Eddie Murphy is in talks to star opposite Ben Stiller in Universal's "Tower Heist," the Oscar-nominated actor's publicist has confirmed to TheWrap.
Murphy had long been rumored to be associated with the project, back when it was known as "Trump Heist" and featured a mostly African American cast pulling an "Ocean's 11"-style caper on the Trump Tower's namesake, Donald Trump.
Plans for the film have been revised over the years by some of Hollywood's top screenwriters, and the movie now concerns some low-level employees at a luxury Manhattan high-rise who band together to even the score with a Bernie Madoff-like Wall Street capitalist who looted their pensions and is now living under house arrest in a lavish penthouse apartment.
Murphy is reportedly playing a safe-cracking thug who may or may not betray Stiller and his gang.
Since coming thisclose to winning his first Oscar for his eye-opening performance in "Dreamgirls," Murphy has been stuck in a reel rut. Aside from the profitable but increasingly mediocre "Shrek" films, Murphy has starred in "Norbit," "Meet Dave" and "Imagine That," a trio that doesn't exactly rival his brilliant earlier work in films such as "Beverly Hills Cop," "48 Hours" and "Trading Places."
While Murphy is still leading man material, I think it's a good thing that the pressure here will be on Stiller to deliver a four-quadrant hit. One thing is certain — it will definitely be fun to see those two team up on the big screen.
Brett Ratner directs from a script that his "Rush Hour" collaborator Jeff Nathanson is currently rewriting, with Ted Griffin ("Ocean's 11") having written the last draft.
Imagine's Brian Grazer will produce, while Murphy will exec produce with Karen Kehela Sherwood and Kim Roth.
Murphy next stars in Brian Robbins' dramedy "A Thousand Words."
The gifted comedian is represented by WME and his casting was first reported by Deadline.