Eddie Murphy Turned Down The Lead Role In The Best Animation Ever Made

Eddie Murphy turned down the role of private eye Eddie Valentine in the live-action/animated classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Bob Hoskins in Who Framed Roger Rabbit

It’s difficult to describe just how popular Eddie Murphy was at the height of his power in the ‘80s. The actor exploded onto Saturday Night Live like a kind of elemental force, and it didn’t take long for high-profile movie offers to come his way. He couldn’t star in all of them and later told Jimmy Fallon about one of his bigger regrets: that “I was gonna be the Bob Hoskins dude” in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a role that he ultimately passed on because he didn’t understand how the blend of live-action and animation was going to work.

Without some major changes to the script, it’s difficult to envision Eddie Murphy playing Eddie Valiant, the archetypal noir detective who reluctantly teams up with a wrongfully accused cartoon (the titular Roger Rabbit). In the movie that we all know and love, Eddie basically plays the straight man against Roger’s wacky humor. Considering that Murphy was best known at the time for his own wacky humor, it really seems like he would have been more at home voicing the madcap dialogue of Roger Rabbit.

However, based on the interview with Fallon, it looks like Eddie Murphy would have passed on Who Framed Roger Rabbit no matter what role he was offered. The veteran actor said that the real reason he passed on the part was that he didn’t understand what they intended to do: “Animation and people?! That sounds like b***s*** to me!” 

Considering how amazing Who Framed Roger Rabbit turned out to be, many Eddie Murphy fans are likely sad to discover that he passed on the chance to be part of this movie instead of Bob Hoskins. And nobody is sadder than Murphy himself, who told Fallon that now, whenever he watches the movie, “I feel like an idiot” for passing on the opportunity. And considering how successfully Murphy pulled off buddy cop shenanigans with Nick Nolte in 48 Hours, it’s very easy to imagine how much fun he would have made slapping on a fedora and doing buddy cop shenanigans in Toontown with Roger work in his own way.

However, it’s interesting to note that regrets about the road not taken are pretty common with Eddie Murphy due to the sheer number of opportunities he had to choose from. Perhaps the most famous movie that Murphy passed on was Ghostbusters, a film whose script went through many different iterations and potential cast members, including John Belushi. Murphy had a chance to strap on a proton pack and go fight some ghosts, but he had to pass because he was already signed on to make Beverly Hills Cop (a movie that ended up becoming another awesome icon of the 1980s).

These days, it seems like Eddie Murphy might have nostalgia on his mind: not only did he return to Saturday Night Live for a Christmas special last year, but he starred in Coming 2 America in 2021, a sequel to his hilarious original movie from the 1980s. And he doesn’t mind delving into the past in other ways, including a hilarious starring role in Dolemite Is My Name, a film celebrating Rudy Ray Moore’s infamous character. As long as Murphy is down to bring old movies back to life, we just have one question: when will we finally get a sequel to the underrated comedy Bowfinger