Already a massive television star, Beverly Hills Cop sent the career of Eddie Murphy into the stratosphere.
The movie was the highest grossing film of 1984 and earned $234,760,478 in the box office. Murphy went on to star in other blockbuster movies — and more than a few mega-bombs — but Beverly Hills Cop is considered to be one of his finest comedic performances in film.
Just like every other Hollywood hit, the list of actors offered the role of the wise-mouthed cop from Pittsburgh, Elly Axel, who’s transplanted into a strange new world of Beverly Hills, is extensive. Yes, the original script titled Beverly Drive had the main character carrying the moniker of Elly Axel and he hailed from the Steel City. Mickey Rourke signed a $400, 000 holding contract to star in the film but later bailed when the script revisions stalled the making of the movie. Richard Pryor, Al Pacino, and James Caan we all considered for the role of Elly.
The biggest name attached to the Beverly Hills Cop project belonged to an already colossal movie star. Sylvester Stallone expressed interest in the lead role and was sent the script to make slight revisions. Naturally, Stallone rewrote the whole damn movie.
The script was then sent to Sylvester Stallone, who gave the script a dramatic rewrite and made it into a straight action film. In one of the previous drafts written for Stallone, the character of Billy Rosewood was called “Siddons” and was killed off half-way through the script during one of the action scenes. Stallone had renamed the lead character to Axel Cobretti with the character of Michael Tandino (James Russo) being his brother and Jenny Summers (Lisa Eilbacher) playing his love interest.
Stallone’s script of Beverly Hills Cop would have “looked like the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan on the beaches of Normandy. Believe it or not, the finale was me in a stolen Lamborghini playing chicken with an oncoming freight train being driven by the ultra-slimy bad guy.” However, Stallone’s ideas were deemed “too expensive” for Paramount to produce and Stallone ultimately pulled out two weeks before filming was to start. Two days later, the film’s producers, Simpson and Bruckheimer, were able to convince Eddie Murphy to replace Stallone in the film, prompting massive rewrites.
That’s a long way off from the eventual banana in the tailpipe gag. Murphy took the part, made the role his own, and the rest is movie history.
All of that work wasn’t a total loss for Sly. His Beverly Hills Cop changes were useful in his next film, in which he wrote and starred, about a tough cop in the LAPD named Marion Cobretti called Cobra.