Tyler Perry credits 'loving' Chicago crowd for bringing Madea to life

Tuesday, 17 October 2017, 04:29:45 AM. The character launched at the Regal Theatre stars in her second Halloween movie.

LOS ANGELES — Tyler Perry feels a deep, long-lasting positive connection to Chicago, “where Madea got her start.”

The character was born during a performance of his play “I Can Do Bad All by Myself” at the Regal Theatre at 79th and Stony Island. “I’ll never forget it. The audiences there were always so giving, always so loving. I played that theater many, many nights — for years and years, before it closed down.”

Perry, who next dons the dress of the brassy matriarch in “Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween” (opening Friday), said the character has evolved over the years. “I do try to stay true to what it was originally, because people love her for that — and how she will say such funny, outlandish things,” he said. “But I also want her today to have a little more wisdom in what she shares.”

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Tyler Perry as Madea in “Tyler Perry’s Boo! 2 A Madea Halloween.” | LIONSGATE

Perry also believes that seeing and hearing Madea on the big screen brings back personal family memories. “So many people loved their grandmothers and miss them deeply because they’re gone now. They miss those conversations they had with their grandmas — those wonderful, insightful conversations when grandmothers imparted so many pieces of wisdom. Now those great ladies are gone, and their grandkids miss them!”

Then there’s also the state of the world today. As Perry put it, “Especially for the last couple of Madea films, I think their popularity stems from people’s need to laugh. There is so much heaviness going on in the world today. There’s so much unhappiness and turmoil, between all the ugly politics and the seemingly unending natural disasters.

“People need to escape from all that and have a good time. They need to take 100 minutes out of their day and go laugh at something.”

For Perry, Halloween doesn’t bring any particular happy memories, but there is one unhappy one. “One year, when I was pretty young, I came out wearing a sheet,” he said with a smile. “Mind you this was in an all-black neighborhood. My mother had a fit. I said, ‘But I’m a ghost,’ and she screamed, ‘No! You’re KKK! Take that damned sheet off this minute!’

“That was the Halloween memory I remember most.”

Going in a far different direction from his Madea projects, Perry is excited about the news he will play Gen. Colin Powell in Adam McKay’s new film about Dick Cheney, with Christian Bale portraying the former vice president.

“I’m really pumped about it,” said Perry, who admitted he has never met the general and former U.S. secretary of state, “but I have been to an army base where he once stayed, so that’s something of a connection to him. While I’ve never met him, obviously I would love to.”

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