I rewatched Beverly Hills Cop ready for Netflix's Axel Foley and was shocked by a familiar face

Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F
(Image credit: Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix)

In preparation for Netflix's newest big upcoming film, Beverly Hills Cop 4: Axel F, I decided to re-watch the 1984 original to remind me of the character and tone of the classic.

Axel F comes out on Wednesday, July 4 of 2024, which is 40 years after the original and 30 years after the Eddie Murphy-starring trilogy wrapped with the maligned Beverly Hills Cop 3. The reboot has apparently itself seen decades of production hell and I'm interested to see what it's like

Beverly Hills Cop is available on Netflix in the US and UK, making it easy for my catch-up, and since I haven't seen it since I was young (the movie trilogy wrapped before I was born), I was interested in refreshing myself into this classic. 

I remembered some things, like Murphy's Axel Foley and his Beverly Hills allies, but there's one thing I definitely wasn't expecting — and it's the surprise appearance of a now-famous actor who wasn't as big back then.

The henchman of the baddie, whom Foley meets very early on in the movie during the murder of Foley's friend, is a man named Zack. Zack gets into various confrontations with Foley through the movie, including during the climactic shootout... and Zack is actually played by Jonathan Banks.

Jonathan Banks in Beverly Hills Cop

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Banks has been in movies for years, including Airplane! and another 1980s Eddie Murphy cop comedy 48 Hrs but I'd imagine that most people know him for the same role that I do: his beloved performance as Mike Erhmantraut in Breaking Bad, its spin-off movie El Camino and prequel series Better Call Saul

He's in over 75 episodes of those two and his grizzly Mike is one of the most beloved and memorable characters of both shows — it's what brought him to my attention as an actor. According to reports he was actually only meant to be in one episode of Breaking Bad, the season 2 finale, but his character was so popular that he eventually became a long-standing star.

As well as the Breaking Bad universe Banks has also been in the likes of Community and Constellation, but most of his recent TV roles are single-episode or voice roles and he's not been in many movies for a while.

It's quite odd seeing the growling and stoic Banks get thrown across a lavish buffet platter in Beverly Hills Cop, and then having to face down Foley with food on his face, but the tone of this comedy cop movie is very different to the drug-dealer drama!

Beverly Hills Cop also has another hidden star in the form of Damon Wayans, who plays a worker at a hotel's food court referred to in the credits as "Banana Man", but he only shows up briefly in one scene so he's no-where near as prominent as Banks. It's also clearly a comedy role while Zack is important to the plot.

It's always a fun game spotting iconic stars before they were big — my personal favorite, and another henchman role, is seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger as an uncredited goon working for the villain in The Long Goodbye, and there are loads more out there if you look hard enough.

Tom Bedford
Streaming and Ecommerce Writer

Tom is the streaming and ecommerce writer at What to Watch, covering streaming services in the US and UK. His goal is to help you navigate the busy and confusing online video market, to help you find the TV, movies and sports that you're looking for without having to spend too much money.