Wesley Snipes Auditioned for Coming to America

After more than 30 years, Coming 2 America is bringing back Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall to reprise their royal roles from the original comedy Coming to America. Joining them will be Wesley Snipes as a new character, a military man named General Izzi who will undoubtedly stir up trouble for the fictional African nation of Zamunda. Funnily enough, Snipes could have been part of the original Coming to America cast, but he ended up losing the role in question to someone else.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the star of Blade and White Men Can’t Jump recalled auditioning for the role of Darryl, the heir to the Soul Glo empire played by future ER star Eriq LaSalle. Snipes remembered:

“I auditioned for the first Coming to America, but I didn’t get to audition in front of Eddie. After three call backs, I ended up losing the role to Eriq La Salle.”

Darryl also happened to be the douchebag boyfriend of Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley), who Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) had fallen in love with. It wasn’t a huge part, but it might have given Snipes a chance to have a career breakthrough a little bit sooner. Thankfully, Major League came around in 1989 followed by a string of movies like King of New York, Mo’ Better Blues, New Jack City, Jungle Fever, White Men Can’t Jump, and Demolition Man, making Snipes a big star. But Snipes kept wanting to work with Eddie Murphy after all these years. The actor said:

”Ever since I saw that [Coming to America], I’ve wanted to work with Eddie…I wanted to check the great grandmaster comedian Eddie Murphy off my bucket list.”

Thankfully, Snipes already got a chance to do that with Netflix’s Dolemite Is My Name. And now he’s taking a victory lap with a role in Coming 2 America. But Snipes was still nervous for this outing despite working with Murphy not too long ago. He said:

“Working with him was surreal, joyful, hilarious, and, at times, a little scary, because you know he lives in the world of funny and you want to at least be in the room. I don’t know if it was toe to toe, I’d characterize it more like riding along, and, in some cases, hanging on. If you watch his films over the years, you can tell that a lot of the comedians in some way have a residue of Eddie’s style, and I even think some of us actors from that era. He’s so great that you pick up little things, maybe it’s timing or a little look. Eddie can convey the subtleties and humor in life and materialize our inner thoughts. He can say all of the stuff that we wish we had the nerve to say.”

Though Murphy’s comedies over the past couple decades have been more disappointing than satisfying, Dolemite Is My Name certainly brought back some of the comedic flair that made him a huge comedy star back in the 1980s and into the 1990s. Hopefully Coming 2 America can continue that trend when it arrives on Amazon Prime on March 5, 2021.

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