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Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall explain why a white actor was cast in ‘Coming to America’

Arsenio Hall and Eddie Murphy standing side-by-side in "Coming 2 America."
Arsenio Hall, left, and Eddie Murphy star in “Coming 2 America.”
(Amazon Studios)

While reminiscing about working on “Coming to America,” Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall divulged telling new details about the casting process for their 1988 comedy classic.

When TV host Jimmy Kimmel asked them Monday about comic Louie Anderson‘s involvement in the franchise, Murphy and Hall revealed that Anderson was tapped because Paramount Pictures insisted on including a white actor in the cast. In the film, Anderson plays Maurice, an employee at fast-food restaurant McDowell’s.

“I love Louie, but I think we were forced to put Louie in it,” Hall said on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” “We were forced to put a white person.”

"[T]he whole cast is Black — and this was back in the ‘80s — so [Paramount] was like, ‘We have to have a white person! There has to be a white person in the movie,’” Murphy added. “So it was, ‘Who’s the funniest white guy around?’ And Louie, we knew him. We was cool with him. So that’s how Louie got in the movie.”

How Eddie Murphy and “Dolemite Is My Name” director Craig Brewer reteamed for “Coming 2 America,” a sequel over 30 years in the making.

According to Hall, Paramount presented them with a list of three white performers and said, “Who would you rather work with?” Asked by Kimmel if he remembered the other two options, Hall laughed and said, “Oh, yeah. But I can’t say.”

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On Feb. 24, Anderson responded to a similar anecdote Murphy shared with NBC’s “Today” show.

“Wait what?” he tweeted, suggesting he was finding out the truth behind his casting for the first time — or cracking a dry joke about it.

Anderson appears again alongside the comedy duo in the highly anticipated sequel, “Coming 2 America,” for which Murphy and Hall reprised their beloved roles as Prince Akeem and Semmi, respectively.

New to the royal saga are comedians Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan, who was originally cast in the follow-up as Prince Akeem’s son before it was decided that Morgan, 52, was too old to play the onscreen child of Murphy, 59.

“We wrote two, three versions of the script, and then we started thinking ... ‘Will people believe that Tracy is me and Leslie’s child?” Murphy said. “He looks like he’s our age. And then we started thinking about it differently.”

“And Jimmy, I would drop hints because I never liked that idea,” Hall added. “I love Tracy. I wanted him in it. But I would say to Eddie, ‘Hey, maybe for the third one, Morgan Freeman can be your son.’”

Shortly before a Screen Actors Guild Q&A for his most recent movie, “Mr.

Kimmel also teased Hall about his stint on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” asking him if he still kept in touch with his “celebrity mentor,” Donald Trump. (In 2012, Hall won the reality competition series’ fifth season.)

“We don’t talk a lot,” Hall joked, before recalling when Trump “got mad” because he allegedly failed to mention the former president in an interview.

“He took the interview and he wrote, in Sharpie, ‘No Trump,’ and he photographed it and emailed it back to me,” Hall said. “The strangest transmission I’ve ever had.”

“That’s what I wrote on my ballot in November, actually,” Kimmel quipped.

“Coming 2 America” debuts Friday on Amazon Prime Video.

Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall reprise their slate of zany characters from the original 1988 comedy in the new teaser for “Coming 2 America.”


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