Tyler Perry’s TEMPTATION makes bold move

Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Robbie Jones

Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Robbie Jones

Tyler Perry fans eagerly await his movies –a filmmaker’s dream– and by design he will whet appetites with titillation and satisfaction with his latest feature, TEMPTATION.  Described as a bold exploration of the intrigue and perils of infidelity, TEMPTATION pushes boundaries and buttons in like fashion—full of drama and popular culture.

Perry, by box office measure is a successful movie-making machine.  TEMPTATION, his 15th feature film with Lionsgate Pictures, the industry giant tackles topical terrain when relationship betrayal meets the most arresting sexually transmitted disease of this generation– HIV.

Clearly unafraid to marshal an endearing fan base –completely in love with his established franchise heroine “Madea” whose comedic shenanigans are never upstaged— to heady subject matter, equally, Perry has a proclivity for bringing high visibility personalities to his stable of loyal and notable actors.

Lance Gross and Brandy Norwood

Lance Gross and Brandy Norwood

First-timers cast in Perry’s TEMPTATION include: Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Eve’s Bayou, Roll Bounce, The Great Debaters), Brandy Norwood (BET’s The Game, TV’s Moesha) Ella Joyce (TV’s Roc , My Wife and Kids), Renee Taylor (TV’s Happily Divorced, The Nanny), Vanessa Williams (Johnson Family Vacation, Shaft, Soul Food), Robbie Jones (TV’s Necessary Roughness, One Tree Hill), and Kim Kardashian (TV’s Drop Dead Diva).

Perry cast alum and TEMPTATION costar is Lance Gross (Our Family Wedding, Meet the Browns, and TV’s House of Payne).

During a press conference on the eve of TEMPTATION’s premiere, Perry quarterbacked efficiently fielding questions from scores of interviewers—

This film is full of strong images and messages that we haven’t seen in your previous films.  Are you headed in a new direction, dramatically?

Perry: Yes, I was very focused and the main thing I wanted to do was shine a light on the many people who are going through heavy challenges in their personal relationships. I wanted to raise a flag and illuminate what sometimes happens when you’re tempted.  The idea that one choice, one bad decision can change your entire future and destiny; that’s why I wanted to tell this story because I really wanted it to have a grounded look and feel  more like reality than anything I’ve done before.  I also wanted a younger cast, a very exciting cast because not only is this message for everyone but it is also for younger people as well.

As with previous films, your timing seems to be instinctive selecting popular personalities and in this case, Kim Kardashian has a key role in TEMPTATION.  What were your expectations of her and others?  Were you surprised by anyone in particular?

Perry: I think the expectation that I had for her was to come in and do her best which she did; more than anything, that goes back to me with selecting a younger cast. I wanted to have a cast of beautiful young people who are very influential, who have their own following and people who pay attention to everything they’re doing.  This message was so important to me and I think that it was very responsible for her as well as everybody else who took part in this film.  They are carrying a huge message in TEMPTATION and I think she did a great job. We’re very, very happy with what she did.

Smollett-Bell and Kim Kardashian

Smollett-Bell and Kim Kardashian

When you point out that a single bad decision can change one’s life forever, is there an example in your own life of a decision you regret making?

Perry: I have no regrets in my life but one exception. When my mother was dying she was trying to tell me something… she said she was tired and I tried to talk her out of it rather than listen to her and what she had to say.  I have since found about people, especially in those moments, they have so much they want to say. That is my one regret in life. That is one decision that I regret the most.  Otherwise I live in the mental awareness of being very careful about what I do, how I do it, how I speak to people, how I treat people… I’m very careful about the energy I put out.

HIV/AIDS is a very serious discussion to have.  What point are you making in this film with this subject?

Perry: This is what I love about the feedback people give regarding the messages in my films.  Many times, they get so much more out of them than I was thinking about when I write them.

Indeed you are making a bold move given the accelerated numbers of new HIV cases among African American women, most often infected by their male romantic interests and suitors. Did you set out to address this critical health matter?  

Perry: When I initially wrote this script there was some resistance to me addressing the HIV aspect. For quite some time I have tried not to bring a message that would be irresponsible so the scripts would veer off and become something else.  Not this time, I wanted to make this film in its truth and what its’ intention is.

Will you do more films that address health disparities in the foreseeable future?

Perry: I’m going to go wherever I go.  I don’t sit down and say this is what I’m doing next. I really don’t. It’s truly what I feel, and what comes to me in an inspiration, or in passing talking to someone.  There have been times when I’ve had a conversation and I’ll shake somebody’s hand and be inspired.

Tyler Perry 2You are held up as an American success story. Do you see yourself as a role model?

Perry: I see myself as human. I make a lot of mistakes. I also see myself as a person who has done what I’ve done,  I show people that it is possible to do so.  If that’s a role model, then…yeah.  But don’t follow me home when I’m tired because you might not like what you see.

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