Wesley Snipes on 'Coming 2 America' and Mahershala Ali Playing 'Blade'

Though revolutionary in his own right, Black Panther was not Marvel’s first Black superhero to make it to the big screen. In the late ’90s, years before Iron Man would launch the MCU as we know it, Wesley Snipes starred as the half-human/half-vampire Daywalker in a trilogy of Blade movies.

“The irony of the whole thing is that when I chose to do the film, the first Blade, most of the representation I had at the time suggested I shouldn’t do it. [They] were absolutely against me taking on the role,” Snipes tells ET’s Nischelle Turner. “And now look what it turned out to be. Who knew? But we ain’t done yet.”

More than 20 years later, Blade is being rebooted by Marvel Studios with Mahershala Ali taking up the mantle to rid the universe of bloodsuckers and motherf**kers trying to ice-skate uphill. “I’m one thousand percent supportive of it. I think it’s great. Go for it, my man,” Snipes says of his casting, adding that he’s excited to see what Ali will do with the character.

Little is known about this iteration except that Ali will star and Watchmen writer Stacy Osei-Kuffour is scripting. If Snipes will be brought into the fold in another role — or at least to make a much-requested cameo — he doesn’t appear to have gotten the call yet, but he’s open to it.

“You never know. Under the right circumstances, I’m open to play with everybody,” he says. “I know that people associate me with that role. The Daywalker community out there is a part of the Daywalker clique and our global community identifies with a little bit of that world and the new definition of Daywalkers, these global hyphenated multitalented individuals capable doing more things at one time — skill masters, as we call them. So, we gon’ keep going, we gon’ keep bringing.”

In the meantime, Snipes joins another iconic franchise in Coming 2 America, a sequel to 1988’s Coming to America that sees Eddie Murphy reprise his role as Prince Akeem and Arsenio Hall as his trusty sidekick, Semmi. Snipes’ casting was three decades in the making, as he auditioned to be in the first movie.

“I made it to the callbacks, and I think I was, like, one of three choices. In my recollection, it was Eriq La Salle and Mario Van Peebles. And Eriq La Salle won the role.” Snipes recalls with a laugh, “I pretty much hated him ever since, even though we were good friends. But you keep your enemies close but your friends closer. “

In Coming 2 America, Snipes plays General Izzi, a challenger to Akeem’s throne with a penchant for making an entrance via choreographed dance numbers. The movie hails from Craig Brewer, and though he’d directed Murphy and Snipes together in 2019’s Dolemite Is My Name, the actor was not sure if he’d get the invite to Zamunda.

“I was the last chick at the bar, waiting for Craig Brewer to come by. And I was hoping I could get a ride home. Like, ‘Hey, big fella. I hear you’re making a movie,'” Snipes jokes. “Finally, at the screening of Dolemite Is My Name, Craig pulled me off to the side and said, ‘Hey man, let’s do it again.’ And I was like,’ Yes! Yes! What’s the character?’ Dolemite was my audition for this role.”

For Snipes, it was a chance to let his comedy flag fully fly. Though he may be better known for dramas and superhero movies, he remembers his early days performing with friends was built around making each other laugh. “And if we made a mistake, oh my god, we’d get razzed for hours. Hours! Called all kinds of names. ‘You’re terrible. Never think about acting again. Quit. Hang it up,'” he recalls. “So, it’s my nature. It’s actually the most comfortable space for me out of all of them. But I just never had a chance to do much of it.”

Coming 2 America streams exclusively on Prime Video on March 5.

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