Exclusive: Tyler Perry Talks Good Deeds
Exclusive: Tyler Perry Talks ‘Good Deeds’
By Wilson Morales
February 17, 2012
After 11 films, including the Madea and non-Madea films, producer-writer-director-actor Tyler Perry is venturing into a new platform, his first romantic drama with him in the lead role in ‘Tyler Perry’s ‘Good Deeds.’
Perry plays businessman Wesley Deeds is jolted out of his scripted life when he meets Lindsey (played by Thandie Newton), a single mother who works on the cleaning crew in his office building.
For Perry, the film gives him to try something new while working with familiars faces we have seen in his films before (Thandie Newton, Gabrielle Union, Brian White, and Phylicia Rashad). Also cast in the film are Rebecca Romijn, Jamie Kennedy, Eddie Cibrian, Beverly Johnson, and Jordenn Thompson.
After releasing one film (‘Madea’s Big Happy Family’) in 2011, which broke a streak of releasing multiple films for four straight years, Perry’s name will making a splash on the big screen throughout this year. His next film, ‘The Marriage Counselor’ will be released on July 27 and marks the first time after 11 films that a Tyler Perry film will be released in during the summer.
Later in the year, ‘I, Alex Cross’ will be released on October 27. It’s his second non-produced, non-directed, non-written film that he will appear in since making a cameo in 2009’s ‘Star Trek,’ but ‘Cross’ features him in a starring role.
Sometime in the fall, Perry will reprise his signature role as Madea in ‘Madea’s Witness Protection,’ which stars Eugene Levy, Romeo Miller, and Denise Richards. It’s also the first Madea film not adapted from a play.
On top of the films, Perry continues to do well with TV programs, including his latest TV series ‘For Better or Worse,’ and there are rumors that he’s set to launch a cable TV channel called Tyler TV.
Blackfilm.com had a chance to talk exclusively with Mr. Perry about ‘Good Deeds’ and his upcoming projects.
Why a romantic drama?
Tyler Perry: Whatever comes up is what I want to write about. This is where I wanted to labor a little bit.
This is your first non-Madea film as a lead actor and of all the things that you do, one area that’s rarely discussed is your acting skills. Was playing this role a challenge for you?
TP: It wasn’t a challenge as much as it was a fear of just letting go and just doing it. I prefer to have a costume. I prefer to have something to hide behind. It’s much more comfortable. You give me a fat suit and an old woman or old man to play and I’m comfortable because I’m hiding. This character in ‘Good Deeds’ is very close to who I am so I felt quite a bit exposed.
Most of the cast are people you have worked with before. What was thought process behind that? Why not bring introduce a batch of fresh faces?
TP: The only problem with breaking in new talent is that they are new talent. I love giving people a chance and I love fighting for the underdog but every now and then there are roles that comes along where you have to have some stellar performers to hold it up. I wanted people that I know. Brian (White) is fearless. Phylicia (Rashad) is unbelievable as an actor. You have Thandie (Newton) who can do many things. She played Condoleezza Rice in ‘W’ so convincingly, it blew my mind. With Gabrielle Union, Rebecca Romijn, and Jamie Kennedy, it’s a well rounded cast.
This is also your first film with a new production team (producers Paul Hall and Ozzie Areu ). Did you notice any differences?
TP: Yes, absolutely. There are a lot of differences. It’s almost like starting all over, starting from scratch. You have to have people learn your way. I’ve been very fortunate to have good teams around me.
This film deals with two sorts of classes, the privileged and the homeless. Did you do any research on exploring these lifestyles?
TP: Yes. Living my life. I’ve been homeless and living in the streets. I grew up poor and now to have this part of my life where I’m able to live pretty well, I was able to draw from both experiences. The difference between the two is extreme but the great thing about it is my life and the gift that God has given me, I’ve been able to walk in both places so it’s fantastic to be able to draw from both of those experiences.
What was the hardest scene to shoot?
TP: Probably the airport scene and saying goodbye to mother because Phylicia (Rashad) looks a lot like my mother. That’s why I asked her to do it. Not only does she have amazing talent but the two of them could have been sisters when my mother was healthy. That was emotional for me.
There’s another scene where you’re riding a motorcycle. Was that you or a stunt double?
TP: That’s absolutely me. There are moments where I am using a double. When we are going across the San Francisco Bridge, that was a double, but that was me in the close up shots. I’m definitely riding.
What sets ‘Good Deeds’ apart from your other non-Madea films?
TP: I think the story is told and the way it’s dialed in, there’s nothing here that you will be able to predict. There are some things that unfold very well. It’s very sweet and special story.
The music is filled with a mixture of sounds and familiar songs. Why choose those tunes?
TP: When I thought about the character Wesley Deeds and the things he had been through, that’s the music in my iPod. He’s playing my iPod. I go from Tupac to Richard Marx’s ‘Right Here Waiting’ and Cassandra Wilson’s rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time.’ I’m all over the place when it comes to music.
Is there a message with ‘Good Deeds’?
TP: Yes. The message is that you have one life to live and you have to live it the best you can. Wesley Deeds has lived the life that everyone has told him to live. He never did anything he wanted to do and here comes this woman who’s not privileged and has no pedigree. She has a life that’s tough and hard but she lives in freedom. She teaches him how to be free.
From producing, directing, writing, and acting, which do you find more challenging?
TP: It depends on the challenge, Sometimes the writing is the most challenging because I’m always trying to push myself to the next level and go a little higher. That could be the biggest challenge.
How do you balance the comedy and drama without losing focus of the message?
TP: I just tell the story. Nine times out of ten, I don’t even write comedy. It just shows up in the film and on the day. I think this film strikes the right chord and has the right balance and I’m pretty excited about that.
‘We The Peeples,’ which was produced by your company, has been slated for a 2013 release. Why the long delay?
TP: We’re trying to find the perfect slot for it. It’s not a movie that I want them to just dump. I want them to put in a lot of attention and money into it just as writer-director Tina Chism did and I’m very proud of her for that.
Why choose ‘Madea’s Witness Protection’ as the next Madea film?
TP: I just wanted to do something different and show a different side of Madea. I want to show a rich Jewish family that has to go into the witness protection program and they have to move in with her. To have her go and live in their shoes is hysterical.
How physically challenging was shooting ‘Alex Cross’?
TP: Definitely, the most physically work I’ve done on and off screen. The prep time that I put into it was also challenging and the amount of hours it took to shoot it.
Do you ever time to watch other films?
TP: I don’t when I do, it’s something that’s random because I try to watch things that are far away from what I write or what stories I tell so I can get some encouragement or inspiration. I’m a big sci-fi guy.
Is there a possibility of coming back to the Star Trek sequel and reprising your role as Admiral Barnett?
TP: Not possible, but there are has been some talks. Because of my schedule, I just don’t see how I can work it out. With my films, the television shows, and now my own network, my time is getting tighter and tighter.
How’s ‘For Better or Worse’ doing?
TP: It’s going great. It did amazing numbers and TBS has just ordered 35 more episodes. We’re pretty excited about that.
‘Good Deeds’ opens nationwide on Feb.24
Clip #1 – A Little Help