Read our exclusive interview with actor Philip Anthony Rodriguez, who stars as Dr. Evans in Tyler Perry’s upcoming movie ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family.’ The comedy-drama, which is being released into theaters by Lionsgate on April 22, 2011, is based on Perry’s 2010 musical play of the same name. The movie follows Madea as she helps her niece Shirley overcome a health scare. Rodriguez discusses with us, among other things, what attracted him to the role and what it was like working with Perry.
Written by: Karen Benardello
Shockya (SY): You’ll next be appearing as Dr. Evans in ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family.’ What attracted you to the role?
Philip Anthony Rodriguez (PAR): I was attracted to the role because of the awesome Tyler Perry! I’ve worked with Tyler Perry before, on one of his other projects, on his ‘Meet the Browns’ TV show. It’s a sitcom on TBS. I started a very good relationship with Alpha Tyler, who is one of the main casting directors. So when this role came up, people thought I would be perfect for it. It was just one of those things where they said, “Hey, look, would you have some fun with us?” I said “Absolutely.” It is always fun working for him. That was one of the main reasons why I wanted to do this project. The opportunity to work on a Tyler Perry movie, you’re always in store for a lot of fun, and you know you’re going to be working in a really cool place with very cool people. They were very welcoming and all that. That was a main reason, and I was glad I was asked to do it. Sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed. We had a great time shooting it.
SY: How was filming ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family’ different from shooting ‘Meet the Browns?”
PAR: Well, shooting the show is really a lot tougher. When you shoot the show, they basically crank out script after script. So when I do an episode, you basically go in early in the morning, you have a couple of rehearsals and blocking on the set. The show is sometimes shot before a live audience, other times it’s not, depending on what the schedule allows for. You go in there and block and rehearse. You have a little food, and later on, you tape some of the scenes and get some notes. There’s some switches in the script sometimes, and then you shoot it and you’re done. You’ve basically shot a whole episode, rehearsed it, blocked it all in one day. You have to be on your toes. There’s a little bit more pressure involved, but once you get used to it, it becomes second nature. That’s a lot different from working on a (movie) set, where it’s over the same of a few weeks, if not a few months. If you mess up, you get to say cut, or the director gets to say cut, and you get to try it all over again, and do it again. You don’t have the luxury of working on the TV show like that. A sitcom can be pretty, pretty pressured.
SY: The movie is based on the play of the same name. Did you see the play before you began shooting the movie?
PAR: You know, I have not. I only read the script, and saw a portion of the actual live play. It’s pretty much the same. It’s a pretty good transition from play to screen. But what I did get from it is that definitely it’s one of his most popular plays. It’s bound to be one of his most popular movies because of the humor, the storyline and of course, the usual methods and the message that Tyler puts out in some of his movies and stuff. Family, and the importance of it, and it’s all done with humor, affection and genuine love between family members, and how family comes together in very difficult times. It’s got everything. I think that’s why it’s one of his most popular plays. It was a no brainer that it was going to be his next big movie project transferred to the stage.
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