Comic legend Eddie Murphy is set to play funk and R&B legend George Clinton in a new biopic. According to an exclusive report by Deadline, Murphy is in talks to portray the singer in a film that has been a long-time passion project for the former Saturday Night Live cast member. No studio is yet attached, and producers plan to shop the project once rights are secured.
Clinton made his mark in the music business in the 1960s with his work on the Motown label. It was his work with the band’s Parliament and Funkadelic, however, that earned him the title “The Godfather of Funk” in the 1970s. With the rise of rap music in the 1980s, Clinton’s work was elevated to legendary status, and he enjoyed a bit of a professional renaissance, as rap artists including Tupac and Snoop Dogg cited him as an inspiration and sampled his work in their songs. He, along with James Brown, is widely considered the landmark artist of the music genre. Clinton’s performances at Lollapalooza introduced his music to an entirely new generation, winning him a new set of fans. His life seems like a perfect role for Eddie Murphy, who is a singer himself and can handle the musical performances the film is sure to feature.
The film will follow Clinton throughout his career, from his childhood in 1940s North Carolina, through his professional career and his music with Parliament and Funkadelic, and into the 1980s. The 1997 Rock and Hall of Fame inductee is still active in music and is even touring this summer, despite announcing several years ago that he was done with public performing. He was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. It is not clear if Eddie Murphy will portray Clinton throughout his life, or if the film will cover his career in recent decades.
Eddie Murphy recently signed a three-picture deal with streaming service Amazon Prime Video, which saw success with his 2021 sequel Coming 2 America. Amazon is not yet on board with the film, which could go to another studio with an existing relationship with Murphy. That includes Netflix, which is currently producing Murphy’s return as the iconic Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop 4, and also saw success with Dolemite Is My Name in 2019. Beverly Hills Cop 4 is expected to hit the streaming service sometime this year, barring any production delays. Netflix is also producing his next film, You People, a comedy with Jonah Hill.
The Oscar-nominated Murphy will produce the film with John Davis of Davis Entertainment, Catherine Davis, and John Fox. Davis also produced many of Eddie Murphy’s recent films, including Dolemite Is My Name, Daddy Day Care, and the Doctor Dolittle film series. Davis also produced all the Predator films, as well as I Robot with Will Smith, and Disney’s 2021 hit Jungle Cruise. Writers for the project have not yet been named, and Murphy has not yet officially secured the rights to Clinton’s life from the singer.