A Film that blends Perry’s distinctive humor with elements of horror – a hilarious culture clash between generations.
Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween heralds a fresh turn in the Tyler Perry/Madea franchise: a movie that blends Perry’s distinctive humor with elements of horror.
Since her big-screen introduction in Tyler Perry’s 2005 debut feature, Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman , unstoppable matriarch Mabel “Madea” Simmons has sparked a multimillion-dollar film franchise and established Perry as the founder of an entertainment empire that also extends to television, publishing and live theater.
With a fervent following that began with her appearances in a series of Perry’s stage plays, Madea has gone to jail, survived a family reunion, celebrated Christmas and more in a wildly popular series of groundbreaking movies.
While Perry has showcased his most popular creation in more than a dozen raucous and emotional stage and screen comedies, he never intended to cast her in a Halloween film.
“Ghosts and goblins — that’s just not my thing,” says the director, producer, writer and star of the blockbuster franchise.
“Then Lionsgate called me and said, ‘In his film Top Five , Chris Rock made a joke about a movie called Boo! A Madea Halloween . Have you ever thought about doing a Halloween movie?’”
Before committing to the concept, Perry knew he had to create a story that worked for him as a filmmaker, and for Madea as a character.
“So I came up with an idea I thought would be hysterical and wouldn’t take Madea too far out of her lane,” he says. “This is not your typical Halloween movie — there are so many pee-your-pants moments. Anyone who sees this movie should bring Depends.”
As the film begins, divorced dad Brian (played by Perry) must leave his rebellious teen daughter Tiffany home alone on Halloween. He enlists his aunt Madea, Uncle Joe (both also played by Perry), and friends Hattie and Aunt Bam to keep an eye on her. Determined to meet her girlfriends at a nearby frat party, Tiffany tricks her four gullible chaperones with a frighteningly realistic ghost story that convinces them to stay in their rooms so she can sneak out. All hell and hilarity break loose when Madea, Hattie and Aunt Bam crash the party to bring their baby girl home. And when the women call the cops to break up the Halloween rager, the brothers of Beta Psi Alpha dress as ghosts and ghouls to terrorize them. But of course, the boys soon learn that they are messing with the wrong woman.
“This is a whole new side of Madea because audiences don’t think of her as someone who gets scared,” says Perry. “Watching Madea running from ghosts had everyone on set cracking up. They chase her right into a church — a place she swore she’d never go unless they had a smoking section!”
As always, Madea makes herself the center of the action with her outrageously outspoken attitude and unconventional take on family values, but the film’s core drama is centered on the conflict between Madea’s straight-laced lawyer nephew Brian and his 17-year-old daughter Tiffany, played by “The X Factor” finalist Diamond White.
Her parents’ split caused Tiffany to lose respect for her dad, who’s still learning how to be a single parent. “She’s a typical teenager going through growing pains,” according to Perry. “She finds herself in some really hot water and it takes Madea to straighten her out.”
Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween marks the first film in which fan favorites Hattie, Aunt Bam and Madea all team up for a wild and weird adventure, tracking down Tiffany while fending off killers, paranormal poltergeists and misbehaving teens.
“Putting these three characters together is just a triangle of laughs that does not stop,” says Perry. Aunt Bam, played by Cassi Davis ( Madea’s Neighbors from Hell , Madea’s Big Happy Family ) is Madea’s guileless, pot-smoking cousin. “Aunt Bam is recovering from hip surgery,” explains Davis.
“She spends much of the movie flashing her medical marijuana card and swiping candy from the neighborhood kids — her favorite Halloween activity.”
The film, she says, is a hilarious culture clash between generations. “It’s youth versus old school,” says Davis. “Sure, they have time on their side, but wisdom will win every time. So young people — let’s give it up and turn up!” Played by Patrice Lovely (“Love Thy Neighbor”), Hattie is full of what the actress calls “constructive criticism.” “She gives good advice,” says Lovely.
“People don’t take it, but she keeps giving it anyway.” Lovely says audiences will be drawn to a Halloween film that combines scares with family-friendly humor.
“Laughter is good medicine and we put it to effective use in this film,” she says. “There’s so much gut-busting humor that people are going to be healed. I laughed my way through the entire script, thinking ‘There must be something wrong with this man for his mind to be able to produce this kind of humor.’”
Perry’s renowned talent for improvisation infected the entire cast, inspiring outbursts of uncontrollable laughter and retakes during shooting. Davis sees Perry’s improv less as being less about acting and more about experiencing the situation through his character’s eyes.
“When he goes off script, he’s not so much ad-libbing as much he is staying true to Madea, Joe or Brian in that moment,” she explains. “He knows these characters so well. We just follow his lead.” Maintaining a straight face was particularly challenging for White, who had to perform with multiple Tyler Perrys.
“There’s a hilarious scene where Tyler plays both Brian and Madea,” she remembers. “It was almost impossible not to break character and ruin it.” Bella Thorne ( Blended ; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day ), who plays Tiffany’s party-girl friend Rain, was thrilled that Perry was open to suggestions when it came to her interpretation of the role. “He said, ‘Bella, you can do whatever you want,” she recalls. “‘If I love it, amazing, we’ll put it in. And if I don’t, we’ll try something else.’”
For Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween , Perry added a new element to the film by casting several social-media stars as the fraternity brothers. “I researched social-media influencers and found some really great actors that I believed could expand into other platforms,” he says. “I wanted to bring in kids, because they love Halloween. When we mix in Madea and her fan base, it feels like two worlds colliding in fish-out-of-water madness.”
YouTube star Yousef Erakat, who plays fraternity president and party boy Jonathan, says Perry has created something unique. “This movie is setting new rules for the entertainment industry,” says Erakat.
“Regardless of what platform we started out in, we’re all performers showcasing our talents in a powerhouse film. The merging of digital talent with traditional legends will pay off in a big way for audiences and new artists.”
For Instagram star Brock O’Hurn (TV’s “Too Close to Home”), who plays toga-wearing frat boy Horse, the film was like an acting and improv boot camp.
“Watching how master comedians feed off each other was the ultimate training ground for me,” he says. Younger performers and veterans came together to create a spirit of community that shines through on screen. “On set, we really bridged the gap between our generations in a wonderful way,” says Davis.
“The cast comes from a variety ethnicities, ages and backgrounds, and Tyler brought us together to create something very special.”
Unlike a typical movie set, Perry shoots his films with a four-camera set-up similar to a sitcom, allowing him to avoid filming the same scene over and over again from different angles.
“With comedy, if you keep doing the same joke take after take, it kills the humor,” says Thorne.
“With Tyler, you never have that problem because the one-liners feel fresh.”
As with all of the Madea films, Perry directed in full Madea get-up, jumping quickly between his roles in front of and behind the camera.
“It’s difficult approaching an actor and trying to get them to take me seriously when I’m in costume,” admits Perry.
“I’m 6-foot-6, with those breasts hanging out and butt pads knocking things over while I’m trying set up shots, but by the grace of God, actors find a way to give me what I’m asking for.”
The Madea regalia helps Perry get into character quickly. “When I put on that costume and wig, Madea just shows up,” he says. “It’s pretty hot under all that, so I’m going to get it done and get the hell out of that suit. But while we’re shooting, I just let go and have fun.” Madea’s continuing appeal relies on the fact that she’s a familiar type to many of the films’ fans. “Everyone has a Madea in their family,” says Perry. “She’s from that old-school mentality where you just say what’s on your mind. There are certain people who come along and grab you, and you just gravitate toward them — no matter how insane they are.” And, says Perry, that’s truer than ever in the latest chapter in his groundbreaking franchise. “I’m so proud of this one. It’s the funniest Madea movie yet!”
Born into poverty and raised in a household scarred by abuse, Perry fought from a young age to find the strength, faith and perseverance that would later form the foundations of his much-acclaimed plays, films, books and shows.
It was a simple piece of advice from Oprah Winfrey that set Perry’s career in motion.
Encouraged to keep a diary of his daily thoughts and experiences, he began writing a series of soul-searching letters to himself. The letters, full of pain and in time, forgiveness, became a healing catharsis.
His writing inspired a musical, I Know I’ve Been Changed , and in 1992, Perry gathered his life’s savings in hopes of staging it for sold-out crowds.
He spent all the money but the people never came, and Perry once again came face to face with the poverty that had plagued his youth. He spent months sleeping in seedy motels and his car but his faith — in God and, in turn, himself — only got stronger. He forged a powerful relationship with the church, and kept writing.
In 1998 his perseverance paid off and a promoter booked I Know I’ve Been Changed for a limited run at a local church-turned-theater. This time, the community came out in droves, and soon the musical moved to Atlanta’s prestigious Fox Theatre. Tyler Perry never looked back. And so began an incredible run of 13 plays in as many years, including Woman Thou Art Loosed! a celebrated collaboration with the prominent Dallas pastor T.D. Jakes.
In the year 2000, I Can Do Bad All By Myself marked the first appearance of the now-legendary Madea. The God-fearing, gun-toting, potsmoking, loud-mouthed grandmother, Madea, was played by Perry himself. Madea was such a resounding success, she soon spawned a series of plays — Madea’s Family Reunion (2002), Madea’s Class Reunion (2003), Madea Goes To Jail (2005) — and set the stage for Perry’s jump to the big screen.
In 2015 Perry returned to the stage, performing his new original play, Madea on the Run , to sold-out audiences across the United States.
In early 2005, Perry’s first feature film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman , debuted at number one nationwide. His ensuing films, Madea’s Family Reunion , Daddy’s Little Girls , Why Did I Get Married? , Meet The Browns , The Family That Preys , I Can Do Bad All by Myself , Why Did I Get Married Too? For Colored Girls , Madea’s Big, Happy Family , Good Deeds and Madea’s Witness Protection have all been met with massive commercial success, delighting audiences across America and around the world. He also starred in the Rob Cohen-directed Alex Cross and helped release Academy Award®-nominated Precious , a movie based on the novel Push by Sapphire, in conjunction with his 34th Street Films banner, Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films and Lionsgate. 2006 saw the publication of Perry’s first book, Don’t Make a Black Woman Take off Her Earrings: Madea’s Uninhibited Commentaries on Life and Love, which shot to the top of the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list and remained there for eight weeks. It went on to claim Quill Book Awards for both “Humor” and “Book of the Year” (an unheard-of feat for a first-time author), and spread Tyler
Perry’s unique brand of inspirational entertainment to a devoted new audience. It is a brand that quickly became an empire. In 2007, Perry expanded his reach to television with the TBS series “House of Payne,” the highest-rated first-run syndicated cable show of all time, which went into syndication after only a year. His follow-up effort, “Meet the Browns,” was the second-highest debut ever on cable — after “House of Payne.” In late 2012 Perry teamed up with Oprah Winfrey in an exclusive deal to bring scripted programming to her cable network, OWN, and launched with the half-hour sitcom,
“Love Thy Neighbor,” and the hour-long drama, “The Haves and The Have Nots,” which made its debut in 2013 and has continued to break ratings on the network.
This summer, Perry debuted a new drama series called “Too Close to Home on TLC,” the network’s first scripted series. It has already been picked up for a season two. In the fall of 2008 Perry opened TPS, his 200,000-square-foot studio, situated on the former Delta Airlines campus of more than 30 acres in the Greenbriar area of southwest Atlanta.
During the course of its operation, the space was home to production of over 15 films and almost 800 episodes of Perry’s five television series.
In 2015 TPS announced plans to expand operations with the acquisition of Fort McPherson, which sits on over 330 acres.
Perry and the studio’s 400 Atlanta-based employees will remain in production of Perry’s five current television series, including Perry’s new TLC series “Too Close to Home,” in addition to major feature films and television shows filming in Atlanta. Production is already underway at the new studio and construction will be fully completed by Fall 2017. Not one to rest on success, Tyler Perry and his 400 Atlanta-based employees have been hard at work. His latest films include Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor , released in March 2013, and under his 34th Street Films banner , Peeples , released in May 2013. In late 2013, Perry starred in A Madea Christmas , adapted from his stage play by the same name. In 2014 he was seen in 34th Street Film’s production that he also directed, The Single Moms Club . A show for OWN entitled “If Loving You Is Wrong,” based on the film, premiered in 2014. That year, Perry also garnered rave reviews for his role opposite Ben Affleck in David Fincher’s critically acclaimed box-office hit, Gone Girl.
He was most recently seen on the big screen in 2016 for Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of The Shadows as the villain Baxter Stockman, and will next appear opposite Chloë Grace Moretz in the independent film Brain on Fire . But listen to Tyler Perry and you’ll hear a man who hasn’t forgotten about the people who have helped him reach the top of a mountain he could once only dream of climbing. He has been intimately involved and donated generously to civil rights causes through work with the NAACP and NAN. He also strongly supports charities that focus on helping the homeless, such as Feeding America, Covenant House, Hosea Feed the Hungry, Project Adventure, and Perry Place — a 20-home community that Perry built for survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In January 2010, Perry pledged one million dollars via The Tyler Perry Foundation to help rebuild the lives of those affected by the earthquakes in Haiti.
Tyler Perry practices what he preaches, and what he preaches has endeared him to millions of fans drawn by that unique blend of spiritual hope and down-home humor that continues to shape his inspiring life story and extraordinary body of work.