It looks like Inspector Closeau will be the next classic character to undergo a race-swap, as a new report suggests that veteran comedian Eddie Murphy is in talks to play the bumbling Inspector Clouseau in MGM’s upcoming reboot of their classic The Pink Panther franchise.
The Dolemite Is My Name star’s alleged involvement was first reported on May 17th, courtesy of an exclusive from The Hollywood Reporter.
Per the news outlet, should he accept, Murphy’s performance as the French lawman would be written by Bad Boys For Life screenplay scribe Chris Bremner and directed by the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog trilogy’s Jeff Fowler.
Additionally, the film will be produced by Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich (Netflix’s Death Note, Godzilla vs. Kong) through their production company Rideback, as well as Larry Mirisch (Amazon’s upcoming The Magnificent Seven series) and The Sound of Music star Julie Andrews (whose late husband Blake Edwards was instrumental in the creation of the entire The Pink Panther franchise).
According to THR’s sources, MGM’s proposed The Pink Panther project will utilize a combination of both live-action film and CG animation to see the real-world Inspector Clouseau team-up with the franchise’s iconic feline mascot for the first time.
Conceived by the aforementioned Edwards in the early 60s, The Pink Panther franchise centers not on its anthropomorphic cartoon mascot – who actually makes his only cinematic appearances in the animated and highly stylized opening and closing title sequences of each respective film – but rather one Jacques Clouseau, an Inspector under the employ of the French Sûreté and who was typically portrayed by Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb star Peter Sellers.
With the 1963 film of the same name, MGM not only introduced the world to Clouseau, but also the titular Pink Panther diamond, a tremendously valuable rose-colored gemstone which takes its name from a panther-shaped imperfection at its center and served as the central MacGuffin to four of the Inspector’s original eleven adventures.
However, thanks to a waning interest in Inspector Clouseau after the premiere of the critically panned Son of the Pink Panther in 1993, the Edwards-led era of the franchise came to an end.
Proceeding to lay dormant for roughly thirteen years, the trio of Clouseau, the jewel, and the animated mascot would make their return to the silver screen with 2006’s The Pink Panther.
Starring Steve Martin as the clumsy constable, this franchise reboot would garner a single sequel in 2009’s aptly named The Pink Pather 2 before seeing the property shelved once again.
Interestingly, should Murphy sign on for Fowler and Bremner’s new The Pink Panther, it would mark the third time the actor led a race-swapped reboot of an original property.
Previously, Murphy starred as both Professor Sherman in the 1996 version of The Nutty Professor – a role originally portrayed by Jerry Lewis in the 1963 original – and as the titular veterinarian in Fox’s 1998 take on Dr. Dolittle.
As of writing, The Pink Panther reboot has yet to confirm either Murphy’s involvement or any sort of official release schedule.