32 years ago Coming to America was released.
It’s funny and full of iconic moments, yet we’re sure there are some Coming to America facts you probably don’t know. And as we await the sequel, that is underway, to be released, check out all the Coming to America facts and let us know which one surprised you most.
Paula Abdul choreographed the opening dance scene. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Abdul listed her Coming to America gig as one of the top moments of her choreography career.
“This was one of my moments of having to really prove myself, because I was still pretty new in my career as a choreographer. John Landis, the director, wanted the person that choreographed Janet Jackson. I was still a Laker Girl. I went in and he looked at me and said, ‘What are you, a teenager?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I am!’ He basically was telling me, ‘What do you know about African dancing?’ And this is my whole thing when becoming a choreographer: ‘I’ll just tell everyone yes, I know exactly what I’m doing, and then I’ll figure it out later.’”
The name Zamunda came from a famous writer’s name. The film’s screenwriters Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield said in the DVD commentary for the film that they named the kingdom of “Zamunda” after Bob Zmuda, Andy Kaufman’s writing partner and close friend.
Following its box office success, CBS filmed a pilot for a TV version of Coming to America. Tommy Davidson was cast as Prince Tariq and Paul Bates reprised his role of Oha from the movie. However a report from Fusion said that the pilot was so “terrible”that it was not picked up.
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McDowell’s was actually an old Wendy’s in Queens. It even has its own Yelp, although the location has been demolished.
This was Gooding Jr.’s first role. He starred as “boy getting haircut” during the barbershop scene.
King and Queen
James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair both starred as the King and Queen of Zamunda and the King and Queen of Pride Rock in The Lion King.
This was the first film in which Eddie Murphy played multiple characters in one film. In Coming to America, Murphy starred as Prince Akeem, Clarence (owner of the barbershop and one of the barbers), Saul (the older Jewish gentleman in the barbershop), and singer Randy Watson of the group Sexual Chocolate.
Both Eddie Murphy’s brother made a guest appearance in this movie. During the bathroom scene at the basketball game, Murphy’s stepbrother, Vernon Lynch, can be standing in front of him in line.
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While this wasn’t Eddie Murphy and director John Landis’ first film together, this was their worst working relationship on a film. The two, who previously worked on Trading Places, clased so much on the set. In a 2005 interview with Collider, Landis spoke of their relationship calling Murphy a jerk.
On Coming to America, we clashed quite a bit because he was such a pig; he was so rude to people. We had a good working relationship, but our personal relationship changed because he just felt that he was a superstar and that everyone had to kiss his ass. He was a jerk. But great—in fact, one of the greatest performances he’s ever given.
They two stopped talking for several years. It wasn’t until Beverly Hill Cops III that they worked together again.
If you saw Trading Places, you may have noticed that Brothers Randolph and Mortimer Duke made guest appearance in Coming to America. Seeing as in Trading Places they lost all their fortune to Murphy and Don Ameche’s characters, in Coming to America the two played two homeless men who Murphy gave money two. Upon seeing the money, Randolph tells his brother, “Mortimer, we’re back!”
Where Brooklyn At
Prince Akeem went to Queens to find his bride but the film was show in Williamsburg in Brooklyn.