In moviemaking circles, February is swiftly becoming known as Tyler Perry month. Perry's first two theatrical releases, 2006's Madea's Family Reunion and 2005's Diary of a Mad Black Woman -- both released in February -- so thoroughly dominated the box office in their opening weekends that other studios are now wary of pitting their movies against the Tyler Perry juggernaut.
His latest project, Daddy's Little Girls, presents a test of sorts for the young filmmaker. In addition to possessing a more serious tone than his previous efforts, it's also the first of Perry's movies not to feature his signature character, Madea.
Having just finished a nationwide tour for his stage play Madea Goes to Jail, Perry was eager to take time off from acting. "I had done 300 performances of Madea Goes to Jail," says Perry. "I'd done two movies and promoted two movies -- all in an eighteen month period -- and I needed a break."
His version of a "break" means merely writing and directing the film. Daddy's Little Girls marks Perry's second turn in the director's chair, and he welcomed the chance to showcase some of his new skills. "Madea's Family Reunion was the worst directing -- I'll say it first hand," says Perry. "I think that (Daddy's Little Girls) was my beginning because I had an opportunity to understand that 'Oh, wait a minute. You're supposed to do something with the camera here.'"
Perry adds: "I want the camera to be in the room and let that be my eyes. I'm taking more chances with the camera and doing different things. It's fun."
Billed as a romantic drama, Daddy's Little Girls tells the story of Monty (Idris Elba), a hardworking single father who enlists the help of an uptight, high-powered attorney (Gabrielle Union) in an effort to obtain custody of his three daughters. Despite a rocky beginning to their relationship, love eventually blossoms between the two opposites.
Like Perry's other movies, the inspiration for the characters came from people in his own life. "I have a friend who was working for me and he was always on the phone and I was like, 'Who is he talking to all the time?'" says Perry. "I found out it was his children -- he has these three beautiful daughters. So he was my muse for Monty."
"I feel like fatherhood is what I'm supposed to be talking about right now," he adds.
Having already enjoyed tremendous success in a variety of media and with many, many more projects in the pipeline, Perry is well on his way toward becoming a one-man conglomerate. He doesn't fret about the increased media scrutiny brought about by his burgeoning fame, however. "It doesn't bother me," says Perry. "I live a couple houses down from Jennifer Aniston. That annoys me because of all the paparazzi. But other than that, I'm pretty good about it."
Despite their close proximity, Perry has yet to meet the tabloid queen Aniston. "I've never seen her," he says. "She almost ran over my maid once coming down the hill in her Range Rover, but that's about it."
Daddy's Little Girls opens nationwide on February 14th, 2007.
Check out reelz.com's Daddy's Little Girls page for clips from the movie and more.