Eddie Murphy experienced a remarkable upward trajectory in his career in the early to mid-1980s that included “Saturday Night Live” and a string of blockbuster hits like 48 HRS, Trading Places, The Golden Child, RAW and especially Beverly Hills Cop, the latter remaining one of the highest-grossing comedies of all time.
By the time Murphy arrived at Coming to America in 1988, he had accrued an enormous amount of industry cachet and had graduated from being a mere pop culture phenomenon to a bonafide icon. Despite his star power, however, the film studio ordered Murphy and co-star Arsenio Hall to hire “a white guy” so that the film would not be all Black.
Hall, who also give a gut-busting cameo in their next film together, Harlem Nights, told Jimmy Kimmel about Paramount’s curious mandate on including a token Caucasian, comedian Louie Anderson. It was not negotiable.
“I love Louie, but I think we were forced to put Louie in it. We were forced to put in a White person,” Hall said.
Murphy corroborated Hall’s recollection.
“They were like, ‘There has to be a White person in the movie,’ ” Murphy added. “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.”
Hall, 65, said Paramount handed down a list of White actors they had to choose from.
“It was official. I had a list. They gave me a list with three white guys. They said, “Who would you rather work with?’ I said ‘Louie.’”
Anderson appears in the sequel, Coming 2 America, which will be released on March 5.
Murphy said somberly that things haven’t really changed much in terms of the racial composition and relations in Hollywood from the 8os until now.
“It’s been this way for years and years, but it’s not just African-Americans; it’s also about women and other minorities, too. White men run this business. It’s always been this way,” he told Radio Times.
Flip the page to view Murphy’s and Hall’s interview with Kimmel.