Tyler Perry as an action hero. Really.
Perry will play detective Alex Cross in a new film based on novelist James Patterson's popular character. This would be the first major film role TP has undertaken that doesn't involve one of his own projects ... and it is a role that was conceived and originally packaged around actor Idris Elba.
[It is] essentially a reboot of the James Patterson mystery series that starred Morgan Freeman as the detective psychologist based in D.C. Tyler Perry will headline this version, and Rob Cohen will direct. Distributors are circling the project right now. In fact, Paramount, which distributed the Cross mysteries Kiss the Girls and Along Came A Spider, is interested in taking the project off the table. It will be interesting to see if Lionsgate steps up after Perry has consistently turned in winners for the minimajor, which collects a distribution fee on pictures that Perry owns.
The Alex Cross reboot was originally conceived as a vehicle for actor Idris Elba, who was going to play the character in the novel Cross, with David Twohy directing. Perry became the lead in recent weeks. It's likely to be a controversial choice, and the key will be whether Perry can bring the considerable following that follow his directing vehicles. His biggest successes came when Perry played the female alter ego, the stereotypical matriarch Madea.
Bill Block, CEO of QED International (District 9), tries to sell Tyler Perry's sex appeal to EW:
"Tyler Perry is a phenomenon. Tyler Perry is one of the most significant entertainers in all of media. He is a huge cross-media talent and presence—and he’s a terrific actor whose range is going to be shown here. You’re going to see Tyler Perry like you haven’t seen him. He’s 6’5″, he is a linebacker. He is an awesome physical presence and is just going to tear it apart here. It’s an intense, dramatic role.” Block says the film—"a kickass, crusading action picture"—will be the first of several Alex Cross films. "This is going to be the new Tyler Perry franchise, a worldwide one."
Perry's last project was directing For Colored Girls, an adaptation of the iconic 1975 Tony Award-winning choreopoem by Ntozake Shange. His movies usually have strong female characters and a substantial female following. The Cross films are action mysteries which appeal to a largely male viewing audience.
Do you buy Tyler Perry as a gun-toting, car-chasing, ass-kicking action hero? It will be interesting to see if his Madea fans follow him. I'm also curious to see how he would bring some heat and handle the physical demands ... and the likely female love interest, too.