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'Nutty Professor' a plump
showcase for Murphy

Nutty professor

June 29, 1996
Web posted at: 8:45 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Jim Moret

HOLLYWOOD, California (CNN) -- Whether or not it becomes Eddie Murphy's biggest movie ever, audiences for "The Nutty Professor" will certainly see the biggest Eddie Murphy ever in a movie. (1.6 MB QuickTime movie)

"The Nutty Professor" is based on the 1963 Jerry Lewis comedy about a nerdy college professor who concocts a potion that unleashes a suave, handsome alter ego.

Jerry Lewis (1963)

But Murphy says he didn't choose to do the movie by looking at Jerry Lewis' work and thinking, "Hey, I could do that."

"It was the story. I thought the story was brilliant, to take Jekyll and Hyde and then have him, you know, pursue a woman as this other person and lead this double life," Murphy said.

In addition to seeing a big Eddie Murphy, audiences will see more of him than they might in the average film -- even one in which he's the main character. This time, he plays all the main characters, except for one. He's Professor Sherman Klump, his alter ego Buddy Love, Lance Perkins, Poppa and Momma Klump, Grandma, and Ernie.

The film relies heavily on computer technology, which makes it look at one point as though Murphy, as Professor Klump, is sitting down to dinner with four other characters, all played by him.

"What they can do with technology now, anything you can come up with they can put on the screen and ... I can interact with myself," Murphy said.

Eddie Murphy (1996)

But director Tom Shadyac says that technology notwithstanding, the actor made the scenes work. "He had an uncanny ability to re-create, to act in a scene with no one there, but you could swear that there was someone there," he said.

The cast of Murphy characters provided a unique challenge to his co-star, Jada Pinkett, who plays the object of desire for Klump and his counterpart, Buddy Love. She readily admits that it was difficult to keep a straight face around him.

"That was very difficult because Eddie's silly. Once he gets into one of those characters, he's silly as Sherman, he's silly as his brother, as his father, as Momma Klump, as Grandma Klump; it's like every day he just came with something new."

Just as Klump is reinvented in "The Nutty Professor," Murphy's career may undergo a transformation as well. After a string of disappointments, this film may be Murphy's formula for renewed box office success.

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