Following the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special back in February, former SNL cast member Norm Macdonald revealed over the course of several, now-deleted tweets that Eddie Murphy was asked to appear as Bill Cosby during the show.
Murphy’s impression would have occurred during “Celebrity Jeopardy,” but Macdonald said Murphy turned down the chance to slam Cosby. “Eddie decides the laughs are not worth it. He will not kick a man when he is down,” Macdonald wrote. (Kenan Thompson wound up playing Cosby in the sketch instead.)
Speaking about the incident for the first time in an interview with The Washington Post, Murphy said while the sketch Macdonald wrote was “hysterical,” he didn’t think it was appropriate to mock Cosby for the dozens of sexual assault allegations levied against the 78-year-old.
“It’s horrible,” Murphy said. “There’s nothing funny about it. If you get up there and you crack jokes about him, you’re just hurting people. You’re hurting him. You’re hurting his accusers. I was like, ‘Hey, I’m coming back to SNL for the anniversary, I’m not turning my moment on the show into this other thing.’”
After news broke that Murphy declined to participate in the sketch, Cosby himself released a statement praising Murphy for his decision. “I am very appreciative of Eddie and I applaud his actions,” Cosby said in a statement released by his spokesperson.
Murphy famously slammed Cosby in his 1987 stand-up film Raw, after Cosby said that the younger comic’s act relied too heavily on foul language.