movies again'

Eddie Murphy speaks onstage during the LA Tastemaker

Eddie Murphy speaks onstage during the LA Tastemaker event for Comedians in Cars at The Paley Center for Media on July 17, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. Credit: Getty Images for Netflix/Emma McIntyre

After mentioning in a podcast this summer that he was planning "to tour, do some standup" in 2020, comedy legend Eddie Murphy is discussing his excitement and expectations for what he says will be a global return to his roots.

"Once I get back onstage, I kind of feel like that's what I was born to do more than anything," the Roosevelt-raised comedian, 58, said in an interview published Monday  in WSJ. Magazine.  "When I get back on the stage, I can't imagine wanting to do movies again."

Murphy, who last performed standup "when I was 27, 28" after launching a film career with such hits as "48 Hrs." (1982), "Trading Places" (1983), "Beverly Hills Cop" (1984) and "Coming to America" (1988) -- the sequel to which he is now filming -- said, "I've been wanting to get back on the stage for years, waiting for the right moment. For at least 10 years I've been thinking about doing standup. And now it's like, OK, this is perfect," with the confluence of his well-received Rudy Ray Moore film biography "Dolemite Is My Name," his appearance on "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" and his upcoming hosting of "Saturday Night Live," the show where he reached stardom after establishing himself in Long Island clubs.

"Everybody's got this expectation," he said of planned standup tour. "I don't even know what's going to come out. I know I'm still the same dude. I'm still the same person. I'm older, and I've changed the way people change when you get older. But whatever mechanism made me funny, how I come up with jokes -- I'll be at the house and funny (expletive) still comes out of my mouth. I'm curious to see what happens when I put it all together and get onstage. I hope to live up to everybody's expectations. Whatever it is, it's going to be me."

He said he  is unconcerned about what he called "the woke stuff," referring to what comedians including Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Mel Brooks call audience oversensitivity to edgy material. "It was always like that," Murphy insisted, recalling having "to apologize for stuff. And that was, you know, 30 years ago. … But it's not like I'm looking at it like, 'Oh, now I don't know if I can do stand-up because it's changed.' It's like, it changed for everyone else. That's the way it always was for me. The difference is now I'm sitting and seeing how [things are]. So when I put my stuff together, I ain't stepping on nobody's toes, giving nobody reasons to picket me and all that…."

He also talked about growing up and seeing R-rated Rudy Ray Moore movies with his brother Charlie, saying that "in Roosevelt, Long Island, the movie theater on Nassau Road would let kids come in to see R-rated movies. When I was, you know, 12, 13 years old, they just let you come in."

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