Tyler Perry gets a workout in his new movie “Alex Cross.” Both physically and emotionally.
The detective thriller, based on the protagonist of many of prolific author James Patterson’s novels, involves rigorous chase and fight scenes. But for Perry, who works out every day, those weren’t too taxing.
The scenes in which Detective Cross faces intense rage and personal tragedy, though, were more grueling for Perry.
“Unfortunately for me I had a reference in losing my mother. That was the quickest thing to tap into,” Perry told us during a phone interview to discuss the new movie, which also stars Rachel Nichols, Matthew Fox, Edward Burns and a perfectly cast Cicely Tyson and comes out Oct. 19. “It was still very raw at the time.”
Perry’s beloved mother, Willie Maxine Perry, died in 2009. The scenes in which his real-life grief informed his character’s on-screen anguish were enervating.
“I really was worn out. Drained,” Perry said. “It did feel like a catharsis.”
To prepare for the role Perry said he rode along with an Atlanta Police Department officer and spent time with an FBI profiler.
“I did a lot of dingy, dirty work,” he said.
One thing he did not do, though, was consult with actor Morgan Freeman, who portrayed Cross in “Along Came a Spider” and “Kiss the Girls,” earlier screen adaptations of Patterson’s work.
“That’s Morgan frickin’ Freeman!” Perry said. “I didn’t want to try to do Tyler Perry doing Morgan Freeman doing Alex Cross.”
Perry, who is always juggling a slew of projects, has just announced a partnership with his good friend Oprah Winfrey. He will create some new television programming for Winfrey’s OWN channel.
“I am super excited about it,” said Perry, who’d eventually like his own network, too. “It’s a perfect fit for us to do this for a time.”
Despite his successes Perry does encounter the occasional controversy. He’s put an end for now to his live “Madea” shows after discovering scalpers were scooping up tickets and reselling them at markups.
“I don’t know how I can tour as long as that’s going on,” he said. “It’s such an offensive thing. A lot of my audience aren’t millionaires. I love to go out. I love to entertain. But if I’ve got people doing illegal things – that means I’m working for the scalper rather than working for the audience.”
“That was a teachable moment,” he said. “I learned about passion.”
He describes her role as pretty minor, and predicts fans will wonder what all the fuss was about when the movie comes out.
“It was work for me,” he said of casting Kardashian. “It’s not about having fun.”
Perry’s movies “Good Deeds” and “Madea’s Witness Protection” were released earlier this year and he’s got more projects lined up including the new shows for Winfrey’s channel. How does he stay so energized?
“Part of it is living in Atlanta,” he said. “I love the people in Atlanta. They tell you the truth. There is no bull. I love having a place where my dogs can run free and just live. I’m not in the Hollywood drain. There are more trees than television shows. It allows me to detox.”
Watch the movie trailer for “Alex Cross” below.