Even in sequel-happy Hollywood — and for a guy who has made a fair share of them himself — Eddie Murphy explains why it took so much time for him to consider a follow-up to his 1988 comedy classic Coming to America.
“When we finished the original Coming to America, it ended on ‘they live happily ever after,’ so we never thought about doing a sequel,” Murphy tells Yahoo Entertainment as he promoted that very sequel he never thought would happen, this week’s Coming 2 America (watch our full cast interview above). “Usually sequels come a year or after the original movie, so we never thought about it.
“But then Coming to America became part of the culture, and little lines from the movie, and catchphrases like ‘Sexual Chocolate’ [took off], and people dress up as the characters [for Halloween]. It just stayed around.”
Murphy, 59, says it was around six years ago that he got the idea for part two, which finds his newly minted king of Zamunda returning to New York alongside his faithful hand Semmi (Arsenio Hall) after discovering he has a son (Jermaine Fowler) he never knew about.
Arsenio Hall and Eddie Murphy in 'Coming 2 America' (Amazon)
And he credits another acting icon, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in helping inspire it.
“You know what happened, I was watching, one of those Terminator movies with Schwarzenegger [most likely 2016’s Terminator: Genisys] and they used the special effect where they made him really young,” Murphy says. “I was like, ‘If they did that, we could do a scene where we’re young’ … and that was the piece that made it all sort of fall into place.”
That scene in Coming 2 America is a flashback where Akeem and Semmi hit a club in search of a bride-to-be for the former. In the sequel, it’s revealed they also meet the overzealous Mary Junson (Leslie Jones), who introduces Akeem to weed shortly before their one-night stand (thus the not remembering part).
While Murphy and Hall (in a rare film role) were de-aged by CGI for that scene, they still put in plenty of hours in the makeup chair to reprise their many returning additional characters, like the barbershop’s Morris, Saul and Clarence, the Rev. Brown and fan-favorite Randy Watson.
“It’s the same exact long, drawn-out, five hours in the makeup process,” Murphy says when asked if undergoing those transformations was any easier 30-plus years later. “That didn’t get any easier.”