From wondering how different The Matrix would have been with Will Smith-–the original choice for “Neo”—in it to reading up on the parallels between Coming to America and The Lion King (James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair were the parents of the lead character in both movies), I’ve always been obsessed with finding trivia and other tidbits about particular movies. IMDB.com is a great source for this type of information. There, I found a few fun bits of trivia from our favorite movies that you may not have known.
1) Boomerang’s original script called for Marcus (Eddie Murphy) to lose both Jacqueline (Robin Givens) and Angela (Halle Berry). Apparently, one of (director) Reginald Hudlin’s friends advised him that the movie ending with Eddie getting no girl would have upset the audience. And, if the hundreds of thousands of young Black men who wanted to be an “ad exec” after seeing this movie (and wanting Marcus Graham’s life) are any indication, he was definitely right.
2)The list of actresses and entertainers considered for the role of Shug Avery in The Color Purple reads like a “Who’s Who?” of early 80’s pop culture.Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle, Phyllis Hyman, Lola Falana, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, and Sheryl Lee Ralph all were considered for the role at one point. Basically, if you were a famous Black woman who happened to be in her mid 30’s to early 40’s and you weren’t considered for this role, you probably needed to fire your agent.
3)They apparently start very early in South Central. Like, very, very, very, very, very early. This is the only way to explain the peculiar parent-child casting decisions in Boyz n The Hood. Although they were father and son in the movie, Laurence Fishburne is only six years older than Cuba Gooding Jr. Adding insult to very early parenthood is the fact that Tyra Ferrell is only seven years older than the actors who played her sons, Morris Chestnut and Ice Cube.
4)Ike Turner isn’t a very popular man. But, apparently, Angela Bassett is a very popular woman. Neither of these statements are Earth-shattering revelations. Ike Turner’s name is the go-to insult for men accused of hitting women (and wearing ridiculous hairpieces), and Angela Bassett has everyone’s favorite arms. Laurence Fishburne, though, drove home this point even further, as he turned down the role of Ike Turner in What’s Love Got to Do with It five times (five!!!) before finally agreeing…but only after hearing that Angela Bassett was cast as Tina Turner.
5)Denzel got game. When (NBA star) Ray Allen’s Jesus Shuttleworth plays his father (Denzel Washington) towards the end of He Got Game, the script originally called for Jesus to win 15 to 0. But, Spike changed things around and had them play a real game, and Denzel actually makes a couple baskets against the increasingly (and visibly) agitated Allen.
6)The entire set of Poetic Justice needed some Robitussin. It’s been rumored for years that Janet Jackson asked Tupac Shakur to take an AIDS test before their love scenes in the movie — a rumor that (director) John Singleton denied. If true, perhaps Janet was just overly cautious because of the fact that she caught a bad cold as a result of a make-out scene with Q-Tip.
7)The person in charge of casting Soul Food must have stolen Will Smith’s rolodex. How else can you explain the fact that each of the three female leads (Vanessa Williams, Vivica Fox, and Nia Long) were all love interests of Will on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?
8) McDonald’s doesn’t play. No, seriously. McDonalds does not play! The “McDowell’s” restaurant from Coming to America was actually a Wendy’s that was scheduled to be closed for renovation. Although the production had approval from McDonald’s corporate headquarters, they apparently didn’t pass the word down to their local outlets. On the day the “McDowell’s” sign was erected, the manager of the McDonald’s a half mile up the road arrived with his lawyer and proceeded to take photographs while telling the set dressing crew they were going to be sued for everything they were worth. Sounds like someone needed a coke and a smile.