Charlie Murphy died after a long battle with Leukemia at the heartbreaking age of 57-years-young. The actor became someone so much more than “Eddie’s younger brother” in 2004, when Dave Chappelle began airing "Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories" on his industry-annihilating Comedy Central show. The pair of R-rated tales detailed his first-person accounts of rubbing shoulders with the likes of two other dearly departed luminaries in the form of Prince, and Rick James, during the New York native’s days as his broheim’s bodyguard.
In 2006, I had the pleasure of interviewing the most mercurial of Murphys for a long dead publication who blasphemously ran very little of Charlie’s many life lessons.
The following is, at long last, an uncensored look inside the mind of a man whose currently eating pancakes with His Purpleness, atop the bleachers of heaven’s most exclusive basketball court.
Bill Schulz: You’re currently filming the horror movie Unearthed in Utah. Are you, like, the one black man in the state right now?
Charlie Murphy: Now there’s some black people here because of what happened in New Orleans but, other than that, there’s very few. If you like city life don’t move here. This place is like slow motion.
Got any particularly embarrassing duds in your closet from back in the day?
I had a satin roller-skating jacket and, now that I’ve just told you about it, I’m gonna have to burn it. I think the jacket is one of the remnants from the tours back in the eighties. The Raw tour, I think.
Speaking of, one of Eddie’s famous bits was about your mom’s method of discipline. Did she really throw her shoes at you guys?
I think everybody’s mom did that once or twice. Your mom never threw a shoe at you?
My momma used to throw a shoe, or whatever was close by. She was pretty accurate. All it takes is to get hit one time and you remember it for the rest of your life -- know what I’m saying?
What were your impressions of Michael Jackson back when Eddie was hanging out with him a lot?
I was around him, but I never made an effort to meet him, because it was obvious that he and I had nothing in common, so therefore what am I talking to him for? Why act like I’m happy to be around him when I’m not? I thought he was soft. I don’t hang out with soft cats. Eddie just liked the superstar thing, but I didn’t care how many records he sold. Eddie knows that. He knows me.
Did you believe the accusations against Michael?
[Pauses] I’d rather not publicly make a comment on whether I believe or not believe. He’s been cleared, he’s out, and it’s not for me to say in this forum. He played with the pixie dust and then he got too into the pixie himself. I’m definitely not gonna go, “yes, Charlie Murphy says Michael Jackson is guilty.” I’m not living with that, so no comment.
Rick James participated in his Hollywood Story, but Prince didn’t. Does he not have a sense of humor?
Prince liked it. He was very pleased when it came out. The reason he didn’t participate was he heard, "comedians want you in the show, blah, blah, blah," and it scared him. He didn’t know what we was gonna do, or how it was gonna go down. Prince doesn’t do TV show type stuff, anyway. But he’s seen it, and hung out with Dave after it, and everything.
Do you think Dave's relationship with co-writer Neal Brennan lead to him walking away from the show? I heard they were at odds.
If they was having problems, that was unbeknownst to me. I got to know Neal Brennan better than I got to know Dave. Dave was kind an arm’s distance from everybody. But I understood that, because a lot of people were coming up on him and it made him uncomfortable. But I talk to Neal almost every day. That’s my dawg, man. We got a TV show thing we’re trying to work out. Right now it’s in its infancy stage, and I don’t want to talk about it and jinx it.
When was the last time you spoke with Dave?
I spoke to him about a month ago. He said he was coming to my show, but he didn’t show up. I don’t know why.
Give me a Charlie Murphy True Hollywood Story that never aired but should have.
Uh, I can’t give that up, man. That’s worth money!
Ah, come on. Give me a preview then. A sample that’ll leave me wanting more…
Hmm. Hmmm. I really don’t want to do that, man. Somebody came to me 4 months ago saying they wanted to do a DVD of my set and they were gonna give me $100,000. I could make a $100,000 a month by showing up and doing it around the country. You want me to tell you a story, come to my show. I’ll tell you plenty of stories.
What makes Charlie Murphy laugh?
Seeing someone get their ass kicked. That’s why I like watching Steven Seagal movies, man. They make me scream. I’m like, yeah, fuck that guy up! He deserves it! Now maybe he’ll go to church and get his life right.
What makes Charlie Murphy cry?
I think it was at the movies was the last time I cried. I think it was Roll/Bounce.
How does Charlie Murphy make others cry?
I like to tease people. I hate when people do it to me, though. I have a very good talent at finding out exactly what it is about yourself that you don’t like and then keep bringing it up. I can remember pissing Eddie off several times when we were kids. I made him so mad that he started cursing, and grandma was on the phone, and I was like, “You better stop cursing cause grandma is on the phone.” And he was, like, “I don’t give a fuck who was on the phone!” He was 10 years old. After that, he just started throwing stuff at me.
How was your time serving in the military?
There’s a lot of racism when I was in the Navy, and I had to deal with that. I worked in a boiler room, but when I signed up it didn’t say “boiler room” it said “thermal dynamic engineer.” So I thought it was something special. I was like, wow I get to be an engineer! I thought I’d leave the Navy and be ready for NASA. And of course, by the time I found out what it really was it was too late. I would cry it was so hot.
Have you taken Eddie out on the town now that he’s single again?
I got nothing to do with that, bro. He’s a grown man, he don’t need my help for nothing as far as getting chicks, or any of that. All we do is play video games, talk shit to each other, eat -- normal stuff. We ain’t kids no more, man.
You’re a pretty hard guy. What do you make of the current crop of rappers trying to be equally tough?
I’m laughing at em. I’m not taking it literal. You think those guys are really doing all they say they’re doing? Come on, man. All of em are full of shit. I don’t believe 50 Cent is doing what he says he’s doing, and then he’s out on stage at a show. If you really did all this stuff and put it on tape, then why don’t the cops come get you? If he really committed crimes wouldn’t they come and arrest him?
What is people’s first impression of Charlie Murphy?
That I’m intimidating, which I don’t like. I’m trying to learn how to not give that off. I’m not the boogieman.