Tyler Perry’s A Fall From Grace marks a new milestone for the prolific writer, producer, director and studio head. His first feature film for the Netflix streaming service punctuates a 15-year career in filmmaking, which began with his first screen adaptation, 2005’s Diary Of A Mad Black Woman.
The thriller stars Crystal Fox, who has worked with Perry on his series The Haves And Have Nots and House Payne and made her feature film debut in 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy. Fox is front and center as a financially secure divorcee named Grace Scott, who falls in love with a young photographer named Shannon (Mechad Brooks). What starts out as a whirlwind romance quickly devolves into a personal nightmare as tragic events find Grace behind bars fighting for her freedom.
A Fall From Grace also stars Phylicia Rashad as Grace’s protective close friend, Sarah, and Bresha Webb as the young attorney, Jasmine, who goes against her boss’s wishes to have Grace plead out, and instead wants to take her case to trial. Grace’s stern and impatient boss, Rory, is played by none other than Tyler Perry.
BET.com spoke with Perry and Fox about working together on their first movie, the generational divide on display in the film and why it’s important to stay true to your audience.
Tyler, you broke the internet when you posted the stack of scripts you wrote on Twitter to demonstrate your work ethic. Do you have a ritual when you write?
TP: I have my place down in the Bahamas and another place in Jackson, Wyoming, and those are really my writing spots. I’ll go and sit and I’ll write and listen to these characters and hear what they want to say. And to have The Oval and Sistas be the number one and two shows, I think I’m doing alright without a writers’ room. I’m pretty glad that my folks are loving what’s happening. That’s where it happens for me.
Crystal, what was it like working together on this film verses The Haves and Have Nots?
CF: For me what was special is that Tyler didn’t tell me that he was going to be in the film until I got to work the first day. I’ve always been waiting for a moment when we could be in a scene together, and I didn’t know if or when it would ever happen. So it was brief, and maybe too brief for me, but I was just happy to be IN something with him and not just behind the scenes.
Is it different with him directing when he is in the film?
CF: Yes and no. The funny thing is on camera or on stage, that’s my comfort zone. So then to see him there, it was kind of like, OK, we get to do this together. It was exciting.
TP: I love working with this woman. Number one, she’s brilliant, and here’s this opportunity for her to show the world who she is, what she carries and what she’s been holding all these years. What they’ve been ignoring in Hollywood. I think she came in with an ax and “I’m gonna show you what I got.” She’s incredible in this thing. It’s a great moment.
At the core of this film seems to be a generational conflict. Tyler, your character and Bresha’s get into it, and Crystal, you and Mechad have your struggles. What do you think Millennials get wrong about “Boomers” and Boomers get wrong about Millennials?
CF: I think people don’t think Boomers think deeply enough, but I think they do.
TP: I think Millennials think Boomers have not been young before. We’ve been young, we’ve walked that, we know what’s going on…I’m not a Boomer, though. I think I’m Gen-X. Am I Gen-X?
CF: I think I’m a Boomer. I’m right at the end of…
TP: But the point of it is they think we weren’t young and we haven’t gone through everything they’ve gone through. I know things are different with internet and social media, but we’ve been young before.
Tyler, you have a milestone coming up. Next year marks 15 years since your first film, Diary Of A Mad Black Woman.
TP: Really? Wow. I did not know that.
Yup. Happy birthday. So what have you learned about filmmaking and Hollywood in that time span? What’s the most important lesson?
TP: No matter what anybody says, I’ve learned to stay true to my voice, stay true to my audience, not chase people’s opinion. I know my audience and who I’m writing for, and staying on that track has brought me to this place. So that has been the most important thing I’ve learned. Being true to myself, being true to my voice and staying clear about who I’m writing for and what I’m doing. Wow, 15 years.
A Fall From Grace is streaming now!