Heís Charlie Murphy. The man truthfully needs no introduction. If youíve witnessed any part of pop culture the past twenty years, you know his name and you know his work. From CB4 to Chappelleís Show, Murphy has worked with everyone, and his resume is only getting bigger with his massive 2006 / 2007 work schedule. Murphy recently took a minute to sit down with us at SOAK to speak about the projects heís working on, what it was like to work with Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, and why the smell of burnt butter will send him running to the bathroom.
SOAK: First off, may I call you Gusto?
Charlie Murphy: Yeah, you can call me Gusto, man, you can call me that.
SOAK: Are we ever going to get a CB4 DVD with commentary?
Charlie: Who knows man? I was talking with Chris Rock the other day. We were talking about CB4, and how some of the things we were doing in the movie were ten years before its time, because all that stuff started happening; rappers taking the names of gangsters, gangsters running record companies, and all that stuff was first shown in CB4.
SOAK: Now youíve worked with both Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, two of the greatest stand up comics of our time. Were those experiences similar in any ways?
Charlie: They both have their own individual personalities and their own flow, their own energies, but theyíre both good energies; theyíre both very smart people. Thatís the common thing they share, theyíre both highly intelligent brothers. Theyíre both extremely good comedians, they both touch on social commentary, they both tell smart jokes and they both have their own industry ring.
SOAK: Obviously youíve become a household name due to Chappelleís Show. What were your expectations going into that?
Charlie: Just to work once a week, just to be involved in a show. I was looking at it like, hey, you donít know how long a showís gonna last, but every time you get on there, itís another thing to put on your reel. My focus was never to be a TV star, it was to be a movie star and I became famous on television.
SOAK: So are you cool with being a television star at this point?
Charlie: Very cool with it, thatís why Iím getting paid. Iím about to have to my own TV show on, you know what Iím sayin?
SOAK: Thatís the show with Donnell Rawlings. But before we get to that, what was your favorite role on Chappelleís Show?
Charlie: It was the Time Haters, or something like that, when I was playing Buck Nasty. We had a lot of fun doing that.
SOAK: Whatís your approach to comedy?
Charlie: Comedy, number one has a lot to do with personality. Number two, how you connect is by talking about things that people are versed in. If youíre talking about something that someone is not versed in and now they have to take the time to learn what it is youíre talking about, by that time, you will have hit the punchline. You have to talk about things that everybody is involved in, not just what your interests are. The same thing with movies. If you think about any film that did tremendously at the box office, if you look at the cast of characters, if you break down the ratio of the audience and what type of people are in the audience, you will find that those people are represented by one of the characters in the film. Itís somebody on the screen that they can root for, that they connect with, that they feel is like them, and thatís why they like the movie.
SOAK: Youíve become a cult hero of sorts. How are you dealing with that?
Charlie: Itís all good. The way it comes is just another form of fame and as an entertainer, fame is what allows you to work and I look at it pretty much like that, the more that you have, the higher quality work youíre gonna have, the better youíre gonna be paid for your work. The bigger the degree of the fame, the bigger the degree of acceptance and opportunities to work.
SOAK: So what do you think when you see celebrities on talk shows telling everybody to leave them alone?
Charlie: I hope they donít get their wish. Trust me, theyíll want people to get back on Ďem. I understand, too, that thereís a thin line, because youíre dealing with a human being and sometimes youíll get that, theyíll treat you like youíre a circus animal or some shit, like you donít have feelings, and thatís where some people can get angry and be like, I donít want people to bother me. If they have too much of a dose of that, they tune into that energy and it saps the good feelings.
SOAK: Have you had any weird fans in your life?
Charlie: Yeah, of course. The weirdest thing so far would be in Nebraska, where a guy said, we love you in Nebraska Charlie Murphy, we love you. And he was really being genuine, I really believed he meant that, but to show how much he loved me, he gave me a hollow point deer rifle bullet and put it in my hand, and squeezed my hand real hard, then walked away. I was like, hey, what the fuck is this? You mean you love me and you give me that? That was weird.
SOAK: Eddie Murphy is your brother. What kind of parallels have you seen in your careers?
Charlie: I think the parallel would be that we were both on situation comedy television shows and we were successful on them. He was successful on Saturday Night Live and I was successful on Chappelleís Show.
SOAK: Could you ever see yourselves working together on something?
Charlie: Yeah, weíre working on a movie right now called Norbit. We finished shooting on July 15th and I figure it will be out in about a year. Next summer, itís gonna be poppiní off. It started about a guy whoís a nerdy, wimpy, introverted guy and he marries this bold, violent, very strong, abusive wife. She works in a gravel pit and she works with a jackhammer, and has arms like a man. She comes home from work and she wants her dinner cooked or sheís whipping somebodyís ass. Itís not just her; she has an entire family, three brothers and a father, and theyíre all of the same make and mold The whole family is bullies. She forces this guy to marry her and they make him the bookkeeper for their business. All kinds of funny shit is happening throughout the movie where heís realizing heís unhappy with the relationship and he wants to be out. Then thereís another girl whoís basically Cinderella, she sees him for the heart that he has and she falls in love with him, and he has to be secretive about the fact that he fell in love with her or his wife will beat his ass. Itís really really funny. Itís my brother, Cuba Gooding, Eddie Griffin, and Katt Williams, and thereís a host of other people.
SOAK: When you and Eddie were growing up, what was the most messed up thing you ever did to each other?
Charlie: I remember one time we were home alone and I forced my brother to fix my breakfast, so that was the messed up thing I did to him. What he did to get me back was, he put the butter in the frying pan and let it burn Ďtil it was black, and then he scrambled eggs in it. He gave Ďem to me and actually had the nerve to put a forkful of it in my mouth at which point, I projectile vomited. Ever since that day, and this was many years ago, the smell of burnt butter will run me out of this room. It scarred me for life.
SOAK: Damn, well moving back to more positive things, what else are you working on now?
Charlie: Iím doing my film, Twist The Cap. Iím on the set of that. Iím really happy to be in this movie. A bunch of the guys that I worked with on the road are in it: my man Donnell Rawlings, Dave Attell, a bunch of comedians from the New York area. Everybodyís trying to help each other and one day weíre going to be doing big things.
SOAK: And to go with all that, youíve got the show with Donnell, Charlie vs. Donnell, coming up.
Charlie: Neil Brennan is producing that and weíre going to start shooting that next month. Itís been a magical time. To have a feature that you wrote (Norbit) in production thatís up and running, theyíre more than halfway through the film, and also have the first movie where Iím the star of the movie and itís happening at the same time. I have three movies coming out, Unearthed, a sci-fi horror film, Bar Starz and Retirement, and I have a cameo in Ben Stillerís next movie. Iím also doing a big tour with Joe Rogan, the Maxim tour, 25 cities that started in October. Itís just insane right now.