Director Axel F has figured out that there’s one thing you should never do with Eddie Murphy [Exclusive Interview]

This is your first feature film, but you’ve been directing commercials and stuff like that for over 20 years now. So when you got the first call from Jerry Bruckheimer saying he wanted to work with you, did he tell you if there was a specific commercial or work that he’d seen that put you on his radar?

He didn’t mention anything on the first call we had. He didn’t mention anything specific. But since then, he told me there was a lot of work, a lot of Apple work that I’ve done, and I’ve done a kind of series of short films for Apple, he’d seen them among other things. I don’t know what Jerry got. [attention]but I’m glad my work caught your attention.

I was curious to know if you had to get special approval from Eddie Murphy or if Jerry’s approval was enough to convince everyone that you were the right person for this project?

No, no, I had to get Eddie’s approval. I had to get Eddie’s approval, I had to get Netflix’s approval, I had to get everyone’s approval. So it was quite a journey. But yeah, Jerry and I went to Eddie’s house and I just pitched him my opinion on the movie and yeah, thankfully, Eddie agreed and liked it, and here we are.

What worried him most when it came to reprising that role all these years later?

The first thing he said to me was that it’s the most important character he’s ever played. It meant a lot to him, and I could really feel that. The main thing he wanted to make sure was that I understood the tone of the movies and the balance of action and comedy. I know that was really important to him. And also, I talked to him a lot about how we get to see different sides of his character, the evolution of the character, and Axel as a father, and Axel being vulnerable. I said, “We’ve never seen Axel Foley being vulnerable.” And that really excited me, and we talked about it. But Eddie also had such a keen sense of the character in his head, not just who Axel Foley was, but that evolution of the character.

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