Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I liked speaking with Charlie Murphy, despite a bad cell phone connection, because he clearly isn't trading off of his famous younger brother. And yet he doesn't have that "I've gotta prove something" atttitude.

There's plenty of acting siblings in show business today, including the Wayans, the Baldwins, the Cusacks, and the Gyllenhaals, and now the Murphys.

Only the prominence Charlie Murphy has seen in show business thanks to his appearances on "Chappelle's Show" hasn't been due to his famous brother Eddie, but to his own hard work.

And it hasn't come overnight, but after years of working in the industry.

Murphy has had small parts in big movies such the recent hit "Night at the Museum," larger roles in low budget films, written scripts, performed voice-overs for animation and taken a stand-up act around the country. He will be appearing at the Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee Nov. 24.

He told Reminder Publications last week that his career has been the result of "happy accidents."

"I've worked for it for 17 years," he said.

Charlie is the older brother of the two and started working in the industry. His resemblance to his brother has actually been a hindrance as some casting directors used it as an excuse not to hire him. They didn't want people to think they hired an Eddie Murphy ringer, he explained.

"I had to force my way in," he added.

He was asked to try stand-up and despite his brother's reputation Charlie called Eddie "one of the last true kings of the game" he "summoned the cajones to show up."

He remembered the first time on stage was not as scary as every time since.

"The first time I had nothing to lose," he said. "Now every time you got out, you've got to deliver."

He loves the medium, though. Stand-up, he said, is "the most free" a performer can be.

"It's your thoughts, your creation," he said. "It means more because it's all you."

Although a large part of his act is improvisation, Murphy is constantly thinking of gags and routines.

"Twenty four hours a day even when I sleep that light is on," he said.

Murphy said that being a stand-up comedian is like being a boxer and one has to train all year-round, not just before a big fight.

Murphy has been busy with a number of film projects but he is especially excited about "The Perfect Holiday," scheduled for theatrical release Dec. 12. Gabrielle Union and Queen Latifah star in the holiday release about a young woman finding true love.

Murphy has a role which "allowed me to breathe in the movie."

"A whole lot of range was shown," he said. "I'm not bragging."

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

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