Eddie Murphy has not been on the big screen since 2012’s forgettable “1000 Words.” In “Mr. Church,” Murphy plays a character who as is as far from Axel Foley as can be imagined.

According to Coming Soon, Murphy plays a man with a mysterious past who is hired to cook for a woman named Marie, played by Natascha McElhone, and her daughter Charlie, played by Britt Robertson, while Marie deals with an illness. The relationship soon turns into something more than one with a cook when Church loans his employers’ books and comforts them when they are feeling down.

When a tragedy occurs, the relationship becomes much longer than six months. The movie is based on the memoirs of writer Susan McMartin and is set in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s.

Murphy, who is now in his 50s, says that he was attracted to the role because it was well written and that it was the opposite of what he usually plays. Murphy is best known for action comedy Movies such as the “Beverly Hills Cop” series and as the manic voice of “Donkey” in the “Shrek” films. To say that he is stretching himself as an actor would be to put the matter mildly.

Ironically, Murphy replaced Samuel L. Jackson, who had initially been cast in the title role of Henry Joseph Church.

Murphy has been on hiatus for the past four years, except for shooting a pilot based on his “Beverly Hills Cop” role that was eventually not been picked up. In a way playing a quiet role in a warm, family drama is meant to reintroduce himself to a new generation of filmgoers as a serious actor.

Of course, Murphy has not entirely given up playing in the sorts of movies that made him famous back in the 1980s. A biop of Murphy’s friend and mentor, the late Richard Pryor, is in preproduction in which Murphy plays Pryor’s terrifying father, LeRoy. And, inevitably, a fourth “Beverly Hills Cop” movie seems to be in the works. Of course, it has been a while since Murphy has played the smart-mouthed detective with the horse laugh and the unusual approach to law enforcement, but depending on the approach of what is slated to be the final film in the franchise, it might be enjoyable.

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