In Tyler Perry's latest concoction "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," he adopts a script flow that nearly resembles a variety show: a serious story is interjected with comedy bits - from his Madea character, no less - a church sermon and a series of musical numbers.
It's the latter that gives room for R&B superstar Mary J. Blige to lend her singing and acting talents to the role of Tanya, bartender and friend to leading lady Taraji P. Henson as April.
"Acting is not my first profession, so I had to find who Tanya was. I used Mary to turn Tanya into a singer. I had to get out of my own way. It was an amazing experience to be out of what Mary J. Blige, the singer, is and to be embraced by everyone. No matter how many times we had to do it, it was a blessing," Blige said during a press conference yesterday (Sept. 9) in New York.
The singer's only other acting credits include bit parts in television shows like "Ghost Whisperer," "Strong Medicine" and "The Jamie Foxx Show." The challenge in this film is creating a whole new character, Blige said. It was her own background history that informed her damaged, yet strongwilled, friend role. "Back in the days, I really didn't really care if I was by myself for the rest of my life. And that's what Tanya [is]," Blige continued. "I was always a maternal figure. But Mary now is more of a maternal figure than Mary then. But... I need time by myself."
Blige will be releasing the album "Stronger" around Thanksgiving this year, with the title track and single currently featured in the LeBron James documentary "More Than a Game." The music inspired by that film will get a release on Sept. 29 and features other acts like Eminem, T.I., Kanye West and Soulja Boy.
As for Perry's future, he said that he's already eyeing future projects like another play "Laugh to Keep from Crying" (due Oct. 4, "I haven't written a word yet.") and another sequel "Why Did I Get Married Too," to be released in April. He also commented on his attachment to adapting "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf," a poem-play featuring 20 African-American women speaking on the issues they face in modern society.
"I'm writing it now. Don't worry, Madea won't be in it," Perry laughs. "For people who have read the play, you know there's no story there." So Perry has started writing it for each woman to have her own story, and "all of their lives cross. It's sort of like 'Crash.' They're all on a collision course to meet each other. In the middle of the movie, one of the women has just started a For Colored Girls center, where women go through this 12-step program of healing from relationships and everything. So a lot of the poems happen in this center, when all of these women come together."
"The cast is going to blow people away. It is the most incredible cast of women of color that has ever been assembled in film. Ever. It's a dream cast," Perry hints.
"Tyler, can I be in it?" Blige jokingly cooed next to him.
Meanwhile, Henson and Perry nearly entered into a snit-fit, albeit a loving one, when the director brought up the fact that the actress ad-libbed a kiss with handsome co-star Adam Rodriguez, a move that wasn't in the script. "The kiss went on and on and on... They ad-lipped," Perry laughed.
"Snitch!" Henson playfully snarled. "It was a vulnerable scene... [My character] needed human touch..."
Reverend Marvin Winans, who essentially plays himself in the film, couldn't help but to chime in: "I'm a pastor, and I support that."