Following Black Panther‘s record-breaking opening weekend, you’d figure the cast and crew would have plenty to celebrate today. But it was while shooting Marvel’s megahit in Atlanta almost exactly one year ago that Team Panther found some “most amusing” ways to entertain themselves. Last March, Lupita Nyong’o posted photos of an epic Coming to America-themed party she threw to celebrate her birthday and those of co-stars Danai Gurira and Daniel Kaluuya, which immediately went viral.
The connection made perfect sense, given both films’ prominently luxurious, fictitious African kingdoms: Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem journeyed from Zamunda to Queens in the 1988 comedy classic, while Chadwick Boseman‘s T’Challa becomes the new King of Wakanda in the new standalone superhero entry. Coming to America has also been repeatedly referenced by fans on social media in connection with the popular #BlackPantherSoLit hashtag.
Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Star Wars) and friends filled us in on the internet-winning event (watch above).
“Danai’s birthday [Feb. 14], mine [March 1], and Daniel Kaluuya’s [Feb. 24] are all very close together, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we threw a joint party?'” Nyong’o told us. “And then we were thinking about a theme, and my assistant said, ‘What about Coming to America?’ And I was like, ‘Yes! Wakandans in Zamunda!’
“It was perfect because we were already in the mode of Afro-futurism and whatnot in making this movie.”
Or as Kaluuya, who was joined by Winston Duke, put it, “It was lit.”
All the more impressive: The cast explained how Ruth Carter, Black Panther‘s twice-Oscar-nominated costume designer (Malcolm X, Amistad), designed their party wear in “her free time.”
Explained Nyong’o: “I thought she was going to just pull stuff that she wasn’t using in the movie. But they made our costumes for the party. And they were spot-on!”
Boseman, however, went the extra mile, to dress as one of Arsenio Hall’s other characters, Rev. Brown. “Chadwick actually went to a thrift store and bought his costume,” Nyong’o said. “So he’s got to get the props.”
Black Panther is in theaters now.
Watch the cast explain why it’s Marvel’s most political movie yet:
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