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Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall Reveal Studio Forced Them to Put White Actor in ‘Coming to America’

"We were forced to put in a white person," Hall said about the 1988 comedy hit.

COMING TO AMERICA, Arsenio Hall, Eddie Murphy, 1988

“Coming to America”

©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall revealed during their recent visit to “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (via Insider) that Louie Anderson was cast in “Coming to America” as McDowell’s employee Maurice because the studio mandated a white comedian appear in the 1988 comedy. According to the actors, Paramount went so far as to give them a list of three white actors to choose from. Anderson was cast because Murphy and Hall were fans of his stand-up comedy. IndieWire has reached out to Paramount for further comment.

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

Murphy added, “[The studio was] like, ‘There has to be a white person in the movie.’ I was like, ‘What?’ So who was the funniest white guy around? We knew Louie was cool, so that’s how Louie got in the movie.”

“It was official,” Hall continued. “I had a list. They gave me a list with three white guys. They said, ‘Who would you rather work with?’ I said Louie.”

When Kimmel asked which other two white comedians were on Paramount’s casting list, Hall said he could not reveal the answer. Anderson, best known more recently for his Emmy-winning performance on the FX comedy series “Baskets,” is reprising the role of Maurice in the upcoming “Coming 2 America.”

The road to “Coming 2 America” was an unexpected one, as Murphy and Hall never planned to create a follow-up movie to their 1988 comedy hit. As the film’s popularity endured for over two decades, the comedians grew more inspired to turn “Coming to America” into a franchise. Murphy revealed last month he vetoed one pitch for a “Coming to America” sequel developed by Ryan Coogler that would’ve cast Michael B. Jordan as his character’s son.

“Coming 2 America” stars Murphy and Hall alongside original cast members like James Earl Jones and franchise newcomers such as Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Kiki Layne, and Tracy Morgan. Murphy originally had an idea to cast Morgan as his character’s son, but decided against it as the age differences didn’t make sense.

“Coming 2 America” launches on Amazon Prime Video this Friday, March 5.

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