Eddie Murphy took on a new challenge for his role in "A Thousand Words," as his character was forced to choose his words wisely and the actor had to depend on physical comedy for much of the film.
"A Thousand Words" follows the literary agent Jack McCall, who after exaggerating the terms of a book deal with a spiritual guru, finds himself strangely linked to a Bodhi tree on his property. It has 1,000 leaves and one falls every time McCall utters a word. He is doomed to die if the tree is stripped bare and must learn to communicate without speaking in order to survive.
"I've never done a movie where I wasn't allowed to talk in order to be funny," Murphy said in an interview provided by the film's studio, Lionsgate. "Talking is such a big part of me being funny, it was like having my hands tied behind my back - try to be funny without, you know, that was a challenge."
The film also stars Kerry Washington as McCall's wife, Cliff Curtis as the guru Dr. Sinja and Clark Duke as McCall's assistant.
"The story is a fast-talking literary agent who's used to using his mouth to get him out of any problem, he can talk anyone into anything and he can't shut up," Murphy said.
"When all the leaves fall off a tree, the tree gets sick and dies and that's what's happening with me," he added. "It's like this tree represents how many words I have left to say and I get sicker as the tree gets weaker. The tree is the ticking clock in our story... I'm connected to the tree completely, so if a squirrel's running up the tree, I can feel that, I try to chop the tree down once and get a big rip in my side."
The 50-year-old actor noted that his character was forced to limit his words at a point in his life when he (and his wife) really needed them.
"We're getting a new house, we had a kid and we're going to this new place," Murphy said. "We're at a place in our life where she wants a bunch of answers and we're going through this new phase in our life and me not being able to talk is coming at the absolute worst time it could possibly have."
When asked how he would fare in the theoretical situation, Murphy was quick to say, "I would do the obvious, I'd spend the thousand words on your loved ones and just let your loved ones know how much you love them. That's what I would do."
Murphy recently made headlines after becoming the victim of a death hoax. The actor's rep said that his client was "very much alive" and not snowboarding in Switzerland, as the hoax claimed.
In September, it was announced that Murphy would host the 84th annual Academy Awards, but he dropped out in November and was subsequently replaced by Billy Crystal. It will be Crystal's ninth time as host of the ceremony, which is set to air live on Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 7 p.m. ET on ABC, OnTheRedCarpet.com's parent company.
Murphy received an Oscar nomination in 2006 for his role in "Dreamgirls." He's known for his roles in the "Shrek" films, "Dr. Doolittle," "Coming to America" and the "Beverly Hills Cop" franchise. Murphy is also known for his comedy specials "Raw" and "Delirious" and first rose to fame as a cast member on "Saturday Night Live" from 1980 to 1984.
"A Thousand Words" was released on Friday, March 9. Watch a trailer below.