The 58-year-old comedy icon has been enjoying a brighter spotlight in recent months thanks to his portrayal of Rudy Ray Moore, the struggling comedian who fashioned an alter ego for himself as the cartoonishly obscene pimp king known as Dolemite. Murphy also made a triumphant return to Saturday Night Live in December and is setting his sights on a return to the stage with a stand-up comedy tour.
On Sunday, Murphy was feted by the Broadcast Film Critics Association during their Critics’ Choice Awards gala at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica. A montage of his screen career put the star in a reflective mood as he accepted the lifetime achievement trophy.
“To make your living making people laugh is the highest blessing on Earth,” Murphy said. He added:“I’ve played everything: a cop, a robber, a doctor, different ethnicities, animals. I’ve been a donkey. I’ve even played a spaceship once. When young actors come up to me on the street and say, ‘Do you have any advice?’, I say, ‘Never play a spaceship.’”
The donkey gig, of course, was for the Shrek franchise, a pivotal success for Dreamworks Animation. The spaceship role, on the other hand, was for the widely forgotten 2008 film Meet Dave. A few minutes after the standing ovation for Murphy’s lifetime achievement honor the comedy star was back on stage and wearing a satisfied smile after hearing Dolemite’s name called out in a key competitive category.
Dolemite claimed the prize for best comedy, topping a strong and eclectic field that also included Jojo Rabbit, Booksmart, The Farewell, and Knives Out. Ruth E. Carter took home the Netflix film’s second trophy of the night when her blaxploitation era recreations won in the best costume design category.