Contact Us | About Us |
Movie Screenings Sweepstakes Special Offers
Campus Circle > Film > Interviews
Film: Interview

Madea's Big Happy Family: The pistol-packin' grandma is back by popular demand.

By Samantha Ofole
<i>Madea's Big Happy Family</i>
Quantrell Colbert
(Credit: Shirley (Loretta Devine) and Madea (Tyler Perry) in Madea’s Big Happy Family)

Article tools
sponsored by
Movie mogul Tyler Perry doesn’t relish the idea of dressing up in drag.

“All that make-up and costume while I am directing is a lot, but audiences wanted more, so I sucked it up and gave it to them,” says the screenwriter, director, actor and producer, who initially introduced the sassy grandmother, Mabel “Madea” Simmons on the big screen in the movie Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

Since her screen debut in 2005, the comedic, fictional character played by Perry has been a cornerstone star of Perry’s ever-expanding gallery of characters and remains one of the primary reasons for the filmmaker’s popularity.

“She’s not politically correct,” says Perry about everyone’s favorite wisecracking grandma. “Don’t ask her if you don’t want to know the plain, honest truth, because she doesn’t give a damn. I think that’s why people enjoy her so much. Her energy is contagious, and everybody from a certain generation knew this grandmother.”

In Madea’s Big Happy Family, Madea is tasked with uniting an estranged family. This time, she’s joined by her wacky cousin Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis), a trash talking, pot smoking, plus-sized woman with a wild side.

“She’s a wildcat and a wildcard,” affirms Perry, who needed a little comic relief after helming two serious dramatic projects back to back.

“After For Colored Girls and Why Did I Get Married Too?, I just wanted to have some fun and really enjoy myself,” he explains on his decision to make another movie based around the rambunctious matriarch.

“People always ask me where my stories come from, and some of the scenes in the movie did actually happen. You can’t make that up,” he continues. “It’s being able to have all of those experiences and be around people who are going through all kinds of things.”

Joining the cast in this latest offering is Loretta Devine, who plays Shirley, Madea’s niece and mother of three bickering adult siblings.

“She’s a soft-spoken woman, who relies on prayer as opposed to hard discipline,” shares Devine. “She’s been sick going on seven years, and due to her illness, she hasn’t been able to manage her children very well.”

After Shirley receives distressing news about her health, all she wants to do is gather her children around her and share the news as a family, but her kids – Tammy (Natalie Desselle Reid), Kimberly (Shannon Kane) and Byron (Shad “Bow Wow” Moss) – are all too distracted with their own problems to care. Once again, it’s all up to Madea, with the help of the equally rambunctious Aunt Bam, to gather the clan together amidst all the drama and melodrama.

Perry was particularly excited about the inter-generational drama that resulted with the inclusion of younger cast members.

“When I wrote it,” he says, “I knew that I wanted to have a certain group of people working with me,” he adds on his casting choices. “I wanted a young cast, and I was excited about having Loretta as she is the hardest working actor out there. Having all those different generations represented was very exciting.”

Other cast members include Rodney Perry, David Mann, Tamela Mann, Isaiah Mustafa, Teyana Taylor (who plays the baby mother from hell) and Lauren London, as Bryon’s materialistic girlfriend Renee.

“I love to have young people come into this situation and see how they live and then see how Madea lives,” continues Perry, who in some scenes was directing the cast while dressed in drag.

“I have worked with most of the people, and so my team knows that when I am in costume I am still me. For the new people, it was pretty strange seeing me sitting there with the wig and the costume,” adds Perry who also plays another character – Madea’s brother Joe.

“Comedy is all around me,” continues Perry, “Even in some of the most serious situations, I find something to be joyful about. That’s why my films are the way they are. The audience wants to laugh. They want to have a little drama or melodrama, and with Madea I can do that.”

Madea’s Big Happy Family is currently in theaters.
Article posted on 4/25/2011
This article has been viewed 2037 times.

Read Campus Circle
Download Current Issue
Download Current Issue
PDF Format

View Issues Online
Current and past issues
View Issues
Related Articles You Might Like...

Interviews Zach Braff Clears Some Things Up About His Latest Movie, Wish I Was Here 338 views

Interviews In Third Person, Some Things are Better Left Unanswered: Paul Haggis, Mila Kunis discuss this head-scratching film. 758 views

Interviews Director Jane Weinstock Talks Getting Lost in The Moment 146 views

Interviews Think Like a Man Too Cast Talks Sequel, Their Own Relationships: Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union and others are back at it! 366 views

Interviews 22 Jump Street: Directors, Cast Work Hard to Create Sequel That Doesn't Suck 349 views

Interviews The Case Against 8 Revisits Calif.'s Historic LGBT Civil Rights Case 256 views

Interviews Henry Jaglom's The M Word Shines Humorous Light on Hot Topic 1,514 views

Interviews For No Good Reason Doc. Illustrates Artist's Desire to Change the World 823 views

Interviews A Haunted House 2's Marlon Wayans Compares Comedy to Sex: 'You have to flirt with the audience before you f*ck ‘em…' 1,556 views

Interviews Ilo Ilo's Anthony Chen Used Real, Fictional Events for this Beautiful Drama 782 views
Member Comments (0)

Your Comments...
You must be logged in to leave a comment.   Sign In | Register