*Writer/Director/Actor Tyler Perry is back in theaters with his sixth film called “The Family That Preys.”
The movie is about two friends, Alice and Charlotte, who find their families immersed in scandal and turmoil.
Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates lead a cast of stars including Sanaa Lathan, Rockmond Dunbar, Taraji P Henson, and Cole Hauser, in a drama that envelopes infidelity and greed in an empowering message – Perry’s modus operandi.
“I think it’s just my ability to relate,” Perry said of garnering a legion of fans. “What I try to do is to completely stay away from things that will cloud it and interfere with what I do and how I do it. Being out on the road for ten years and seeing thousands of people ... they’ll let you know immediately what they like and what they don’t like.”
Though he considers himself in-the-know of what people want to see, Perry is going a little bit outside the box for his latest big screen offering – not referring to the film’s more diverse cast. In the film which can be categorized as a dramedy, Perry takes on some social issues that we’ve not seen in recent productions. That may be because, as he told reporters, the film came out of gloomy point in his life.
“This is a story I wanted to tell. I’ve never once chased money. I’ve never once said I wanted to do something so that it becomes crossover,” he said responding to questions that he is looking to reach a wider (read: whiter) audience. “What I try to do with all of my stories is tell a story. Where I was with this story, I was going through some things where I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue in front of the camera in this business. It was just too negative, too many dark secrets and too much nastiness. I got to the point where I became a prisoner of it all, I didn’t want to leave the house, and I didn’t want to go anywhere. I started writing this script based on that and when I started writing these two characters, I wanted them to be very different, but have the same type of humanity.”
Taraji P. Henson and Tyler Perry in 'The Family That Preys Together'
Perry continued that his fame was starting to get the best of him. He was dealing with a loss of privacy, stalkers, and fans jumping over his fence. He said he was coming to the point where he didn’t want to be in the business because of all the “negativity.”
“I [thought], ‘Is this life for me?’ And the question came, ‘Are you living or are you existing?’ And I started talking to friends about it – Janet [Jackson] and Oprah [Winfrey] – and they said, ‘You can’t lose your life in this. Don’t let this stuff make you crazy.’ And then I said, then I started to focus on the good of it and I said, ‘Wait a minute. This is a pretty amazing life.’ So rather than sitting here waiting for something awful to happen, I should be enjoying every moment. Then around that time I heard Lee Anne Womack singing ‘I Hope You Dance’ and that’s the whole inspiration for the film.”
Perry’s signature inspiration in the film comes from his Christian base, though he says he doesn’t write his films with a Christian audience in mind.
“I write with things like, ‘What would I want to see on film?’ ‘What stories that I want to tell?’ and being Christian, I do want to have someone Christian represented and not the same old stereotype of ‘God’s gonna make a way’, but a real person in mind,” he said. “The great thing about Alfre Woodard’s character Alice was that she was afraid of everything. I wanted to speak to people who think they’re living and think they’re being holy and living a great life, but they’re staying in this little box. Come out of the box. Every day is a gift.”
Perry has realized that every day is a gift for him over and over again. As he explained, being reminded of that, he’d written the script for “The Family That Preys.”
“I think a lot of my success was born out of necessity,” he said. “Like, one network wanted me to compromise and wanted me to change everything in the script, which caused me to go and finance it myself and it worked. The success has been born out of people telling me ‘This is how it’s going to be done’ and me saying, ‘No, I’m going to find another way.’ I wouldn’t have had the ability to do that had I not been through everything I’ve been through as a child, as a teenager, as a young adult, and now as a man. I use all of that to make it through.”
“The Family That Preys” is now playing in theaters nationwide. Next up for Perry, a fun breather with “Madea Goes to Jail” and a cameo in the new “Star Trek” film due out next year. He has also launched a company called 34th Street Films, recruiting new filmmaker talents.
Watch the trailer for 'The Family That Preys Together':