‘Coming 2 America’ | Anatomy of a Scene

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“Hello, my name is Craig Brewer and I am the director of ‘Coming 2 America.’ King Akeem is now coming to Queens for the first time to retrieve his son. And this is the scene where he meets Leslie Jones’s character, who is Lavelle Junson’s mother, Mary.” “Oh my God. My African.” “I told you he was going to come back.” “Boy, why you ain’t tell me he was bringing company? I would have cleaned up.” “So you know this man?” “I definitely know this man. I know this man all the way live. You know?” “This was the first scene that we really had all of these comedians in one room together. And the set was small, and we have all these different types of performers, and they’re all doing their first scene with Eddie Murphy. So you have to remember that even the actors in the scene have a lot on their mind, because Eddie means so much to them. The one thing that I think that people forget about Eddie’s portrayal of Akeem is that he’s still always going to be very optimistic. He’s going to be very regal. He’s not that on tilt Eddie Murphy performance that we sometimes will see in his comedy routines. But he’s coming into a whole world now that’s that feels like it cut its teeth on “Delirious” and “Raw.” You know, Leslie Jones’s humor is— it’s coming from a place of love.” “He might be. He just— y’all know I was a ho, though? Y’all know I was out in these streets?” “She truly loves her son, but she has no shame about this one night stand where all Akeem has is shame in this.” “I’ve come back for my son and have him take his rightful place on the throne.” “Ain’t nothin’ happening. Zamumda, Wakanda, Connecticut, I don’t know where you from. But I’ve been a force in this boy’s life since he was born.” “The same could be said with Tracy Morgan. You know, Tracy Morgan’s character takes delight in that he was this uncle that was schooling his son on the streets of Queens. And this is the bubble of fantasy that Akeem is now watching get popped right in front of him. He’s got to face this.” “The only way he can fix the problems in his life is that this has to be his heir. But now he’s got this family that’s nothing like what he’s been raised around. But it was everything he used to love when he first came to Queens. So something’s happened to Akeem over these 30 years, where that specialness of something new and something raw, for lack of a better word, used to excite him.” “Ma, pack your bags, man. We out.” “Amen. So do I have my own hut with my private shaman?” “And now he’s got fear and uncertainty. And he’s got to make it work. A question I get a lot about Eddie Murphy is, how do you edit down all the choices that he’s giving you with all the improvisation that usually happens on set, and everything? But I think what would surprise a lot of people is that he can be precise. He really prepares. And so what I find needs to happen on set, when you’ve got Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan all on set together, is you got to maybe not roll for a little bit. You’ve got to let these four people like tell old jokes about people that they knew on the comedy circuit. But then it was like, O.K., now it’s time to get to work. And then Eddie would nail it in like two takes.” “Do you think Lisa would be understanding?” “What is not to understand?”



www.nytimes.com 2021-03-05 16:29:50

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