Alex Cross reboots the character that Morgan Freeman made famous with Kiss the Girls and Along Came A Spider. It also brings a new career path for Tyler Perry, who breaks the shackles of his urban comedy stereotype and takes on a more dramatic, ass-kicking type of role. The results are satisfying, with Perry coming across as a believable badass (my review can be read here.) It’s a fun career turn for him, and one that I hope brings him more action roles to balance out his more urban fare.

Being a longtime fan of his, I was very thrilled to be a part of a team of journalists that were allowed to speak to him at a recent press conference for Alex Cross. Here’s Tyler’s thoughts on his new career turn.

Was it easier for you to focus on just one aspect of production as opposed to many?

What I know about me is that if you can lead, you also have to know how to follow. So in this, I’m working with James Patterson, who created this brilliant character, and Rob Cohen, who’s a great director, so I had the opportunity to learn from both of them. It was about surrender, about allowing me to listen to them and just be the character. It allowed me to go some places I had never gone before so I’m very grateful for that. It gave me an opportunity to just focus in on the character, be the character, experience all of his different levels.

Rob [Cohen] said he envisioned you in playing the part. How did you feel about being stripped down?

When I said yes to it, there were a couple of reasons I said yes to it. One, I was working with James Patterson and Rob Cohen. It has always been easier for me to have a costume and have something to hide behind. I’m always willing to take things on, and if there’s a bit of fear, I’ll challenge myself.

Alex Cross seems like a family man, and then becomes seeped in vengeance. Could you talk about that?

Everyone of us, in life, we have some sort of moment in life that we wish we could have done differently or we wished that we could have a different outcome. And what I did in preparing for those moments is I thought about those things. A lot of it was rooted in past relationships, childhood things, business deals, and I had gone through that I had learn from. There were many times I had to tap into my own experiences that I could learn from so I could very convincingly become that character in those moments. I just had to find a way to tap into it.

Do you have some film ideas that would go up in scale?

I do have some of those ideas, but what I know about being on Alex Cross, and being on that set and being on there, and until I understand and learn more about how they work, I will, but that moment hasn’t come yet.

You did a fine job as a believable badass in this movie. Would we ever see you in another role like this?

It depends, and I’ll tell you why. I really committed to being this character. I spend a lot of time with the Atlanta Police Department, a lot of time with their homicide division and being really involved in some things that I don’t do in my day-to-day life. When you take on something that dark you have to really commit to it and go to some dark places. I would consider it based on how far I have to take my mind, my soul, my body, my spirit into that world. The only way you can really do it properly is to go all-in on it, and that’s not always comfortable.

Can you talk a little about doing the fight sequences, and your accidental elbow of Matthew Fox?

It was a really bad moment. The fight sequences, we practiced, we rehearsed them, and we’re on the cat-walk in the scene in the Michigan Theater, and we’re doing the fighting. I kept feeling, within myself, that he was too close, so I wouldn’t commit all the way to the turn. And Rob is going, ‘I really need you to just go in there and do it.’ I just had major issues cause I didn’t want to hurt Matthew. So here we are, we’re just doing the scene, and finally I just let go, and he spins around, and I grab him because I think he’s going over, and he turns around and says ‘What happened?’ But he was a good sport about it. He didn’t turn around and kick me.

Your own films have a sense of morality to them. Here, Alex goes to some very dark places and his morality seems to be more flexible. Do you feel like your core audience will see this film in the same moral universe in your other films?

No, I think the audience will be very clear that this is different than anything I’ve done before. In being specific about that, my audience is pretty smart. They understand this is an acting role for me. Something that I wanted to do, something that I didn’t show up and write, produce, and direct. This was work for hire for me, so they will take it for what it is.

Do you believe your core audience will take you as this kick-ass action hero, and also the moral ambiguous aspect of Cross?

As far as my audience goes, the great thing about them is that even though there’s an association with me with the character Madea, they have an association with me in Good Deeds and Why Did I Get Married? and were very receptive to it. Now once my audience is made aware of it, we’ll see how receptive they are to this and we’ll go from there, and they’ll be the judge of it. I’m pretty sure, and there will be, a portion of them who will be excited about it. I may lose a lot of the grandmothers who will come out there after church, but I’ll do something for them a little later on. It’s all about evolving and trying something different.

I think in this movie, the ends justify the means. I have a very strong feeling they’ll love it as a movie and not accept it as a moral play or a or moral tale, or as I’ve done before, movies that try to raise consciousness about certain things. I don’t think they’ll accept it as anything other than a really, fun action movie and they’ll be along for the ride.

Alex Cross is in theaters now.

 Tyler Perry Talks About Alex Cross

By philip

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