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Sylvester Stallone's Version Of Beverly Hills Cop Was A Lot Heavier In Tone

Movie history is full of tantalizing what-if and what-could-have-been scenarios that can boggle the mind. One of the most interesting, due to how different it is from the finished product we all know and love, is the prospect of Sylvester Stallone leading the cast of "Beverly Hills Cop" instead of Eddie Murphy.

If you're familiar with Murphy's starring turn as displaced Detroit police detective Axel Foley in 1984's "Beverly Hills Cop," you already know that it is a largely comedic performance that gives Murphy ample opportunity to improvise. Stallone, on the other hand, has never really been known for his comedic chops, so it makes sense that, according to the actor himself, his version of the movie would have been a lot more serious in tone.

The insights come from an interview Stallone did with The Washington Post in which he went over the highs and lows of his long career as a movie star. "I had rewritten the script in a heavier thriller tone — which worked for me," Stallone remembered. He added that he was happy to see the film become a mega-blockbuster franchise with Murphy in the leading role because it might not have done the same with him as Foley.

Stallone said that the movie 'may have been a total disaster for me'

Sylvester Stallone got to make his own "heavier thriller" cop movie with "Cobra" in 1986, which gives us a hint as to what his version "Beverly Hills Cop" might have been like. As he says, a Stallone-starring "Beverly Hills Cop" would be a much more straight-ahead action thriller, possibly closer in tone to something like the original "Lethal Weapon," another '80s cop movie franchise, and one that evolved sharply into broader comedy as it went along. 

As to why he didn't end up playing Axel Foley, Stallone said his persona just wasn't quite right for the role. "To play that character, you needed someone who is vulnerable," he said. "You have to believe that you could throw him through a window and that he wouldn't come back and raise havoc. It would have been a little hard for people who have seen me as Rambo to buy that. So I thought for all intents and purposes it would hurt the film if I did it."

It would be silly to think that a guy with a career like Stallone's would lose sleep over letting "Beverly Hills Cop" get away, and the actor doesn't seem to have done so. "And I have no regrets," Stallone said. "Because here it is making $200 million with Eddie Murphy. And it may have been a total disaster for me."

A world without Eddie Murphy's Axel Foley, in "Beverly Hills Cop" as well as its sequels, isn't one most fans would want to live in. But it would be interesting to visit the one where he's played by Stallone instead.