Everyone is back in Coming 2 America, the sequel to the 1988 smash hit comedy Coming to America, even the crew of McDowells. The movie arrives in theaters and streaming today, and I jumped at the chance to talk with Louie Anderson about returning to the role of Maurice for the sequel.
Even though Anderson has had a gigantic career in standup, film and television, he told me that he’s met plenty of people over the lsat three decades who know him primarily as Maurice from Coming to America. It may be a small role but it’s resonated big with fans.
“I’ve been asked for 30 years,” Louie told me, “are you going to be in the next one? Is there going to be the next one? Why I haven’t done the next one?” So now he will never have to answer that again. In the 33 years since he first played Maurice, he’s often been recognized from the role, particularly by immigrants. He said drivers would often peek over their shoulder into the back seat of the car and go, “Hey, you’re the fry guy.” He’d regularly hear that from drivers of cars that they sent for him in show business. “They were often people from other countries who told him that movie is the reason they decided to move to America.”
“And I’d go, “Why?” And they go, “You’re the fry guy. Coming to America. I came here because of that movie.” And I’d go, “Yeah, man. That’s cool. I mean, that introduced me to a whole culture of people that would not necessarily have known me. And so I’ve always felt very connected to that.”
In the new movie, Maurice gets to appear in two pivotal scenes, including the film’s opening with all of the original cast, and many talented young performers. The scale of the film is as big as the original, but it still felt like an intimate family reunion to Louie.
“There were a hundred people in that scene and Eddie and I just sat and talked. And me and Arsenio sat and talked and we just all sat and it was really nice. Eddie and I talked about stand up and his goal was to do Dolemite, to do Coming 2 America and then to go out on a big tour. And so I grilled him about the standup because I wanted to know. I told him he could open for me any time and I had fun with it. He’s a lovely human being.”
Louie has nothing but raves for all of the performers in the film, and while he said it was thrilling to work with Eddie again, he had the highest compliments for the great John Amos. “John is such a really great fatherly figure, he always calls me Louis and I go, “What did I do?” You know what I mean? I feel I sit up higher in the chair when he says it.” He made sure to point out how influential Amos has been in the big screen and the small one. “Hey, let me tell you something about John. They wouldn’t have been making Coming to America and those kind of movies without him. I mean, all the television that John was part of, he broke down some huge barriers doing those sitcoms. I mean, those were about working class people. Those people had a lot of pride and love and belief and family and John’s the real thing. I really want to do a project with him.”
Louie enjoyed working with the new characters in the film too. “The new people, the young actors and the extras all the other people in the scene were in awe of the original situation and many of them were actors because of that movie. I mean, it played a part in their history. And we took lots of pictures with people that really wanted those. I just felt really good about all that.” He was full of compliments about Leslie Jones, and also the rising star of the film, Jermaine Fowler. He said, “He’s already a movie star.”
The experience was a rare opportunity to form new relationships and reconnect with old friends. “This is my full circle,” he said, “Eddie’s full circle, Arsenio’s full circle, and John and Lisa and everybody else’s full circle and all the fans full circle.” And this time, he kept a souvenir.
“Eddie gave me my costume to take,” he said. “And Eddie, he goes, “That looks good on you, why don’t you take it?” They came for it. They tracked me down. They go, “Where’s your costume?” And I said, “Eddie gave it to me. You can’t have it.”
He’s looking forward to seeing Eddie’s next move, going on a great new stand up tour. “I’ve heard some of the material and it is out of this world.” And Louie should know, he’s one of the all time stand up greats himself. I reminded him of that. His reply was perfect: “after 42 years for me, I still have plenty in that tank, and that’s a great feeling.”
Coming 2 America is in Theaters and streaming on Amazon.com now.