Tyler Perry and his cast discuss I Can Do Bad All By Myself at a press conference in New York City.
Tyler Perry on how the film version differs from the stage play.
The only thing this movie has in common with the play is the title and Madea. This is Madea’s first play, the first time I ever played her on stage. I was scared to death that night; I had rehearsed all month without ever putting the costume on. On opening night, I put the makeup on, looked at myself and thought “Oh my god, what have I gotten myself into?” [Laughs] There’s nothing like a live performance; I did 300 live shows a year for ten years and I learned a great deal about what would work and what wouldn’t work. There’s nothing like that immediate give-and-take you get from an audience.
Taraji P. Henson on getting into character
My character, April, is very different from who I am. I’m a mother, I’m a nurturer and I understand what it is to love unconditionally. I hated her in the beginning, but I’m the type of actress that doesn’t judge my characters. My job is to breath life and truth into them. Hopefully if I live her truth, the audience won’t judge her, they’ll receive her. For me, the message of the movie is “If you’re not loving, you’re not living.”
Adam Rodriguez on love
“Love is love” is the message of the movie. Love comes in a lot of different forms and you’d be a fool to deny it because it doesn’t come in the form you expect for it to be. That goes both ways. Looking at my character Sandino, you think he has nothing to offer and yet he had the ability to come and reshape these people’s lives and make something beautiful because he had love.
Tyler Perry on writing an interracial romance
I’m not thinking about race a person is, I’m just writing a story. I thought Adam and Taraji would be a good look for each other. I had the same issues with the first two movies, where J. Anthony Brown and Tom Joyner were going off because all of my heroes seemed to be light-skinned. It wasn’t anything I was thinking about, it just happened! So I cast some dark-skinned heroes in my next few movies. I’ll take this into consideration for the future: I’ll make sure the black woman finds a black man. [Laughs]
Brian White on his big fight scene with Adam Rodriguez
I almost broke my nose in that fight. It was supposed to be one punch and Adam got a little too into it and threw like nine of them. But stuff heals. I was actually looking forward to getting my butt kicked to depict that there are consequences for negative actions. Young men out there need to know that if you do wrong, there are consequences.
Mary J. Blige on the challenge of acting for the first time
Acting is not my first profession so for me it was a minute where I had to get out of my own way and let my character shine. It was an amazing experience to be out of what Mary J. Blige the singer is and to be embraced and supported by everyone.
Hope Olaidé Wilson on performing her first major big-screen role
I think I grew throughout this entire experience, getting to play this character from a background you never really hear about. I’m speaking on behalf of girls who have had to go through molestation. It was challenging-you want to get it right, you don’t want to make it seem contrived. You want to be as honest as possible.
Gladys Knight on her first exposure to Tyler Perry
My brother Bubba, who is one of the Pips, kept raving about this Tyler Perry guy. He finally brought home one of his DVDs and I watched and said myself, “Madea is kind of raw and raunchy.” The more I got into it though, I saw his plan. He uses Madea to soften us up. Laughter is a healing factor; it relaxes you and makes you open up to so many things. One link that has been in everything Tyler has done is family. And the thing that impressed me most was when I walked in his studio to shoot the movie, I felt like part of a family. Tyler portrays African-Americans as we are. I love Madea for that reason. The way she relates to the kids in this movie is something people need to see more often. Kids have to have somebody lead them and guide them and we’re afraid of them. They’re controlling everything. We’ve gotta step up to the plate and Tyler is doing that right now, giving us the courage and the idea to go ahead and teach our children like they should be taught.
Tyler Perry on allowing the actors to ad-lib
There’s this one scene where Taraji and Adam are sitting on the sofa. We were shooting the scene and Taraji leans over and she starts to kiss Adam, but it wasn’t in the script. So I’m sitting at the monitor waiting to see how long it was going to last. It went on and on and I sat there waiting for them to finish. It was a long, long, long kiss. So I finally said “Cut” and then asked “What the hell was that?” Taraji was like what “It’s in the script!” And I’m like “Show it to me!” So they had an ad-lib-actually it was an ad-lip! [Laughs]
Taraji: If I can defend myself, let me say that it was a very tragic moment for April. I’m the type of actress that once I go, I’m gone. We are conditioned to ignore that voice we have [telling us to pull back] and in acting I rely on that a lot. It frees you and you get the most honest performance because you have an instinct and you act on it. At your most vulnerable point, sometimes you need human touch. April looked into Sandino’s eyes and he was warm and comforting and she needed that. Love was something very scary for her.
The entire cast on their upcoming projects
Taraji: I’m delirious because I’ve been in Beijing the past two months for Kung Fu Kid, the remake of The Karate Kid with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. That kid is a rock star-he’s going to be huge. I’ve wrapped a film here in New York with Tina Fey and Steve Carell called Date Night.
Adam: I’m doing an arc on Ugly Betty and will have a chance to do some comedy which I’m exited about. I’m also finishing up my last season on CSI: Miami-my episodes will be spread out throughout the season. Over the summer, I did an indie movie called Caught in the Crossfire with Chris Klein and 50 Cent. We’ll see how that turns out.
Mary: I have an album coming out called Stronger. And the song “Stronger” is featured in the LeBron James documentary More than a Game.
Brian: I’ve got a new series on TNT called Men of a Certain Age with Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher. I also work with two charities, Helping Hands and a regional essay contest called Words Matter Now. And the next movie is The Cabin in the Woods, due out in February.
Hope: I have a couple of film projects in the works, but nothing finalized. I will be on an episode of [the CBS show] Cold Case on October 18.
Gladys: I have so many things on my plate. I’m getting ready to go back in the studio to record more music and I’m getting ready to go to Europe for two months for my farewell tour. Every time I go to Europe its like six or seven years before I’m back over there and we shouldn’t take time for granted.
Tyler: I just wrapped Why Did I Get Married Too, which comes out in April. I can’t wait for you guys to see it because Janet [Jackson] was going through all that stuff with Michael at the time. She needed to work and she brought everything she had into the film. She has some scenes in there I can’t wait for you guys to see. Then I start For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. Don’t worry, there will be no Madea in it. I really embraced the material; as you know, there’s no story, it’s all different vignettes. But what I did is each woman has their own story and their lives cross, kind of like Crash. Halfway through the movie, one of the women starts a For Colored Girls center where women go through a 12-step program for healing. So a lot of the poems happen at the center when all of the women come together. The cast is going to blow people away; it’s the most incredible cast of women of color that has ever been assembled. It’s sixteen women, sixteen major roles and the five women I’ve spoken to said yes. I can’t wait to tell you who they are.
I Can Do Bad All By Myself opens in theaters nationwide tomorrow.