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NORBIT

Putting The Pieces Together
Eddie and Charles Murphy wrote the script for "Norbit” on a kind of "What the Hey” basis. "My brother's been writing scripts for years and years,” says Eddie Murphy, who not only plays three characters in "Norbit,” but shares producing duties with John Davis. "And he got this heat off the ‘Chapelle' show. I was like, ‘Hey, let's write something together. You're this hot writer now. Let's do something.”

Although they had previously teamed up on other projects, as Charlie Murphy recalls, the process was not without pressure.

"What made it hard was the fact that I was working with someone of the caliber of Eddie Murphy. He's my brother, but he is Eddie Murphy, so it's a high expectation there. I knew I wanted to make sure I did a real good job. And Eddie made sure that we did a good job.” 

Inspired by footage that they viewed on the Internet, the brothers worked together to frame the story.

"On the Net,” recalls Charles Murphy, "there was footage of a man and his wife having a straight-up, knock-down, drag-out fight in the street. And it was always basically the same reaction from guys when they watched this – they're shocked because the woman is destroying the guy with no problem.”

"So my brother and I wrote this thing,” says Eddie. "It was about that battered husband.”

Such was the inspiration for a most unlikely couple – the quiet, subservient Norbit who is cruelly and continuously dominated by his controlling wife, Rasputia. But in the hands of the side-splitting Murphy brothers, the story was given a comedic twist and expanded to include a whole array of outrageous characters. "Rasputia is an overbearing, abusive wife. Norbit is kind of like a passive, gentle guy, who Rasputia has under her thumb,” is how Eddie Murphy puts it. "And she's always controlling every aspect of her husband's life.

"Norbit and Rasputia meet in the sandbox, literally,” he continues. "He meets her when he's a little boy. And, from day one, she's,” he states, matter-of-factly, "‘You're gonna be my boyfriend.' And she makes him be her boyfriend - all through grammar school and junior high school and high school. And they get out of school and get married. She takes over his whole life from childhood”

Producing a film with broad comedic appeal is nothing new for producer John Davis. "When Eddie and his brother Charlie asked me to be involved with their script, I was ecstatic. This is the fourth movie I've done with Eddie.” Davis. and Murphy had previously worked together on several successful comedies including "Dr. Dolittle,” "Dr. Dolittle 2” and "Daddy Day Care.” "And what I loved about this one is that it's Eddie Murphy playing multiple characters and bringing an outrageousness to them.”

Eddie Murphy concurs: "I wanted to do something a little edgy, because I'd been doing a lot of family movies, a lot of stuff with kids - "Shrek” and "Daddy Daycare” and "Haunted Mansion,” which were terribly cute films, but I wanted to do something that people were, coming to me and asking, ‘Hey, when are you gonna do standup?' and, ‘When are you gonna do something that I wanna see - the Eddie Murphy movie, something with a little unnnh?' So we said OK, we gave them something a little edgy because that's what they've been waiting on, and that's what I've been wanting to do for a while.”

With the script greenlit, finding the right director for the project was crucial. Brian Robbins enthusiastically came on board to direct after reading the script and realizing that here was an opportunity to work with one of his long-time idols.

"The opportunity to work with Eddie Murphy was a no-brainer for me,” recalls Robbins. "As a kid who grew up in Brooklyn, New York, I remember watching "Saturday Night Live” and imitating everything Eddie did and knowing every word from every<

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