Eddie Murphy didn’t return to Saturday Night Live for the “SNL 40” anniversary back in February. In an interview with the Washington Post published Tuesday, the comedian explains that it was because he didn’t want to play Bill Cosby for the special.
Murphy explains that he thought the Cosby sketch that he was asked to do was funny, but that the timing was more than a little off. “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,” he says. “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.'”
As a result, all he did at the “SNL 40” special was thank the crowd.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Cosby thanked Murphy publicly for not participating in the sketch. Norm MacDonald, who wrote the sketch, also commended him for sticking to his principles (“He will not kick a man when he is down. Eddie Murphy, I realize, is not like the rest of us. Eddie does not need the laughs”). It’s also commendable that Murphy wouldn’t play Cosby out of concern for the comedian’s accusers, so, classy move all around.