Veteran comedy actor Eddie Murphy has been chosen to host the 84th Oscars ceremony in February next year.
Murphy is probably best known as maverick detective Axel Foley in the Beverly Hills Cop films of the 1980s, and is familiar to a new generation of movie-goers as the voice of Donkey in the animated Shrek movies.
But his rise to fame began with stand-up comedy and performances on Saturday Night Live and it’s for the skills honed in front of live audiences that he was chosen to present the most prestigious awards ceremony on the planet.
“Eddie is a comedic genius, one of the greatest and most influential live performers ever,” said Oscars telecast co-producer Brett Ratner.
“With his love of movies, history of crafting unforgettable characters and his iconic performances – especially on stage – I know he will bring excitement, spontaneity and tremendous heart to the show.”
Murphy said: “I am enormously honoured to join the great list of past Academy Award hosts from [Bob] Hope and [Johnny] Carson to [Billy] Crystal, [Steve] Martin and [Whoopi] Goldberg, among others.
“I’m looking forward to [helping to] create a show that is enjoyable for both the fans at home and for the audience at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.”
Murphy’s selection looks like a conscious decision by the Academy to return to the seasoned live performers of Oscars past. Last year’s hosts were actors Anne Hathaway and James Franco, the latter in particular criticised for his stilted delivery.
The 84th Academy Awards, celebrating the best films, actors and movie personnel of 2011, take place on 26 February 2012.