Inside Eddie Murphy's 'Strong Bond' with His 10 Kids and Fun Time Making “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F”

Returning to play Axel Foley in the fourth ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ movie, Murphy’s “joy” remains having “friends and family around him,” sources tell PEOPLE

<p>Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty</p> Eddie Murphy in 2023

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

Eddie Murphy in 2023

Despite the fact that four decades have passed since Eddie Murphy filmed the first Beverly Hills Cop, the famed actor didn’t miss a step in reprising his role as Axel Foley.

“It was a hard one,” the 63-year-old superstar told PEOPLE of filming Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F (streaming July 3 on Netflix). “I did Axel Foley when I was in my 20s. I am not in my 20s anymore.”

The fourth installment in the action-packed Beverly Hills Cop franchise, directed by Mark Molloy and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, sees the return of Murphy as the street-wise Detroit cop pursuing justice in Los Angeles. Joining him onscreen are cast members from the 1984 original, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Paul Reiser and Bronson Pinchot, plus newcomers including Kevin Bacon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Taylour Paige.

Related: Eddie Murphy Reveals His Ideal Day as Dad of 10 Kids: ‘You Need a Little Space’

The first thing Murphy said to Reinhold and Ashton was, "Well, at least we still resemble our characters," Reinhold, 67, recalled to PEOPLE. “Which I thought was a great opening line.”

<p>Courtesy of Netflix</p> Eddie Murphy in 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F'

Courtesy of Netflix

Eddie Murphy in 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F'

The three actors’ reunion took place two blocks away from a key scene in the original Beverly Hills Cop, added Reinhold. “It was like a band you get together and say, ‘Damn. This is still good.’ It was kind of effortless, and there was a very strong chemistry between the three of us. We felt like we had a lot of juice left, like definitely, it's not time for Grumpy Old Beverly Hills Cops yet.”

And Murphy was at the top of his game back in the renegade cop’s shoes, according to Reinhold. “It was really, really so fun to watch him play Axel again. That was my favorite spot in this movie… He really doesn't disappoint.”

The Dreamgirls Oscar nominee, a father of 10, “can be shy and quiet,” shared Reinhold. But as “a family guy at heart,” Murphy opened up upon meeting Reinhold’s daughter Haley Rose, who he shares with wife Amy. “Eddie was thrilled to see that for us and was really, really sweet. I saw his love for kids in that. He's crazy about his kids and his family.”

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A photographer who has worked with Murphy similarly told PEOPLE that the Trading Places star “was super enthusiastic and constantly made everyone laugh” on the Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F set. But his life chiefly revolves around family, including Paige Butcher, his fiancée since 2018 who shares daughter Izzy Oona Murphy and son Max Charles with him. (Murphy also shares his eldest kid with ex-girlfriend Paulette McNeely; five children with Nicole Mitchell, to whom he was married from 1993 to 2006; and a daughter with Melanie Brown, better known as Mel B from the Spice Girls.)

The “great dad,” said the source, “has a strong bond with his children... Over the years, he prioritized spending time with them despite a busy career. He lives a pretty quiet life in Los Angeles. He has a few favorite restaurants and enjoys attending Lakers games with his family. He's very much a homebody though."

Related: Eddie Murphy Recalls Meeting a 13-Year-Old Tracee Ellis Ross at One of Diana Ross' Parties (Exclusive)

In 2021, Murphy talked about how prioritizing family meant “the whole idea of being out there and doing three movies a year” is “over” for him. “I love fatherhood,” he said on Marc Maron's WTF podcast. "I am so blessed with my kids… My kids are so great, normal people — and nobody is like the Hollywood jerk kid."

<p>John Sciulli/Getty</p> (Left-right:) Bria Murphy, Shayne Audra Murphy, Paige Butcher, Eddie Murphy and Bella Murphy at the 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F' world premiere June 20

John Sciulli/Getty

(Left-right:) Bria Murphy, Shayne Audra Murphy, Paige Butcher, Eddie Murphy and Bella Murphy at the 'Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F' world premiere June 20

As he told Kelly Clarkson on her talk show on June 27, he only agreed to do Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F once he was certain it would be worth it. “I just wanted everything to be right,” he said. “I’m not doing anymore movies unless everything is right, especially something like Beverly Hills Cop. Because this movie kind of started that genre, the action-comedy.”

For Bruckheimer, 80, Murphy “gets better” as the years go by. “He's funnier, and he's on top of his game, as he always is. He's a very committed artist.”

In “every scene” of Axel F, the producer told PEOPLE, “he injects something that's brilliant. He's somebody you die to work with. It's unfortunate it took this long to get him back — but that's our fault, not his!”

Murphy has also recently appeared in the comedy films Candy Cane Lane and You People, and reportedly has Shrek 5 and an adaptation of The Pink Panther in the works.

Related: Eddie Murphy Has 'Started' Work on Shrek 5 — and Says Donkey Is Also 'Gonna Have His Own Movie'

The superstar comedian will continue to balance such projects with his thriving home life — as he did when he had the support of Butcher, 44, as well as daughters Bria, 34, Shayne Audra, 29, and Bella, 22, at the world premiere of the newest Beverly Hills Cop on June 20. (Bria and her husband, Michael Xavier, also made Axel F a family affair, appearing in the film as cops who arrest Axel!)

“That's his joy, to have his friends and his family around him,” Reinhold told PEOPLE. “That's where he's at. That's what he really likes.”

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