Because Snipes auditioned for the original 1988 film and went out for the part of Darryl Jenks, the heir to the Soul Glow throne and the pompous boyfriend of Lisa McDowell, played by Shari Headley. But the part went to Eriq La Salle instead, and it’s something that crushed Snipes at the time.
The actor talked about the experience during a roundtable discussion with his fellow cast mates from the movie “Dolemite Is My Name,” which he co-stars in with Murphy.
“I auditioned for ‘Coming to America,’ and I remember being so sad,” Snipes recalled. “‘Cause I really wanted to be in the movie. I wanted to work with him, and I was really, like, contemplating what my purpose in life was after losing that to Eriq La Salle.”
Murphy then explained why Snipes wasn’t right for the role, which had to do with his physical characteristics more than anything else. And it’s something that Snipes didn’t know at the time but wish he did, based on his response.
“Our look was too close,” Murphy explained. “You actually look more African than me.”
“I didn’t know none of that, man,” Snipes said afterward. “That would have healed me. I was in the bathroom [like] ‘Why am I even doing this? I’m not going to quit. They not gonna break me down.'”
In the sequel to “Coming to America,” called “Coming 2 America,” Snipes plays General Izzi, the leader of an African nation that borders the fictional Zamunda, the country that Murphy’s character Prince Akeem rules.
“Now he’s in the ‘Coming to America’ that we’re doing … and crushing it … Eriq is too lightskinded to play that one,” joked Murphy.
The upcoming sequel stars other newcomers besides Snipes, like Leslie Jones, Michael Blackson, Tracy Morgan and Rick Ross. And some of the actors from the original film will reprise their roles, such as James Earl Jones, John Amos and Paul Bates.
According to Deadline, “Coming 2 America” will be in theaters on Aug. 7, 2020.