Press Conference: Eddie Murphy Talks ‘Coming 2 America’ And The Legacy Of The Franchise
The highly anticipated sequel to the classic comedy Coming to America is almost here.
Leading up to the release, I had the chance to attend a virtual press conference with some of the cast and crew. During the press conference, Eddie Murphy spoke about his choice to do a sequel and I learned about some of the new cast members and what they’re bringing to the story.
Check out the highlights below:
Murphy first spoke about what it took to make a sequel and the development process behind it.
Murphy: Well, it was maybe about three drafts of the script in when we got it to where the structure and the narrative thread was strong enough for me to say, “OK, we have a movie here. Now we just have to bring a young writer in and put that modern spin on it. Enter Kenya Barris. We wanted to bring everybody back from the original. It was like we have to start from where the story left off. The last time you saw the Eriq La Salle character (Darryl) and the Lisa McDowell sister (played by Shari Headley) he was soaking wet, she said, “We got to get you out of these clothes,” and that implied that they were going to be together.
But me and Lisa went off happily ever after. So, it was like, OK, how do you connect the dots? We thought it would be kind of funny if McDowell opened a McDowell’s in Africa, and it was so that he could be there. It was like, who would make the most sense? That’s how we picked who would be in the movie.
Nomzamo Mbatha spoke about all the women in the sequel and how the film positive female empowerment woven throughout the movie.
Mbatha: For me, there’s going to be so many people that are going to witness so many different central themes to this film. There’s the central theme of identity, the search for identity, the search for purpose, the search of leaving everything that you’ve always known behind and going into the new. But one of the most leading and on the pulse things about this film is a central theme around just the power of the female voice and the power of female empowerment. That’s what I love about the sequel. The finger is on the pulse. They read the room when they were writing the script. Craig Brewer read the room when he was directing those powerful scenes and gave that agency for women to just have agency on set, for women to just have agency with the roles.
Mbatha then spoke about how this film explores the nuances of African women.
Mbatha: For me, it was also important because the film wasn’t going to Queens. It was coming to Zamunda. So it was about what I as an African woman am able to bring in terms of the nuances, in terms of the truth, and rooting it in so much texture and culture and seeing ourselves just…I mean, Mirembe’s witty. She’s smart. She’s sassy. She also brings a lot of grounding, and that’s the thing about comedy that we never give credit to. Comedy, there’s so much drama. There’s so much human connection that we can truly, truly learn. So I’m really just excited for everyone, every Brown girl, every little girl around the world to just see themselves, to hear themselves through the central theme.
Eddie Murphy talked about the legacy of the first one and what he hopes people take away from the sequel.
Murphy: Well, Coming to America is the first movie in the history of movies that had an all-Black cast that was successful all around the world. There’s very few movies that have had all-Black casts that have been successful all around the world. You could count them on one hand, and you’ll have fingers leftover. And Coming to America, just like the first film, is accessible to all audiences. It’s just about family, and love, and doing the right thing, and tradition.
And it has these amazing images of Black kings and queens and princesses. Black Panther did the same thing. That was the second movie that had Black kings and queens. The first one was Coming to America. And the third one is Coming 2 America. It’s just people in the movie telling this story about human beings, stuff that everybody can relate to. The themes are timeless. Love and all this, marrying somebody who you really love.
New cast member, Jermaine Fowler, talked about playing Eddie Murphy’s son in the film and how he inadvertently teaches Akeem.
Fowler: What I go through with him and my situation with Marimba. Akeem slowly gets reminded about what drew him to Queens and his love for Lisa all comes back to him. And it isn’t, you know, without my family, my uncle’s, my mom, and, you know, Marimba that we all start to realize what this movie is. It’s just a reminder of what true love is and sometimes we gotta get bumped in the head a little bit to just remember that.