'Coming To America' Never Fails For Rapper Common

Actor and rapper Common talks about the movie he could watch a million times, the classic Eddie Murphy comedy, Coming to America.

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Finally, you know those movies you pull out time and time again when you can't figure out what you want to watch. Our colleagues at Weekends on All Things Considered regularly ask filmmakers and actors about the movies they never get tired of watching. Today, rapper and actor Common tells us about one of his favorites.

COMMON: Peace, this is Common and I'm a artist, an actor. And the movie I've seen a million times is "Coming to America," directed by John Landis, starring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, and James Earl Jones.


COMMON: I first saw "Coming to America" when it was released in theaters. I went to the movies with some friends of mine and we loved it. No matter how many times I've seen it, I still laugh.


CHRISTOPHER MAX: (singing) Just let your soul glow, baby. Feeling oh so silky smooth.

COMMON: I would say it's about a African prince who, the way his tradition and his life is is that he was set up to be married by his parents and that's just the way it usually is.


PAUL BATES: (as Oha, singing) She's your queen-to-be. A queen-to-be forever.

COMMON: But he decided to go find a wife that he really would love and somebody he chose to be his wife. So he left from a country in Africa to come to America to find his queen, his lady. And he actually came to New York, ironically enough to Queens, New York.


ARSENIO HALL: (as Semmi) Halt. Take us to Queens at once.

JAKE STEINFELD: (as cab driver) What part of Queens you want?

HALL: (as Semmi) Take us to the most common part.

STEINFELD: (as cab driver) That's easy. There's one thing Queens has got a lot of, it's common parts.

COMMON: First of all, it just was funny and Eddie Murphy was already one of my favorite actors because he just was so funny. When I see him, it's like he had a certain natural thing about him that was just was great and you don't even, like, try to pay attention to, like, well, is his accent, does it really sound African or not. You just were in it from the beginning.


EDDIE MURPHY: (as Prince Akeem) Hello.

SHARI HEADLEY: (as Lisa McDowell) Hi.

MURPHY: (as Prince Akeem) I am Akeem. I have recently been placed in charge of garbage. Do you have any that requires disposal?

COMMON: You know, you can't help but love some of the barbershop scenes when Eddie Murphy first, his character first came in.


HEADLEY: (as Lisa McDowell) No. It's totally empty.

MURPHY: (as Clarence) Joe Louis the greatest boxer ever lived. I deal with you boys in a minute. He was badder 'n Cassius Clay. He badder 'n Sugar Ray. He badder 'n - who that, the new boy hired - Mike Tyson, look like a bulldog. He badder 'n him, too.

COMMON: He had a tail and he decided to get that cut. And you know, the barbers in there, who were played by Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, they were just talking, you know, about them, about these guys from Africa, like, just kind of looking at'em strange.


MURPHY: (as Clarence) Boy, what that? Some kind of weave or something?

MURPHY: (as Prince Akeem) It's just my natural hair. I've been growing it since birth.

MURPHY: (as Clarence) What kind of chemical you got in there?

MURPHY: (as Prince Akeem) I've put no chemicals, only juices and berries.

COMMON: Seeing somebody as great as Eddie Murphy do what he does.


MURPHY: (as Akeem) When you're away through here, gone each day. To be loved, to be loved. Wow, what a feeling.

COMMON: His acting influenced me in a way that made me want to be a star.


THE SYSTEM: (singing) Oh say, can you see? I'm coming to America.

MARTIN: That was actor and rapper Common, talking about the movie he's watched a million times, the Eddie Murphy classic, "Coming to America."


SYSTEM: (singing) Oh say, can you see? I'm coming to America, the land of opportunity. Oh say, can you see? I'm coming to America.

MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and you've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.


SYSTEM: (singing) Oh say, can you see? I'm coming to America, coming to America. Oh say, can you see? I'm coming to America. Oh say, can you see? I'm coming to America, coming to America. Oh say, can you see? I'm coming to America, land of opportunity. Oh say, can you see? I'm coming to America.

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