The original Coming To America remains one of the all-time great films in American history. The sequel carried on tradition with a hilarious new chapter, Coming 2 America, which reunited familiar faces, introduced fresh characters, and revived classic gags that have had us laughing for over 30 years.
All-time great Eddie Murphy is no longer the fresh-faced Prince Akeem, his new title is King Akeem Joffer, as he was crowned King of Zamunda after his father fell ill.
Murphy also revives other characters from the first film including Randy “Sexual Chocolate” Watson as well as Mr. Clarence and Saul, a Queens barber and his Jewish pal. With Coming 2 America among the nominees for “Best Movie” at the BET Awards 2021, here are the cameos from some of our favorite stars whose characters had us rolling from start to finish.
King Akeem’s sidekick, who was often confused for his servant, turns out to be his half-brother. Played by the ageless Arsenio Hall, Semi joins Akeem once again on his journey to Queens, this time to find his long lost son, Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler). Like Murphy, Hall plays a handful of other characters in the film, including Reverend Brown, Morris from Mr. Clarence’s barbershop, and Baba, a shaman who first informs King Akeem that he has a son he never knew of in America. From Semi’s hilariously scheming ways to Baba’s wrinkles and White locks, Hall makes every character unforgettable with his willingness to act a fool.
It turns out that King Akeem’s son Lavelle was conceived by someone other than current wife and original love interest, Lisa (Shari Headley). Though he hadn’t realized it until now, Akeem finds out he had a one-night stand with Mary Junson, played by the sidesplitting and scene-stealing Leslie Jones. She, along with her brother Uncle Reems (Tracy Morgan), accompanies Lavelle overseas to Zamunda, where it becomes clear she’s a tad rough around the edges for the royal court. Jones grew up idolizing Eddie Murphy, revealing at a press conference, “I used to dress like Eddie,” she said. “So, I had on all leather, I had a jheri curl where my hair was shaved all the way to the sides. They interviewed me for the college paper, and they were like, ‘So, what’s next?’ I was like, ‘I’m the next Eddie Murphy!’ It’s a good bet that from her small but substantial, critically lauded part in the film, she’s made her one-time idol proud.
Akeem’s almost father-in-law John Amos reprises his classic role as Cleo McDowell, the shameless owner of the McDonald’s knock-off McDowell’s, where Akeem and Semi worked in the first film. After finding out about Akeem’s royal heritage, he was eager to offer either of his daughters’ hands in marriage. His shiesty parenting was a perfect balance to the ever-powerful James Earl Jones who returns as King Jaffe Joffer, the respected patriarch of Zamunda who once pressured Akeem to marry a woman he didn’t love.
The veteran comedian returns for a short but memorable role as Maurice, a loyal McDowell's employee who finally gets upgraded to manager at the restaurant’s Zamunda location. He predicted his rise in the original film when he told new employees Akeem and Semi, “I started out mopping the floor just like you guys, but now, now I'm washing lettuce. Soon I'll be on fries; then the grill. In a year or two, I'll make assistant manager, and that's when the big bucks start rolling in!” The line inspired a bar in Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” and continues to crack us up when we watch him in this sequel.
Nigerian-American actor-singer Rotimi, who plays the son of hot-tempered General Izz (Wesley Snipes), was proud to tap into his African roots on screen. “It was surreal cause I knew what it represented to the culture, I knew what it represented to my family,” Rotimi said while promoting the film. “Being first-generation Nigerian, I called my parents to say ‘Yo, I’m a part of something we have watched for 30 years.’”