Coming 2 America reunites many characters from the original, but some fan favorites don’t appear in the sequel. How the movie explains their absence.
Fans of 1988’s Coming to America will notice some characters are missing from Coming 2 America. At the time of Coming to America’s release, Eddie Murphy was already a household name thanks to his tenure on Saturday Night Live, his stand-up comedy specials, and his starring roles in Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hrs., Trading Places, and Beverly Hills Cop II. The romantic comedy, directed by John Landis, co-starred Arsenio Hall, John Amos, James Earl Jones, and Shari Headley. Coming to America was a box office hit, earning $288 million worldwide.
Coming 2 America, currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video as one of its exclusive 2021 movie releases, picks up three decades after the fairytale wedding of Prince Akeem Joffer (Murphy) and Lisa McDowell (Headley), who now have three daughters. The future of Zamunda is uncertain as Akeem has no male heir, making the country vulnerable to an attack from General Izzo (Wesley Snipes) of Nexdoria. As King Jaffe (Jones) lays on his deathbed, he reveals that Akeem does indeed have a son: the product of a forgotten drug-induced tryst facilitated by Semmi (Hall) during their time in Queens. This news sends Semmi and Akeem back to America to track down the last and seemingly best hope to secure Zamunda’s future. Coming 2 America flips the script with Akeem grooming his son Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler) to take his place and forcing Lavelle into marrying Izzo’s daughter Bopoto (Teyana Taylor).
Coming 2 America infuses some new blood into the cast, including Leslie Jones as Mary Junson, Tracy Morgan as Uncle Reem, and Nonzamo Mbatha as Lavelle’s love interest, Mirembe. Akeem’s daughters Meeka, Tinashe, and Omma, are played by KiKi Layne, Akiley Love, and Bella Murphy (Eddie Murphy’s real-life daughter). Morgan Freeman, Trevor Noah, Gladys Knight, Colin Jost, Davido, En Vogue, and Salt-N-Pepa all make cameo appearances. More importantly for fans, the sequel brings back a host of memorable characters with cast members from Coming to America reprising their roles: Amos as Cleo McDowell, Vanessa Bell Calloway as Imani Izzo (General Izzo’s sister), Paul Bates as Oha, Garcelle Beauvais (former rose bearer turned priestess), and Louis Anderson as the long-suffering McDowell’s employee, Maurice. Hall and Murphy slap on the prosthetics to resurrect My-T-Sharp cut-ups Clarence, Morris, and Saul, as well as Hall’s Reverend Brown and Murphy’s Randy Watson. Despite the impressive accomplishment of reuniting so many original cast members, some characters are missing from the sequel.
Samuel L. Jackson played an armed robber whose attempt to hold up McDowell’s was thwarted by Semmi and Akeem. In 1988, Jackson had yet to establish himself as a Hollywood A-lister, but following Coming to America, he went on to star in blockbusters such as Pulp Fiction, Jurassic Park, and the Star Wars prequel trilogy. He’s frequently collaborated with directors Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino, and his role as Nick Fury has made him a mainstay in numerous Marvel movies. In a 2019 interview, Murphy told HipHollywood that Jackson was too busy to sign on for Coming 2 America, which would have shown his character robbing McDowell’s again. Jackson appears in a clip from the first film that serves as a flashback as Mirembe tells Lavelle how his father overcame many obstacles to land the woman of his dreams.
Eriq La Salle played Darryl Jenks, Lisa’s obnoxious, sexist boyfriend and follicly-challenged heir to the Soul Glo empire. Lisa broke up with La Salle’s Jheri curled lothario after he conspired with Cleo to announce he and Lisa’s engagement without actually popping the question. When fans last saw Darryl, he was being comforted by Lisa’s younger sister. La Salle, who played Dr. Peter Benton for nine seasons on ER, has channeled his talents behind the camera, directing and serving as an executive producer on the NBC series Chicago P.D. In 2019, TheGrio reported that during the network’s 5th annual Chicago press day, La Salle told journalists he didn’t have the time to reprise the role that he beat out Wesley Snipes to play. There are no references to Darryl in the sequel.
Classicly-trained actor Frankie Faison (The Expanse) played Akeem and Semmi’s landlord in Coming to America. The role wasn’t big, but Faison left a lasting impression on fans of the film as the overseer of the building that housed bugs, rats and was even the scene of a double homicide (a man and his dog). In an interview with the New York Daily News, Faison recalled how Landis was considering him for the roles of the landlord and Cleo McDowell. He also stated that despite his vast and varied body of work (The Wire, Grey’s Anatomy, Banshee, The Good Wife, Luke Cage), he’s most often recognized for Coming to America. There’s no mention of Faison’s character in Coming 2 America, but with Akeem’s old neighborhood undergoing gentrification, it’s safe to assume he had to move to a less appealing borough.
Allison Dean, who played Patrice McDowell, Lisa’s boy crazy younger sister in the first film, is only seen in a photo during the sequel’s opening credits. Although Akeem had eyes for Lisa, he did go on one date with Patrice, who not so discreetly fondled him as they watched a college basketball game. Patrice also cozied up to Semmi, and she made a play for a heartbroken Darryl. Following Coming to America, Dean appeared in the movies Speed 2: Cruise Control and Ruby in Paradise, and the television shows Once and Again, Alias, and Girlfriends, after which her career appears to have stalled. Any explanation for Dean’s absence or Patrice’s fate remains a mystery, but some fans took to Twitter to express their curiosity regarding the only missing McDowell’s whereabouts.
Emmy-winning actress Madge Sinclair played Akeem’s mother, Queen Aoleon, who deferred to her husband on many matters with the exception of her son’s happiness. Before Coming to America, Sinclair was best known for playing Bell Reynolds in the miniseries Roots and her role as nurse Ernestine Shoop on Trapper John, M.D. Sinclair died of leukemia in 1995 after a 13-year battle with the disease. Coming 2 America pays homage to Queen Aoleon throughout the film using family photos, a portrait in King Jaffe’s bedroom, and most touchingly when her name is evoked during a conversation between Akeem and Cleo. As Cleo offers advice to a conflicted Akeem, he questions what the Queen might say, stating he always thought her to be the wisest of the Joffers.
News Source – Screenrent