To paraphrase that old TV commercial, when Tyler Perry talks... people listen. So it is no surprise that he has produced a morality tale that seems to be directed at a world that has, by all appearances, decided to take marriage vows a little less seriously than previous generations.
Perry met us for an interview about his latest film, Temptation, and admitted that he hopes that the film will get people talking. “I knew there were a lot of people going through things in relationships and I wanted to just raise a flag and say, ‘What happens when you’re tempted?’ One choice -- one bad decision -- can change your entire future and destiny,” Perry said.
“That’s why I wanted to tell this story. That’s why I took the play version and really extended it and really went into all of those different areas because I really wanted it have a grounded feel and look and feel more like reality than anything that I’ve done. I wanted a younger cast because not only is this message for everyone but, it is in particular for younger people. One decision can change your whole life!”
Perry took a chance and cast a woman known more for dominating gossip news than acting, Kim Kardashian. “The expectation I had for her was to come in and do her best and she did,” Perry admitted. “But also, more than anything, it goes back to the younger cast. I wanted to have younger, beautiful people who are very influential and have their own following.”
The prolific filmmaker (what are the Top 10 Tyler Perry movies?) believes that his message contained throughout the film would strike a chord with people like Kardashian in lead roles. “People pay attention to everything she’s doing,” Perry said.
“Because this message was so important to me, it was very responsible for her and everyone else in the cast to take part in this film. It’s a big message to carry. I think she did a great job and I’m very happy with what she did.”
Perry reported that he believes that there is an 80-20 thing in marriages and that audiences can truly alter their decision-making process when it comes to those morality questions raised by the movie, and teased in the Temptation trailer.
“I want this movie to speak to marriage and to the right decisions and to the wrong decisions. You’re only gonna get 80 percent of what you need in a marriage. And here comes somebody offering 20 percent and 20 percent looks like a whole lot when you’re not getting it. So you end up leaving 80 percent to get 20 percent,” Perry said.
“You don’t realize it till you're in the 20 what you gave up. So what I’m hoping is that the movie will speak to making the right choices.”
More often than not, Perry not only writes, directs, produces, but also stars in his films. Not so with Temptation.
“If I didn’t star in any of them I’d be fine,” he said and laughed. “What I found is the audience wants me to do something, like Madea most of the time, and that’s OK. But, the minute I sit down and I write the characters as I see them, if they don’t look like me, I don’t force myself to be them.”
Perry’s movies have always covered lots of ground and there is the element of HIV infection in Temptation that could have been its own film. But, Perry felt that there was a need for the topic, given the alarming number of African American women now coming down with the disease.
It was tough for Perry to include that aspect in his script. “When I initially wrote it, there was some resistance to me telling the HIV story. They asked, ‘Does she have to have HIV 'cause the story stands on its own? Is that necessary?’ What is important to me is that people get it,” Perry said.
“Within African American women there are new cases arising all the time. To have an audience of women who have loved what I’ve done for a long time, to not bring that message would be irresponsible. It would then become about something else. It would then become about let’s make this movie in a certain way instead of the truth.”
The major characters in the film have moments of regret, given their various forms of giving in to Temptation. We wondered, especially given that most successful people supposedly have few regrets… does Perry have any?
“I have one and that’s when my mom was dying she was trying to tell me something. She said she was tired. I tried to talk her out of it and let her rest, rather than listen to her and what she had to say,” Perry said. “What I have found about people, especially in those moments, is that they have so much they want to say. That is the decision I regret the most."