It’s 10 years since Dreamgirls arrived in cinemas and while the film has undoubtedly stood the test of time, the legacy it has left behind for one of it’s co-stars remains to this day.
When Eddie Murphy signed on to play Jimmy “Thunder” Early he undoubtedly did so with one eye on the Academy Awards.
Essentially a fusion of James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson, the rise and fall of Early, who starts the movie as a raucous, sexualized performer but fades into depression and drug is a key component of the movie and a role that screamed awards nominations.
Perhaps that was what convinced Murphy to take on the role in the first place. After all, he had been largely hesitant to do so until a conversation with DreamwWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Murphy needed Dreamgirls though. The Shrek movies aside, the early 2000s had largely been an unmitigated disaster at the box office.
Showtime, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy and The Haunted Mansion had all bombed with Pluto Nash in particular proving a major dud, earning Murphy a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor.
Going into the movie, the stakes were pretty high. Succeed and Murphy’s movie career and credibility would be back on track, but fail and there could have been no way back.
In any case, Murphy proven beyond all doubt he was a more than capable performer, with his turn as Early among the highlights of the movie.
As predicted, the award nominations came rolling in and when he won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion picture along with the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, it felt like an Oscar win was inevitable.
Except the Academy had other ideas with Alan Arkin landing the best supporting actor gong for his turn in Little Miss Sunshine.
If Murphy had taken the news in his stride, perhaps things would have been different. But Eddie didn’t. Making a hasty exit from the Academy Awards ceremony after Arkin took the prize, Murphy’s strop off didn’t go unnoticed, particularly when his co-star, Jennifer Hudson, landed the best supporting actress gong.
Murphy, himself, must have been hurt by the situation too, following what was a career-best turn. A couple of years later Murphy got some revenge of sorts too, after backing out of an agreement to host the 2011 Oscars following the departure of Bret Ratner as producer.
Having had his fingers burned by the Dreamgirls experience, Murphy returned to familiar territory with flops like Norbit, Meet Dave and A Thousand Words.
Maybe that was a personal choice or maybe the directors offering the meatier roles stopped calling but, for whatever reason, Murphy’s career has never quite recovered.
And with rumours persisting that Murphy is to star in a Twins sequel alongside Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s difficult to see things improving any time soon, which is a crying shame for what remains a once-in-a-generation talent
How Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine was the luckiest casting break in Hollywood history
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.