That Zamundan Palace in ‘Coming 2 America’ Is Rapper Rick Ross’ Real-Life House
Eddie Murphy's return as Prince Akeem Joffer on Coming 2 America (now streamed on Prime Video) brings the comedy franchise back to the fictional Zamunda, home to the royal family and their future heirs.
Much of the Zamunda backdrop was recreated in Georgia. The palace was brought to life courtesy of rapper Rick Ross, who opened the doors to his estate on the outskirts of Atlanta for the film's production team.
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Says production designer Jefferson Sage, "Our big problem was, where can we find a house that offers the possibilities of a very lavish palace?"
Sage and his team explored several locations before focusing on the Ross estate, which was to serve as the bones of the lush royal palace.
The 45,000-square-foot mansion in Fayetteville, Georgia sits on 235 acres and was previously owned by boxer Evander Holyfield. With 12 bedrooms and a dining room for up to 100 people, scale director Craig Brewer and Sage were looking.
"The entrance foyer with the large two-story interior and the double-winding staircase was perfect," says Sage. “That being said, there were two beautiful large rooms with huge windows and 18 foot ceilings. We used five key areas that we made Zamunda out of. "
These rooms were remodeled for the main sets of the movie, including the king's bedroom and dining room. The master bedroom in the palace was Ross' own. The rapper says that 1988's Coming to America might be his all-time favorite, and that he was happy to see Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall walking around his mansion.
"They changed the wallpaper in the dining room, so I asked them to leave it up there," laughs Ross. “You also created this huge dining table for a dining scene with 50 to 60 seats and left that as a gift for me. It's humorous. "
Set designer Douglas A. Mowat deserves credit for improving Ross' real world spaces. To transform the master bedroom, he used the existing color - warm white - but brought in blue and silver to "make the room pop and add dimension". Mowat took the lead by adding silver leaf to the canopy over the bed.
Sage was careful to honor the original film by keeping a similar color palette, "but we changed them a little," he says. "We took the bones from the original set with the idea that they would be regularly refurbished and upgraded."
Elsewhere, Sage built the ballroom and throne room on top of external sound stages, but the architecture of the mansion served as the basis for the design. “We did this so it always felt like the same building,” adds Sage.
The Ross mansion had a white interior with a gold ceiling paneling. So when it came to these exterior sets, Sage accented and embellished gold leaves. "We used so much gold leaf that we bought the country's supply for at least two months," he cracks.
He relied on visual effects to enhance the film's silhouette. During one sequence, a bell of the bell tower rings, and while the actual set was small, Brewer and Sage slipped the shot into a breathtaking view of the palace and residence of Zamundan. "That was our moment to sell the place as a bit of fantasy and show where they live and to bring out the fairytale quality of everything," says Sage.
Creating the legendary My-T-Sharp hair salon for a sequence was Sages favorite. He looked for all the information about the original set created by Richard Macdonald. He researched and studied the pictures on the wall and delved into the signed photos of the baseball stars and boxers. Sage adds, “We went to great lengths to find as much as possible, and we got almost everything. The feeling of going back to this set is a connection to the original and brings the two films together. "
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