This Christmas, Tyler Perry is looking to make you double over with laughter and reflect on a timeless lesson. Perhaps both goals are achieved in his latest flick, A Madea Christmas, his eighth featuring the loud-mouth character we’ve come to love.
We caught up with the famed director to talk about the holiday season, what he’s getting Oprah for Christmas and if he’ll ever kill off Madea.
ESSENCE.com: Let’s start by asking, what are your favorite holiday traditions?
TYLER PERRY: Before my mother died, I would love spending time with her. Now I just go down to the Bahamas to sit and reflect. Or I go to this place in Wyoming, get a cabin and reflect quietly on the year past.
ESSENCE.com: Are you planning to give Oprah a special gift this year? Or anyone else?
PERRY: Nope, I gave her flowers last year for her birthday. This year she’s getting a small single rose and in a bottle. I’m going to buy it on a freeway in California and send it to her, that’s what she’s getting this year. Don’t tell her! I give Christmas gifts all year long. Everybody gets a Christmas gift. It comes every month for most people that I know.
ESSENCE.com: You have so many Madea movies under your belt. In a lot of ways her character seems immortal. Have you ever thought about bringing her character to a close or killing her off?
PERRY: I would never kill her off, but if people stopped coming to see Madea she would go away. She would go away very, very quickly because she’s not my favorite character to play. But, I do appreciate the joy that she brings to a lot of people. I’ve been trying to celebrate it within myself and enjoy the moment, enjoy the ride.
ESSENCE.com: Spike Lee recently said that he would like to work with you. In a perfect world, what would that project look like?
PERRY: You know, I don’t know. Spike has so much edge to his work. It would be very interesting. I’m totally intrigued at the thought and would love the idea of just being able to work with someone as brilliant as Spike. Maybe we will find the right project that speaks to what is true to him, while at the same time speaks to what is true to me at my core.
ESSENCE.com: I’m sure you get a lot of impromptu acting auditions and people throwing scripts at you. How do you handle that?
PERRY: The saddest part for me is that I do not accept scripts in any form from any person because people like to sue you. It’s the most ridiculous thing. It’s unfortunate there are really, really good writers out there and people who have great ideas and great books. I won’t read them, I won’t take them, I won’t accept them and it’s the saddest thing to tell people that. There was this one lady who waited outside of a restaurant for 12 hours. She had a script and all she wanted me to do was to take it and read it. I told her I couldn’t and it broke her heart. It broke my heart that I couldn’t, but I know unfortunately this is what people do. They give you the script and then sue you. The good have to suffer because of what some awful people have tried to do.