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Eddie Murphy recalls studio demanding white actor in ‘Coming to America’

By Stephanie Toone, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Troy Warren for Hometown Hall #picks-all #reviews-all


 

Murphy and Arsenio Hall revealed little-known casting fact in interview on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’.

Longtime friends Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hal appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to promote their new sequel “Coming 2 America,” which will be released Friday. During the candid interview, the comics reminisced about a casting decision that was based on race for “Coming to America.”

The actors were featured on the late-night talk show to discuss the Amazon Prime premiere of the highly anticipated sequel to their 1988 blockbuster comedy. The chat, which was filmed from remote locations for Kimmel, Hall and Murphy, turned into a bit of a reunion. The friends chatted about the last time they saw each other, which was just a few weeks before California and the rest of the country began quarantining in spring 2020.

The 15-minute interview also covered Murphy’s near obsession, according to Hall, with musical artist MonoNeon.

About halfway through the discussion, Hall and Murphy revealed some of the unusual requirements Paramount required for the breakout hit film.

A casting requirement came to light after Kimmel asked how comedian and “Coming to America” costar Louie Anderson became a part of the film. Both actors said Anderson’s appearance was a result of Paramount, the studio behind the movie, demanding that a white actor be cast in the virtually all-Black cast.

“I love Louie, but I think we were forced to put Louie in it,” Hall said. “No, I think we were forced to put a white person.”

Murphy went on to explain that in the 1980s it was unheard of for a major film to have a cast without a white featured actor. They were given the option of a few white comedic actors, Hall recalled.

“Yeah, Paramount was like … because the whole cast was Black and this was back in the ’80s, so it was like ‘We have to have a white person; there has to be a white person in the movie!’” Murphy said. “[We were like] ‘What?’ So, who is the funniest white guy around right now? And then Louie, we knew him and was cool with him, so that’s how Louie got in the movie.”

Despite the reason Anderson was cast, Murphy and Hall agreed he brought more humor to the classic movie. Paramount eventually sold the film to Amazon Studios for about $125 million, according to reports.

Once the casting secret was released, fans had a mixed reaction to the news on Twitter, with some saying they loved Anderson and others saying the casting was a bad call.