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The Year of Eddie Murphy

It’s been 32 years since Eddie Murphy brought the role of the charming, but naive, African prince to life in “Coming to America.”

He just wrapped up filming the sequel, “Coming 2 America,” and hosted Saturday Night Live, which helped launch his comedy career, on Saturday, Dec. 21. His opening monologue was interrupted by Tracy Morgan, Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, the latter of whom noted he stopped by solely because his kids love Lizzo, who was performing on the show. “My kids love Lizzo, too,” Murphy shot back.

Murphy joked about this career comeback(s), which also include a movie on Netflix called “Dolemite is my Name,” sharing that after the birth of his tenth child and first grandchild, he needed to go back to work, because “kids are expensive.”

It’s been well-documented that Murphy landed his first gig with Saturday Night Live when he was just out of high school - he called the talent coordinator three times a day until he landed an audition. Following four years on Saturday Night Live, Murphy starred as the Crown Prince of Zamunda in “Coming to America” in 1988, a role that he will reprise in December 2020. More film success followed with “48 Hours,” “Trading Places,” “Delirious,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Raw,” “Harlem Nights,” “Boomerang” and “The Nutty Professor.”

Details around the plot line of “Coming 2 America” are murky, but involve a newly discovered heir in the United States, whom Murphy’s character will seek out as he’s transitioning from Prince to King of Zamunda.

Murphy has spent considerable time out of the spotlight as he’s focused on raising a large family. But he’s back and as popular as ever, if the numbers are to tell the story: “Dolemite” is the most-watched movie currently on Netflix, his Saturday Night Live hosting episode was as ratings win with through-the-roof viewership, and searches for “Coming 2 America” result in 1,950,000,000 hits.

On Ellen, Murphy said he “Couldn’t be happier” with how Coming 2 America turned out. The December 2020 comedy will also have Tracy Morgan and Wesley Snipes joining the cast. Plus, Murphy is returning to the makeup chair to continue playing his other various characters from the original besides Prince Akeem. 

“I’m just over the moon with how it’s turned out,” he said of the film’s progress, while in discussion with Antonio Banderas (his former Shrek voice cast mate) for Variety‘s “Actors on Actors” video series.

Saying he and the crew behind the sequel found a “clever way” to update and continue the story of the 1988 original, Murphy expressed that of all the hits in his filmography, Coming to America seems to be the one fans most associate him with.

“I don’t know what it is about that movie, but that’s the one movie that I’ve done that, like, on Halloween people dress up like the characters, and people always say lines from that movie to me,” said Murphy.


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