He’s played cops, pet doctors, a talking animated donkey and a “Nutty Professor,” but Eddie Murphy has just lined up his highest profile role to date – host of the 2012 Oscars.
On Tuesday, the Academy confirmed to Access Hollywood that the actor would be pulling hosting duty at the Oscars during the February 26, 2012 ceremony.
“I am enormously honored to join the great list of past Academy Award hosts, from Hope and Carson to Crystal, Martin and Goldberg, among others,” Murphy said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to working with Brett and Don on creating a show that is enjoyable for both the fans at home and for the audience at the Kodak Theatre, as we all come together to celebrate and recognize the great film contributions and collaborations from the past year.”
Murphy’s new gig pairs him up with the director of his upcoming comedy, “Tower Heist” – Brett Ratner, who is also directing this year’s awards show.
“Eddie is a comedic genius, one of the greatest and most influential live performers ever,” Ratner said in a statement. “With his love of movies, history of crafting unforgettable characters and his iconic performances – especially on stage – I know he will bring excitement, spontaneity and tremendous heart to the show Don and I want to produce in February.”
Entertainment Weekly Senior Writer Dave Karger told Access Hollywood on Tuesday that combo could add up to a power collaboration.
“He and Brett Ratner know each other so well… They seem to like each other a lot, so I think it’ll be a good team,” Karger said.
Karger noted that the choice of Murphy as Oscar host falls in line with Ratner’s plans to spice up the awards show.
“He said he wanted to make the Oscars funny. No better choice than Eddie Murphy to make them funny,” Karger noted.
James Franco and Anne Hathaway were panned for their collaborative hosting gig at last year’s ceremony, but the “Saturday Night Live” veteran is known for making fans laugh with his comedic chops, both outrageous and kid-friendly.
Karger said Murphy will have to straddle a line somewhere between the two to make his night as Oscars host a success.
“It’s tough because he can’t be the [comedy special] ‘Delirious’ and ‘Raw’ Eddie Murphy, because then there will be too many bleeps,” Karger told Access. “But he can’t be ‘Daddy Day Care,’ and ‘Dr. Doolittle’ Eddie Murphy either because that’s too safe. He has to find a middle ground.”
Murphy has some experience behind the podium. He previously hosted the MTV Video Music Awards in 1985 after his success with “Beverly Hills Cop” and “48 Hours.” He also handed out trophies at the MTV Movie Awards in 1993.
Unlike those shows, however, the Oscars has a worldwide audience, and a tough crowd.
“This is one of the most thankless jobs in Hollywood,” Karger said. “People always get trashed, but I’m excited to see him really rise to the occasion, hopefully.”
The Oscars air February 26 on ABC.