ReelzChannel recently talked with the prolific entertainer Tyler Perry about his latest movie The Family That Preys.
ReelzChannel: What theme were you going for in this movie?
Perry: You know what I was going for in this film, just live. Enjoy your life. Life is short. You can have all the money in the world, and still won't be happy. You could have nothing and still won't be happy. What you get is a gift, make the best of it and live with it. So, yeah, all of those things are still present, but this one's about just living your life.
RC: This is a departure for you...
Perry: People are saying that. I don't think so, though, because I have kind of like two brands at work. One is the Madea Brown silliness -- you know, where you are having fun and laughing and just being over the top -- and then there's Daddy's Little Girls, Why Did I Get Married, and The Family That Preys. I kind of think they're all in the same line, yeah.
RC: Did you have specific actors in mind when you wrote this?
Perry: Yeah. I was just completely blown away by Sanaa [Lathan]. The thought of her saying yes, and when she did I was like, 'She said, wait a minute, Alfre's [Woodard] doing the movie? I'm in.' So, the two of them together was just good. I didn't have Kathy (Bates) in mind because, you know, what's awful is that I wouldn't allow my mind to even go there, which I should have. Yeah.
RC: You've got to aim high...
Perry: Yeah, once I got Alfre I mean, how much higher can you aim?
RC: What about Robin Givens?
Perry: Robin Givens who was on House of Payne with me -- which is going to syndication on the 22nd of September, which I'm so excited about -- was so cool. She was so cool. I was like, 'I've got to do something with this woman. She's beautiful. She's been around. She's wise and she's working.' So, Robin was a great choice. I wrote the role for her. That was a later role that I added in just because I thought it needed some kind of nemesis there, you know?
RC: There's a rumor that you write the strongest roles for women. How does that feel?
Perry: That's a good thing. That's a good thing. That's an homage. Well, that's me saluting my mother, you know, I just ... we spent a whole lot of time together when I was a kid. So, that means I paid attention.
RC: Did you work on Kathy's southern accent for the movie?
Perry: Not at all, not at all. She came in and fell right into it.
RC: Did you only shoot in Georgia?
Perry: Yeah, this whole movie was shot entirely in Atlanta.
RC: But we see New Orleans and everything else.
Perry: I'm sorry. We did go to New Orleans, my hometown. What am I thinking? So many films. The reason I forgot is because we spent a day there. It was very quick. It was just one day we went down. I didn't want to be there too long because at the time we were shooting there were several other films going. There was a lot of filming going on in New Orleans which I'm really happy about.
RC: How has New Orleans changed since Katrina?
Perry: I don't think anything's changed. I think people are still living the theme of trailers. They're being evicted from those trailers. There are still people trying to find homes. Don't let anybody tell you it's any different because there are still tons of folks, those same folks that were on those rooftops are still displaced.
RC: In this movie you play a blue collar construction worker...
Perry: Yeah, my father was a construction worker.
RC: So, it's something you can relate to...
Perry: Totally. When I was pulling that tape and putting that thing down I knew exactly what I was doing. Man, I could've put that whole wall up there. I knew what I was doing.
RC: Did you recently renovate?
Perry: You know what? I did. I bought a place two years ago that we were moving out of, and I'm building a new place that I move into in two weeks that is amazing.
RC: Is it going to have the same name?
Perry: It is still Tyler Perry Studios. It is 30 acres, 5 sound stages, 200,000 square feet of office, and a 5-acre pond, a walking trail. It's what I want.
RC: There were a lot of witty lines from other movies in this. 'You want some fried green tomatoes?'
Perry: Yeah. Ad-libs, ad-libs. Alfre and Kathy were ad-libbing on some of those things and I kept them because I thought they were great.
RC: How do you do it all [write, direct, produce, act], and is it difficult?
Perry: You know what I did? I took the small role because I really wanted to focus on the directing. I really wanted to watch these people act, and especially I mean, Kathy and Alfre; watch their process, and how they get into it. So, I went to school myself, but it wasn't difficult at all because I had a great team.
RC: Did you learn from them?
Perry: Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Yeah. I think from the first film I started learning from Kimberly Elise because I had never done film, and Cicely Tyson, and Louis Gossett, and now Kathy and Alfre.
RC: Is music a big part of your movies ... is that the case?
Perry: Yeah, I think it's a big part of our lives. So, and I try to write about life. So, I think music would definitely do that.
RC: There was a rumor Jennifer Hudson was tied to this movie...
Perry: I don't even know where it came from. You know, I saw Jennifer on a red carpet somewhere, and she was like, 'We gotta do something,' and I said, 'Yeah we gotta do something. I've got something coming up.' OK, fine. Next thing you know I look on the Internet, and Jennifer Hudson's going to be in the movie. I would love to work with Jennifer so at some point we will.
RC: What's next for Tyler?
Perry: Where do I want to go? Besides vacation? Ya know, I think right now this whole month of great things coming up here in September. So, I'm going to take some time off and just ... I'll work, but I'll take the time and just enjoy myself for a little bit.