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Why the acclaimed Eddie Murphy Netflix movie ‘Dolemite Is My Name’ is a comeback story for its director

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Why the acclaimed Eddie Murphy Netflix movie ‘Dolemite Is My Name’ is a comeback story for its director

Category : entrepreneur

  • Director Craig Brewer is riding high with the acclaimed “Dolemite Is My Name,” a look at the making of the Blaxploitation hit “Dolemite,” and is currently shooting the anticipated “Coming to America” sequel. 
  • But for years, Brewer struggled to stay in the business following the success of his hit indie “Hustle & Flow.”
  • Brewer talked to Business Insider about what helped him bounce back and why the story of Rudy Ray Moore getting “Dolemite” on the big screen is similar to his own story.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

 

Though many who have seen the Netflix comedy “Dolemite Is My Name” (in select theaters Friday and on the streaming service starting October 25) have pointed out that Eddie Murphy gives one of his strongest performances in years, he’s not the only one making a comeback with this movie.

Director Craig Brewer, who is known best for his 2005, Memphis-set gritty underdog indie “Hustle & Flow,” has spent a lot of time since that movie trying to navigate what can be the cruel and confidence-shattering business.

“Hustle & Flow” put Brewer on the map thanks to the breakout, Oscar-nominated performance by Terrence Howard and the hit Three 6 Mafia song “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp” (Three 6 Mafia became the first rap group ever to win an Oscar). But after that, Brewer struggled to capitalize on the success.

hustle and flow paramount pictures

“Hustle & Flow.”
Paramount Pictures

His follow-up, “Black Snake Moan,” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci, wasn’t the hit “Hustle & Flow” was. And his 2011 remake of “Footloose” was forgettable. For the next handful of years, Brewer bounced around trying to get TV pilots and feature scripts off the ground with little success. The biggest wins he got for his effort were creating the online series “$5 Cover” for MTV in 2009 and getting a screenwriter credit on the 2016 movie “The Legend of Tarzan.”

“It was getting really hard to get movies made,” Brewer told Business Insider. “But I think it was a good healthy time for me to go through a rough patch.”

Read more: “Joker” is a chilling look at one of the greatest villains in comics that’s all the more twisted because of its realness

But around 2015 things changed when Lee Daniels, the cocreator of the hit Fox series “Empire,” hired Brewer to write, direct, and produce two seasons of the show. It was the shot in the arm the filmmaker needed to prove to himself that he could still be a storyteller.

“My career was rescued by Lee Daniels,” Brewer said. “I kind of fell in love with directing again on that show. It wasn’t this heartbreaking place that movies had gone to for me where you write a script and then spend three years to get it going and then it would die.”

In fact, Brewer said his first encounter with Eddie Murphy was just that: teaming on a project that never got off the ground. But that led to Brewer being on Murphy’s mind when he was developing “Dolemite Is My Name,” a movie that looks at the making of the Blaxploitation classic “Dolemite” and its driven creator, Rudy Ray Moore.

dolemite

Rudy Ray Moore in the 1975 Blaxploitation classic “Dolemite.”
Xenon Pictures

Though the late-1970s movie is known best for its below-par filmmaking and profanity-laced insults delivered throughout by Moore’s Dolemite character (which he had been perfecting for years on the stand-up circuit), the backstory of how Moore came up with his Dolemite alter-ego and then got a movie made and seen by audiences was ripe for a Hollywood telling (think “Ed Wood” or “The Disaster Artist”).

And Murphy wanted Brewer to bring to the movie that root-for-the-underdog sensibility he had in “Hustle & Flow.”

“I think Eddie understood that I enjoy playing in a very human world of underdogs going after the American dream,” Brewer said. “I really had a specific idea about the tone of the movie and I didn’t want it to go into an area where you wouldn’t believe that Rudy is going after this dream.”

Craig Brewer Eddie Murphy Invision AP

(L-R) Craig Brewer and Eddie Murphy.
Invision/AP

Having the story grounded doesn’t hurt the laughs. Murphy is hilarious as Moore, who has to be part salesman part filmmaker to make the Dolemite character on the big screen become a reality. But part of the reason Murphy is getting so much praise is the direction by Brewer (and the script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski). The story pulls at the heart strings as we see Moore navigate his personal and professional highs and lows.

With “Dolemite Is My Name” sporting a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (the highest score ever for a Brewer movie) and with Brewer currently in production on “Coming 2 America,” the highly anticipated sequel to the Eddie Murphy classic “Coming to America,” the director is fully aware he’s riding a hot streak. And he can’t help but compare it to the underdog story of Rudy Ray Moore told in “Dolemite Is My Name.”

“I felt this project is similar to what I’ve been going through of having ups and downs,” he said. “To make this movie and now ‘Coming 2 America,’ it’s a dream come true.”

 

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About Author

Sammy Singh

Global VC, Founder, and entrepreneur extraordinaire as featured in Inc. Magazine, Bloomberg, and Forbes. Sammy Singh is a graduate of UCLA and Wharton School of Business as well as a former student of Loyola University of Chicago. Sammy is best known as a renowned financial technology global entrepreneur and has founded over 26 different firms across industry and all over the world. He is a venture capitalist,a TV/ Film actor, tax specialist, and marketing solutions strategist. Connect with Sammy Singh on social media below! www.linkedin.com/in/cfo www.instagram.com/champagnegqpapi www.facebook.com/officialsammysingh www.twitter.com/cxosynergy www.medium.com/@sammysingh www.crunchbase.com/sammysingh

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