“New Jack City” Actress Revealed Why She Once Filed $75Million Lawsuit Against Eddie Murphy
Michael Michele, the actress widely known for her role in New Jack City, once made some strong claims against Eddie Murphy and she backed up her claims with a whopping $75 million lawsuit against him. It all went down in 1989, after Michele claims Eddie made sexual advances toward her, during the filming for the Murphy written/directed “Harlem Nights” film, in which she was originally casted for the role of ‘Dominique LaRue’…before Jasmine Guy got it. See what both, Eddie Murphy and Michele said about this below….
Michele’s Harassment Allegations Against Murphy
Murphy originally chose Michael Michele for the “Harlem Nights” film, but she says she barely lasted two days one filming began, due to Murphy’s alleged flirtatious advances. She spoke with People Magazine, at that time, and gave her side of the story.
Via People: After signing a [Harlem Nights] contract for $27,500, Michele showed up for rehearsal at the Paramount lot. At first Murphy was cordial, says Michele, but by the second day, his attitude shifted. “I was sitting reading my script. Eddie taps me on my shoulder and says, ‘Bravo. You deserve an award for not even looking at me, Michael. Good. Real good.’ ” Michele says she laughed. “I wasn’t being unfriendly. I admired him.”
Through the rest of the run-through, she says, “he yells, ‘Speak up! Speak up! I can’t hear you!’—angrily.” Yet at the next rehearsal, April 7, Michele says Murphy “asked me out.” When he then tried to “fondle and caress” her, “I said no. He stormed off.” She soon heard that Murphy was boasting he’d fired her—a claim Paramount confirmed.
Her Rejection Of Severance Pay After Getting Fired
After being fired from Harlem Nights, it was reported that Michele was offered a healthy severance pay, but that she turned it down, even though many people around her thought she was crazy for doing so. Michele explained why she didn’t except the money:
Via People: Michele forfeited that pay by refusing to free Paramount of responsibility and [chose] to go up against the full weight of the Murphy marquee. She slapped him with a $75 million sexual harassment and breach of contract suit, alleging that his “attempt to attain a personal, sexual relationship” led to her firing and caused her “severe emotional and psychological damage.”
Eddie’s Shoots Down Michele’s Claims
Via People: Murphy…has called Michele’s charges “absurd and totally false. My integrity and professionalism are being attacked.” His [then] manager, Robert Wachs, [threatened] a counter-suit. “Women throw themselves at him,” says Wachs. “Why would he need to do this? Eddie felt her attitude was antagonistic. She did not fit into this movie’s healthy environment.”
Michele On Whether Or Not She Lied
After Murphy shot down her allegations, Michele responded with this:
“It’s the God’s honest truth and when the ball hits the fence, it’s my word against his. If he’s lying about it now, I guess he’ll have to lie about it in court too,” says Michele – viaPeople
Michael Michele On Why She Spoke Out About Lawsuit
At the time of her interview (in 1990), Michael Michele was asked why she chose to keep going with her lawsuit:
“Everyone thinks I should allow this to happen because it’s Eddie Murphy,” she says. “But if keeping a job means lowering yourself to the casting couch, then we’re in a bad place. And if having integrity, ethics and morals means never being able to work in the entertainment industry,” she adds, “then maybe I did choose the wrong profession.” -Michael Michele, via People
Where Michele Ended Up After Settlement
After Eddie fired Michele, she went to work at the Gap clothing store to make ends meet until she got the role on “New Jack City.” She and Eddie Murphy eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money, but it was probably a pretty penny she got paid because she made it clear that she was going for Eddie’s jugular with this lawsuit.