'We Were a Family': Tracy Morgan Reflects on Filming 'Coming 2 America'

Tracy Morgan gives us his feelings on the 'Coming 2 America' set, being able to work with OGs like Eddie Murphy, and the importance of finessing the mic.

Arsenio Hall and Tracy Morgan in 'Coming 2 America'

Image via Amazon Prime Video

Arsenio Hall and Tracy Morgan in 'Coming 2 America'

Judging by the response to the photos from Amazon Prime's Coming 2 America that dropped yesterday, this truly feels like it will be the streaming event of 2021. Even if you take the overwhelming response from eager fans away, and just look at the conversations from the members of the cast? It feels different. It feels like a moment, to quote another living legend, Tracy Morgan, who is cast as Reem, the uncle of Lavelle (portrayed by Jermiaine Fowler), the son Akeem (Eddie Murphy) didn't know he had.

Tracy Morgan's had an amazing return to the scene since a horrific car accident almost stopped his story completely. Just this year, his TBS comedy series, The Last O.G., was renewed for its fourth season this past October, he voiced Captain Caveman in 2020's Scoob!, and now he's a part of Coming 2 America, sharing screentime with Arsenio Hall, Eddie Murphy, Leslie Jones, and so many other talented individuals. "It was surreal," Morgan shared with Complex. "I think it sharing space with Arsenio and Eddie and all the rest of the people in this movie was one of the highlights of my career."

In this conversation, Tracy Morgan talks about what Coming to America meant to him, the freedom of working with director Craig Brewer, that moment at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, where the casts of Bad Boys for Life and Coming 2 America linked up, and the importance of finessing the mic. Through it all, you can feel the love Tracy has for this project. Relish in another exclusive photo from Coming 2 America up above, and be sure to run back Eddie and Arsenio's thoughts on Coming 2 America before it makes waves via Prime Video on March 5, 2021.

With all of this amazing comedic talent lining up for this film, were you shook at all when you got word that you would be getting added to the Coming 2 America cast?
Was I shook? No, I was excited. This is a 31, 32-year-old career right here, man. I was excited to share space with some of the greats, like Arsenio and Eddie, share space with Leslie and all of them. It was exciting. I don't get nervous. I don't get shook. I'm from Brooklyn, man. Like Biggie Smalls said, "Ain't no shook hands in Brooklyn."

Facts! For Black folk, Coming to America is really important. Arsenio compared it to how some families might show The Wizard of Oz once a year. Talk about your history with the film.
That was one of the films that made me want to be in show business. That was one of the films that made me want to be funny. I'd seen one of my comedic heroes, Eddie Murphy, and Arsenio Hall doing what was awesome, the greatest job in the world, making people laugh. It meant a lot to me. What year did that come out, '80 what?

Come on, man. That was the year after my dad passed away.

Oh wow.
That was one of the things that attracted me in a positive way. My dad died in '87. [Coming to America] came out in '88. I [didn't have] much to be happy about. When I saw that film, it made me feel good. That's what it means to me. I don't know what it means to anyone else, but that's the significance that it meant to me.

My dad would have loved it. My dad loved Eddie Murphy. My dad loved Arsenio Hall. My dad would have loved James Earl Jones and everyone else that was in it. So to be a part of the sequel, it meant that much to me, man. It was surreal. I thought—and I'm going to say this on the record—I thought that maybe getting my star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame might've been the highlight of my career. I think it sharing space with Arsenio and Eddie and all the rest of the people in this movie was one of the highlights of my career. To finally work with Eddie, to share space on film with Eddie, I love it. Eddie is my OG. Eddie is probably the guy of my generation that made me want to do stand up. I always remembered his red Pumas on Saturday Night Live.

You mentioned sharing a space with Eddie and Arsenio. With yourself and Leslie added in that mix, there's a lot of hilarious people in this sequel.
Oh my God. When you see the movie, it was so great. The substance in it is awesome. It just sparked nostalgia. There's one part with John Amos and Eddie that's really awesome. The writing is incredible. I think Craig Brewer, I'll follow him into war, man.

He's incredible. I love that. I'm proud to say I'm working with some of the greatest directors in cinematography.

What was it about Craig and working with this capacity that makes you say that? How did he compare to some of the other greats that you've worked with in the past?
For me, he really gets you into a zone of being creative. He allows you to bring what you have to the table. He would direct us, but he would allow you freedom and a bunch of love, and that is important. He gave us a lot of freedom and a lot of love and said, "Have fun, kids."

I also spoke with Arsenio about the freedom to do improv and try out different things while filming Coming 2 America. Would it be fair to say that there was a lot of improv going on?
I would like to say that we were all in the moment. We were all in the moment helping each other. We were a family there. We were all looking forward. We weren't looking for the jokes in the improv, but if it came, if it fit the character? The characters are strong. It's character-driven. It's strong. So, we stayed true to the characters. That's what I like to say. We all stayed true. Look at our family. Look at Jermaine's family from Queens. I was his uncle, that was his mother, and that was his cousin, and his aunts, and we were there. We were in the moment. We stayed in the moment. And I'm quite sure Eddie and Arsenio appreciated it.

Listen, with Craig and Eddie and all those things, we weren't acting. We were being. We were being who we was. That was my nephew. And Jermaine will tell you, "On the set, that was my uncle." And we were behaving and being as such. If we don't buy it, then we can't sell it.

Was it the same way when the cameras stopped rolling?
From craft services to the executive producers, there was a lot of good mornings, there was a lot of I love yous on that set, a lot of respecting each other, there was a lot of loving each other, a lot of hugs. We were all just happy to be there. And we were all happy there to follow Eddie and Arsenio and Craig. I asked Eddie the last day of shooting that I saw him, I said, "Eddie, are you happy?" And he said, "I'm very happy." I said, "Well, I'm happy for your happiness," because we were happy that he was. We just wanted to do our jobs, especially in times like this. We didn't see COVID coming from the moment of filming, but for a movie to come out like this now, is incredible. This will be our gift.

What did it mean for you to be working on Tyler Perry's lot?
Oh, man. It was awesome. One day, I'm driving by and I see this crowd of people because they were filming for Bad Boys for Life, and then there are the pictures you see out there with all of us together—it was a moment. It's just reminding me of the baseball game where Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, and all of them were playing, back in the days. It was that picture. We had been there before. Only thing, it was us now, a different generation. But that was a moment in time. It was a moment.

Black excellence.
We all love each other, man. There was a lot of heart. It was just incredible to be in that moment. It was, for me, everything. And I was the baby of the bunch. Sugar Hill, I was Master Gee. He's the baby of the bunch, but that's okay. I said, "We'll keep it in stride," because all you have to do is just to boogie your behind, keep it on and on and on. You remember, you were there.

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He said, "on and on, and on and on!" You know what I'm saying? Do you know what I just think what's missing in hip-hop today?

What's that?
They don't really know how to finesse the mic. It was about finessing the mic! Master Gee said, "I said, 'on and on and on and on!'" That's finesse. Today, it's all about shock value. That's what I love about mics. Eddie Murphy knows how to finesse to the mic. And what [Coming 2 America] is, that movie is funny, is finesse. All of us, we're moving like water. Like Bruce Lee said, "Be water." And that's what we were on our set. When you [see this film], you're going to go, "They did a damn good job."

I can't wait.
Well, we waited 31 years, man. We don't sell it before its time, man. This film is what you call Asti Spumante. You remember that commercial, Asti Spumante!

Coming 2 America premieres on March 5, 2021 exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.

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