Certain movie roles can not be separated from the actors who played them. Harrison Ford IS Indiana Jones. Robert Downey Jr. IS Tony Stark. And Eddie Murphy is wise-cracking Detroit detective Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop (and its two sequels). Only, before Murphy signed on the dotted line to play his most famous comedic character, the role was offered to Sylvester Stallone, and he accepted... then sabotaged his own chances at making the movie work.
The story behind Sylvester Stallone's failed Beverly Hills Cop assignment comes out of a new book titled Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency, which has been covered by THR. The trade breaks out five of the best behind-the-scenes film stories, and talks about the time CAA agent Ron Meyer pitched the comedy to Sylvester Stallone. Only, the actor wanted to change the direction of the film, explaining:
Stallone: Ron [Meyer] told me, 'Don't change it,' but I took the script and rewrote it as a kind of a compromise, where the guy was action-oriented but he also had a wry sense of humor.
Meyer: Nobody wanted his version, so I begged him, 'Please, do the original script.'
Stallone: I didn't think I could pull it off. Then that ship sailed.
And it sailed with Eddie Murphy in the lead, leading to what would become the biggest role of the comedian's life. Released in 1984, Beverly Hills Cop took the world by storm, earning $234 million at the domestic box office, which was good enough for the No. 1 slot of the year that year. To put that into perspective, Beverly Hills Cop earned more money that Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Gremlins and The Karate Kid that year. All huge movies, and they lost out to Eddie Murphy and Cop. Would Cop have been as successful with Stallone in the role? Probably not. It would have been VERY different, so there's no telling HOW audiences would have responded. It's pretty tough to top this.
What was Sylvester Stallone up to at this point? Naturally, he was still riding high off of the Rocky series, and he had introduced the world to John Rambo in 1982's First Blood. He put out the stinker Rhinestone in 1984 (opposite country legend Dolly Parton), but it didn't slow down his momentum. This seems to be a case of a win-win for both parties. Stallone didn't need Beverly Hills Cop, and Cop didn't need Stallone. But it's a fun and interesting story looking at what might have been... and what never would be.