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Eddie Murphy On The Timeliness Of His New Film You People

Eddie Murphy On The Timeliness Of His New Film You People

Eddie Murphy and Johah hill sit in a barber shop in You Poeple
Courtesy of Netflix

The actor and comedian spoke with PRIDE about how the film addresses racial tension in America.

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You People is unlike any other rom-com, which is exactly why Eddie Murphy was compelled to star in it.

“It was a romantic comedy that was unique because it has this racial conversation that’s going on. The last time you saw that is Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Most romantic comedies don’t have that,” he recalls to PRIDE about what made him decide to take the role.

Jonah Hill, Nia Long and Eddie Murphy meet in a resturant in You People

Courtesy of Netflix

Not only is You People laugh-out-loud funny (and full-body-squirm-inducingly uncomfortable), it’s also incredibly timely, offering audiences an important message with all those giggles. “Racial tension is at a fever pitch right now so to do a movie, a romantic comedy, with this race dialogue just seemed like that could be a really cool hip thing to do,” says Murphy.

Watch PRIDE’s full interview with Eddie Murphy below.

The actor’s character, Akbar Mohammed, is a devout Muslim and a member of the Nation of Islam. He’s also the father of Amira (Lauren London) who, after meeting Jonah Hill’s Ezra during a ride-share meet cute, is swept off her feet. To say that Akbar isn’t thrilled to meet his daughter’s white, Jewish paramour is an understatement! Horrified is perhaps a better descriptor, and he quickly becomes determined to end the relationship before the two can make it down the aisle.

While Ezra’s parents — played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and David Duchovny — might not oppose the relationship, their tone deafness and tension with Akbar and his wife Fatima (Nia Long) may prove to be just as fatal to the budding romance.

The cast of You People sit around a dinner table talking

Courtesy of Netflix

The result of all this tension is a series of awkward, but necessary, conversations. Murphy shares that this film can serve as a jumping-off point for that in real life. “The film isn’t going to close those divides, the film will just add to the conversation. The collective conversations plus time is how those divides ultimately get closed. The film is just a little teeny little piece of it, a little piece to keep the conversation going,” he explains.

Eddie Murphy and Lauren London hug behind the scenes of You People

Courtesy of NEtflix

While all of this makes the movie especially resonant today, it’s also important to remember it’s very funny. Thanks to a razor-sharp script by director and co-writer Kenya Barris (Black-ish, Grown-ish) and, of course, the chemistry of the actors, particularly between Murphy and Hill. The tension crackles when they’re together, a product of both what was on the page and the improvisation skills of the actors.

Eddie Murphy, Jonah Hill and Sam Jay on a plane in You People

Courtesy of Netflix

“There’s a great deal of improvising all the stuff that me and Jonah are doing in the movie,” reveals Murphy. “But the script is solid. It’s like, you get all the stuff that’s in the script. And then you do a couple of takes where you add stuff to it. But the stuff that makes the story and the characters and the dialogue is already there and solid before you need to improvise.”

You People is streaming now on Netflix. Watch the trailer below.

A new couple learns that opposites attract but some families don’t when they find themselves confronting their parent's clashing views of their relationship ...

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Rachel Shatto

EIC of PRIDE.com

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.