Coming to America star Eddie Murphy reveals that Paramount forced the film’s creators to add a white character in the hit romantic comedy.
Eddie Murphy reveals that Paramount lobbied the creators of Coming to america to include a white character in the movie. Directed by John Landis, the 1988 romantic comedy starring Murphy was a commercial success, debuting at number one at the box office. It also marked Paramount’s highest-grossing film that year. Throughout the past decades, the film’s popularity has endured and has finally sparked a sequel titled, Coming 2 America, which will launch on Amazon Prime Video on March 5.
The original Coming to america follows Akeem Joffer, the prince of the fictional African country, Zamunda, who travels to the United States in search of a girlfriend. Rejecting the wishes of his parents, King Jaffe (James Earl Jones) and Queen Aoleon (Madge Sinclair), who try to persuade him to embrace an arranged marriage, he travels to New York with his personal assistant, Semmi (Arsenio Hall). There, he assumes a false identity, looking for someone who loves him regardless of his social status or wealth. He eventually falls in love with Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley), the daughter of Akeem’s new employer, who owns a franchise who runs a fast food chain called McDowell’s. It is in this job that Akeem meets several eccentric characters, including his colleague, Maurice, played by comedian Louie Anderson.
According to CinemaBlend, Murphy, while speaking in Jimmy Kimmel Live! With Arsenio Hall, he shared that the studio pushed for a white character to join the cast, which was largely made up of black actors. Hall noted, “I love Louie, but I think we were forced to include Louie. I think we were forced to put a white person. ” Murphy agreed, adding his own explanation for the casting decision:
Paramount was like, because the entire cast was black and this was in the ’80s. So it was like,’ There has to be a white person in the movie. ‘ I was like, ‘What?’ So who was the funniest white man in the area? We knew Louie was great, that’s how Louie got into the movie.
This is far from the first time that studio executives have attempted to reshape a film that focuses heavily on characters of color. During the early stages of the much-loved Netflix movie, To all the boys that I fell in love withAuthor Jenny Han, who wrote the original source material, faced a similar struggle. In an interview, he revealed that the producers suggested that he modify the Korean-American ethnicity of the protagonist and instead focus on a white teenager. A similar situation happened to Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians, while working on the successful film adaptation of the same name. Unfortunately, studio heads aren’t the only ones. When Halle Bailey was cast to play the title role in the live-action remake of The little Mermaid, a racist reaction emerged online in response to the news.
In this way, while certainly not surprising, it remains disappointing that Paramount felt compelled to order that a white character be added to the story of Coming to america. Even now, all-white casts are still the norm in the Hollywood industry, perpetuating the idea that these types of stories are “neutral,” while movies with characters of color must work twice as hard to get the hang of it. same level of funding and exposure. , because studio executives incorrectly assume that they will not “engage” with the general public. As has been proven time and again with blockbusters like Coming to america, Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, and many other movies, this is far from the truth.
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