How Will Beall Cracked the ‘Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F’ Script After 20 Year Development Hell

After going through at least a half dozen big-name script writers and languishing in development hell for more than two decades, Will Beall finally cracked the story that would become “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F,” which Netflix released worldwide last week.

Beall’s connection to the franchise runs deep. He fondly recalls seeing the original 1984 film when he was 12, describing it as “one of those experiences at the movie theaters I’ve never forgotten. I went to see the movie with my granddad and walked out of it feeling like I’ve been to a party with the whole audience.”

“I feel like there’s a very limited number of perfect movies were not a single thing I would change about them and the original ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ is certainly one of them,” Beall said. “So I’m coming to it first as a huge fan of the original and I think that’s the part of it. Axel is a truly iconic character, one of not too many that are still left kicking around in American cinema.”

The key, according to Beall, was balancing respect for the franchise and the legacy characters with the need to meet and subvert audience expectations. He explained, “You have to come to this thing with respect for the franchise and the characters and respect for the fans.”

Beall emphasized the importance of including certain “compulsories” – elements fans expect to see – while finding ways to surprise viewers. “There are certain compulsories right, like figure skating, there’s a Double Axel, there’s certain things you have to have and certain things that the audience expects and demands,” Beall said.

“The trick is to figure out a way to fulfill their expectations, and also some places to subvert them. So that was sort of the assignment,” Beall added.

Beall cited recent legacy sequels like 2018’s “Halloween” and “Top Gun: Maverick” as examples of how to successfully revive a beloved property.

“I think the 2018 ‘Halloween’ is a shining example of how to deliver a legacy sequel and then I feel like ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is the best film to come out in 20 years,” Beall added.

Beverly Hills Cop Axel F

He also stressed the necessity of including legacy characters like Judge Reinhold’s Rosewood and John Ashton’s Taggart, revealing that “there was no way Eddie, Jerry, no one had any interest in making this movie without Rosewood and Taggart.”

“The fact that you find them, finally the three of them in the car framed, Mark Molloy does a fantastic job of framing it exactly as Martin Breast 40 years ago, is like one of the great pleasures of the movies to see those guys back together again,” Beall said.

Beall described the daunting task of pitching ideas to Eddie Murphy himself, calling it “Probably the most intimidating… moment of my professional life.” Murphy encouraged Beall to focus on writing a “real cop story” rather than trying to craft specific jokes for the star.

“He was great and encouraging and supportive and one of the first things that he said was, ‘Hey, man, just write me a cool cop story,” Beall said. “You don’t need to write jokes for me, you don’t need to make don’t make a goofy, write me of a real cool cop story.”

Beverly Hills Cop Axel F

Beall also spoke highly of his collaboration with legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who has been a driving force behind the “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Bad Boys” and “Top Gun” franchises. “Jerry loves movies. He loves to make movies,” Beall said.

“All of these legacy sequels, there’s sort of a question that hangs over, not just the story, but the project,” Beall added. “Is Maverick still relevant today? Can Maverick still do it? Does Maverick still matter? Does he belong in the Navy? And the movie answers that question.”

“Axel F is the same way. Axel is kind of an analog cop. Can he hack it in the digital world? He’s a 60 year old guy, can he still be Axel Foley and save the day?” Beall said.

“Jerry’s the living answer to that question,” Beall concluded. “Jerry is more relevant now than he’s ever been, in my opinion. He’s one of the people that’s keeping the theatrical experience alive and making super entertaining movies for a broad audience.”

In his review of the film, The Wrap’s William Bibbiani wrote, “Murphy’s natural charm has anchored this series for decades, but his performance as Axel Foley has always been mutating. In the first film he was an affable trickster, in the second he cranked down the humor to match Tony Scott’s intensity, and in the third he just kinda stood there saying his lines. Murphy once again seems fully engaged, thank goodness, and he does his level best to shine through this material.”

“Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F” is streaming now on Netflix.

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