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Look out for more coverage of
I-Spy in our magazines

THE MOVIE: I-Spy

THE STARS:
Eddie Murphy • Owen Wilson
DIRECTOR: Betty Thomas

Foe meets hero THE CONCEPT:
Loosely based on the popular 1960s TV series, Eddie Murphy portrays Kelly Robinson, a famous boxer, who is lured into the spy world in order to help, Alex Scott [Owen Wilson], crack a case.

U.S. RELEASE: November 1 2002, Nationwide
• Rated: PG-13

THE COMMENTS:

BETTY THOMAS on the fact that the original stars of the TV series, Robert Culp and Bill Cosby, were not asked to do cameos:
“It wouldn’t have been right in this. I felt it would be demeaning to them. They’re who they are, and what they did was very specific to them, just like these people made this movie – Eddie and Owen. It’s a different I-Spy, and I wouldn’t want them in any way to feel like they were being used.”

OWEN WILSON on not meeting with Murphy before filming began:
“I find that it’s kind of awkward. I find it’s better just to show up and at least you’ve got something to talk about. Then you get some common experiences going. But I was kind of nervous the first couple of days being around Eddie. I grew up seeing his movies. It was a big deal for me when I was a kid. But we got along really well.”

EDDIE MURPHY on doing his own stunts in the film:
“[I wanted to] because I was always looking for comic moments for myself and Owen that would also serve as a way of developing our relationship.”

BETTY THOMAS:
“I don’t think of Owen as a second banana. I see this as one of the few movies ever to have two first bananas in it. I think what Owen does is he listens to the other person and finds a way to fit his humor into it. He loves to manipulate people and, in the scenes, that’s really part of what he wanted to make sure was in – it’s a spy sort of thing. So it was great fun for him to be the character that was going to be the manipulator.”

OWEN WILSON:
“I don’t think I manipulate. I mean, sometimes you like to liven things up a little bit or keep yourself entertained. Maybe what she would describe as manipulation, I would describe as just goofing around having fun.”

BETTY THOMAS:
“At one point the role that was offered to Eddie was the role that was played by Bill Cosby, of course. And Eddie said, ‘No, that’s not interesting at all. The other role’s the role I want to play. But don’t make it a tennis player, I can’t play tennis at all - if you make him a boxer, I could do this role.’ That’s the kind of thing that he does. He sees his humor in one way. He was thrilled to play a boxer.”

EDDIE MURPHY:
“I’ve done some boxing and my father was a boxer, so I already had a background in the sport.”

BETTY THOMAS:
“I kept going, ‘Eddie, your boxing scene is coming up, it’s five weeks, four weeks, three weeks away – I haven’t seen you do anything!’ He wouldn’t take a trainer with him, he had his own gym there the whole time, but he wouldn’t allow anybody to work with him on that. He knew every exercise to do, and he came on the set and said, ‘Okay, show me the moves,’ and he’d do them. That’s him throughout the whole boxing sequence.”

OWEN WILSON comparing Murphy with working with Jackie Chan:
“Obviously, Eddie is really verbal and really good at coming up with stuff. With Jackie, he’s looking for ideas or for help from the director and me, in the same way I would look to him in the action stuff for ways to do things. He doesn’t quite understand the language or exactly what the joke is!”

BETTY THOMAS:
“The I-Spy that existed when it did on television could not exist today. But this I-Spy, in my own heart is not meaningless. It is about I’m you and you’re me. I think that’s the most important idea in the movie, and the most important idea in the world today that I could think of. Harold Ramis once said to me, ‘Comedy movies – the only way to get through them is to have that one moment that you really think is true that you get to put out in the world, and then just make it funny.’”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © Columbia Pictures
Feature © 2002 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #624, November 2002 cover

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