Eddie Murphy insists his messy divorce from ex-wife NICOLE provided him with the emotional intensity to stun his DREAMGIRLS co-stars with his performance as JAMES 'THUNDER' EARLY. The Trading Places funnyman has been praised by Jamie Foxx for his uncanny ability to switch from "this quiet, docile thing" into his intimidating alter-ego. And Murphy credits his inner turmoil with making his performance so believable. He says, "It was real emotional. It was really good because I had all that going on and that's going on under your skin; you get on the set and when you're acting... (It took) me to a different place emotionally." Murphy's divorce from his ex-wife NICOLE became final in April (06) and he is now dating former SPICE GIRL Melanie Brown. The Shrek star has five children with Nicole, a son with TAMARA HOOD and another son with PAULETTE MCNEELY.