Read our exclusive interview with David and Tamela Mann, who reprise their roles of Mr. Brown and Cora in the upcoming Tyler Perry-directed movie ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family.’ The comedy-drama, which is set to hit theaters on April 22, 2011, follows Madea, played by Perry, as she helps her niece Shirley, portrayed by Loretta Devine, copes with a recent medical scare. Madea uses her trademark humor to reunite her family in Shirley’s time of need, even as a hidden secret is revealed. The Manns discuss with us, among other things, why they decided to appear in another Madea movie, and what it’s like working with Perry.
Shockya (SY): You are reprising your roles of Brown and Cora from previous Madea movies, including ‘Madea Goes to Jail,’ in ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family.’ Why do you find these characters so appealing, and why did you decide to appear in another Madea movie?
Tamela Mann (TM): Well, we were asked, for one!
David Mann (DM): (laughs) Well, that was the good part!
TM: It’s a good part!
DM: It’s the whole feeling that you can relate (to the characters). Everyone has that uncle, that aunt, that Mr. Brown that doesn’t realize that times have changed. Or that Cora, who is the encourager of the family, or that Madea, who is going to be real with everybody, be honest, sometimes brutally honest, that’s going to bring together the whole family.
SY: What is it like working together on the movie? Do you rehearse together before you started filming?
TM: Yeah, we did, we ran our lines together.
DM: We’ve been doing these characters for a long time. So we kind of feed off of each other’s chemistry.
TM: And with Tyler, who is playing Madea. Most of our scenes are with Madea.
DM: And Joe.
SY: Tyler often focuses on serious issues in his movies, as seen in ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family,’ which focuses on a health scare. Madea is often used as the comic relief in Tyler’s films. What is it about Madea that you find funny?
DM: Well, for one thing, you never know what’s going to come out of her mouth.
TM: Or how she’s going to react.
SY: What is Tyler like to work with as a director?
TM: Oh, he’s wonderful. He’s a very kind man. He allows you to develop the character. So we have a lot of fun on the set.
SY: You have both appeared on Tyler’s Show ‘House of Payne,’ How are his directorial efforts different on the show than on the films?
TM: He’s grown so much.
DM: We’re actually from ‘Meet the Browns.’
TM: We’re on ‘Meet the Browns,’ the television show, but we both did a few episodes of ‘House of Payne.’
SY: You have both also appeared in several of the videos of Tyler’s plays, including ‘Diary of a Mad Black Woman.’ Did you prepare differently to appear in the videos, as opposed to the theatrical movies?
DM: They’re both the same roles, you’re just kind of revamping the roles. But of course they were different stories, but you just kind of role with it.
SY: Would you be interested in reprising your roles of Brown and Cora again in future Madea movies?
DM: Definitely, yes!
DM: We’d definitely love to.
SY: What is your favorite part of ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family?’
DM: I think ‘The Maury Show,’ ‘The Maury Povich Show.’
TM: There’s also a scene with Madea and a young boy on there. It was very funny to me, and how she teaches them about respecting their elders.
SY: You two are married in real life.
TM: Yes, it’s funny being married to him.
SY: In the movie, you play father and daughter, however. Is that awkward to be portraying that relationship in the movie?
TM: Well, sometimes it’s kind of hard for David. It’s really not hard for us to play father and daughter for me. But for David sometimes, he’s real touchy-feely. I have to remind him that he’s playing my father, and don’t be touching.
DM: Because I want a kiss sometimes!
TM: All the time!
DM: Well, yeah, all the time!
Written by: Karen Benardello