Eddie Murphy rejected an offer to play Bill Cosby on the 40th anniversary “Saturday Night Live” special, according to cast member and writer Norm Macdonald.
The sketch centred around Murphy, dressed in one of Cosby’s signature multicoloured sweaters, mixing a drink. Cosby, once a beloved figure in US comedy and one of the first truly mainstream black TV stars, stands accused of drugging a series of women with spiked drinks, before sexually assaulting them.
Macdonald says that film producer Brett Ratner was called on to suggest the sketch to Murphy, who was “uncomfortable”, though wondered if it would be acceptable to perform it “since he’s doing pre-allegation Cosby”. On the night of the show, Macdonald tried further to convince him, but failed.
“[Murphy] knew the laughs would bring the house down. Eddie Murphy knows what will work on SNL better than any one [sic], Eddie decides the laughs are not worth it. He will not kick a man when he is down. Eddie Murphy, I realize, is not like the rest of us. Eddie does not need the laughs,” Macdonald said.