Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Interview: The Cast Talks About Their Roles in Madea's Witness Protection

Interview: The Cast Talks About Their Roles in Madea's Witness Protection, Written by: Karen Benardello Sometimes the most important lessons in life can come from the most unexpected places. That’s one of the most comedic and enduring aspects of the new Tyler Perry movie ‘Madea’s Witness Protection,’ the fourth film based on one of the screenwriter-director-actor-producer’s plays. The filmmaker’s most well-known, beloved title character is back to not only show another family the true importance of caring for each other, but to also find out for herself what it means to experiment out of her comfort zone. ‘Madea’s Witness Protection’ follows George Needleman (Eugene Levy), the successful CFO of Wall Street investment bank Lockwise Industries, who contends with his frustrated second wife, Kate (Denise Richards), who has come to her limit caring for his senile mother, Barbara (Doris Roberts). They also have to deal with his rebellious teenage daughter from his first marriage, Cindy (Danielle Campbell), and their young son, Howie (Devan Leos), who wishes George was home more often. George gets the shock of his life when he finds out from his co-worker Walter (Tom Arnold) that the company is running a Ponzi scheme, and he’s been set up to take the blame. Brian (Perry), now a federal prosecutor in Atlanta, gets the task of placing the Needlemans in witness protection, after they received threats from the mob. So he decides to move the family in with his aunt Madea and father Joe (both also played by Perry). As Brian works to solve the case, Madea works to straighten the Needlemans out with her trademark tough love. Jake (Romeo Miller), the son of the pastor (John Amos) of Madea’s church, decides to help in the case, after losing the money intended to pay off the church’s mortgage in an investment with Lockwise Industries. The cast of ‘Madea’s Witness Protection,’ including Perry, Levy, Richards, Roberts, Miller, Arnold, Amos and Marla Gibbs, generously took the time to participate in a press conference at Le Parker Meridien hotel in New York. Among other things, they discussed the funniest parts of the movie, what it was like working together and what they learned from Madea. Question (Q): Tyler, do you think it will be hard for audiences to accept you as Alex Cross in ‘Alex Cross’ when it’s released this fall? Tyler Perry (TP): Alex Cross is such a departure for me. Wesley Deeds in ‘Good Deeds’ was the closest character I’ve ever played to Alex Cross. I think people will accept it, just as they accepted ‘Good Deeds.’ Q: Tyler, can you talk about two prominent themes in ‘Madea’s Witness Protection,’ and why you included them? The first theme being why corporations do the things they do, and also, what you drew from your own life and observations, to flush out the racial dynamics between a white and black family. TP: Well, I had a bunch of money with Bernie Madoff, and when he took off…oh no, I’m kidding. (laughs) No, I was having dinner with a friend, and they were saying, and this is how the whole thing started, the best punishment for Bernie Madoff would to have a movie with Madea. I thought man, that is funny. So I started writing the movie, and that’s where the whole process started. I thought, who would be the best person to play this guy? I thought, of course, Eugene Levy, who does an amazing job. (laughs) So that’s where it all started for me. As far as the dynamic of drawing on my own experiences, I drew from my mother. God rest her soul, if we put her in a five star hotel, as we did once, or if you put her on an airplane and put her through security, you would have all of those scenes. Or if you put her at a dinner table with a bunch of white people, you would have a lot of things that we have there. Q: We have followed Madea through all her movies. What would you say she learned this time around on her journey? TP: (laughs) I don’t know if she’s learned anything. What I’m trying to do as I grow as a filmmaker and in life, I want to make sure the character’s growing. This is a classic fish out of water story. She’s a big fish out of water in New York, and so is this family down south in her house. To continue reading this interview, please click here.

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