For fans of Coming to America, one of the biggest joys of Craig Brewer’s recently released sequel, Coming 2 America, was seeing the multiple nostalgic nods to the original hit. Actress Vanessa Bell Calloway, last seen hopping on one foot as Eddie Murphy’s bride-to-be, was still hopping. Peaches and Sugar Cube, two rappers who made a brief yet memorable club appearance 33 years ago, re-emerged here for the climax. But with Eriq La Salle not returning to portray the Soul Glo heir Darryl Jenks, one planned scene never made it past the ideation stage.
“I’m sorry that Eriq didn’t want to take part in the sequel, because we had a plan for him,” the film’s co-writer David Sheffield tells Rolling Stone. “We wanted to do a new commercial that would be seen in the background somewhere in a scene, and it was gonna be called ‘Soul Gro.’ The joke was going to be that Eriq is now selling a baldness cure and he was also a customer. The ad called for Eriq to be bald and for hair to sprout out of his head magically.”
“Soul Gro was going to be a commercial that was on TV that the Junsons were watching,” adds director Craig Brewer. “It was just going to be a very quick joke where Darryl would come out and he would have his curly wig, but then he would take it off and he would be bald. It’d be like a ‘Do you remember me?’ kind of thing and then he would use Soul Gro to make his hair grow. But it didn’t work out.”
La Salle, who spoke about his role and its legacy to Rolling Stone for our oral history of Soul Glo, is currently executive-producing the TV show Chicago P.D. He’s also working on a new thriller book called Laws of Annihilation, about detectives investigating high-profile serial killers.
“I’m doing the biggest job I’ve ever done as far as responsibility goes. It was really important for me to do this show correctly. There are stories we do that you say, ‘We can’t fuck around, this has to be done right,’” La Salle says. “When they came to me and said, ‘Can you do this [movie]?’ I said, ‘I don’t know where I’m going to create time.’”
Soul Glo does make a few subtle appearances in the film, with the jingle being reworked during Murphy’s coital flashback with Leslie Jones, and the poster and product still appearing in the My-T-Sharp barbershop. Wesley Snipes, Jones and Tracy Morgan also reimagined the original ad while promoting the new film.
“I’ve always been more focused on the present and the future than the past,” La Salle admits. “I’m very proud of having been in an iconic film and what this has turned out to be. You respect and appreciate it for what it is, but as far as trying to rearrange or compromise the schedule that I’m currently doing, there simply was just not enough time in the day.”