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‘Mea Culpa’ Interview: Writer and Director Tyler Perry




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Director Tyler Perry talks 'Mea Culpa.'

Director Tyler Perry talks ‘Mea Culpa.’

Premiering on Netflix February 23rd is the new thriller ‘Mea Culpa’ from writer, director and producer Tyler Perry (‘Madea’s Family Reunion’), which stars Kelly Rowland (‘Freddy vs. Jason‘) and Trevante Rhodes (‘The Predator’).

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with writer, director and producer Tyler Perry about his work on ‘’Mea Culpa,’ developing the screenplay, the themes he wanted to explore, Mea’s marriage, her relationship with Zyair, casting Kelly Rowland and Trevante Rhodes, shooting the painting sequence, and shooting the film at his studios in Atlanta.

Kelly Rowland and Writer/Director/Producer Tyler Perry on set of 'Mea Culpa.'

(L to R) Kelly Rowland and Writer/Director/Producer Tyler Perry on set of ‘Mea Culpa.’ Photo: George Burns / Perry Well Films 2 / Courtesy of Netflix.

Moviefone: To begin with, can you talk about developing the screenplay and the themes you wanted to explore with this film as a director?

Tyler Perry: For me, I’ve been a fan of these kind of thrillers since the ’80s, when I first started watching them with my mom. But as far as the screenwriting goes, my process is a little different than a lot. I don’t block it out. I don’t do different charts, or things like that. All I do is start with the characters and see where they lead me to, and that’s where this all came up. These people live in my head rent-free, so I must get them out on paper so they can go away.

Kelly Rowland as Mea in 'Mea Culpa.'

Kelly Rowland as Mea in ‘Mea Culpa.’ Photo: Bob Mahoney / Perry Well Films 2 / Courtesy of Netflix.

MF: Can you talk about Mea’s marriage and relationship with her in-laws, how that affects her emotionally and eventually leads her to Zyair?

TP: I think like a lot of people, she was unhappy on so many levels in her personal life, even though it looks so great on the outside. Unhappy with holding the secrets, unhappy with holding all the support and holding it all up. I see all that can be extremely difficult for this character, and it leads her to a level of vulnerability that allows this moment to happen, that probably wouldn’t have happened, had everything been good in her life, but I think it caught her at a very vulnerable time.

Trevante Rhodes as Zyair in 'Mea Culpa.'

Trevante Rhodes as Zyair in ‘Mea Culpa.’ Photo: Bob Mahoney / Perry Well Films 2 / Courtesy of Netflix.

MF: Can you talk about Zyair’s motivations and his relentless pursuit of Mea?

TP: Not only that, but I also think he’s relentless in his pursuit of every woman he likes. He’s just somebody who is very much into his art and his creation, and sex, and the wildness of it all. So, he’s a very interesting kind of character that was a lot of fun to write, and a lot of fun to direct Trevante in that role.

Related Article: Tyler Perry Brings New Dramedy ‘Sistas’ to BET

Trevante Rhodes as Zyair and Kelly Rowland as Mea in 'Mea Culpa.'

(L to R) Trevante Rhodes as Zyair and Kelly Rowland as Mea in ‘Mea Culpa.’ Photo: Bob Mahoney / Perry Well Films 2 / Courtesy of Netflix.

MF: Can you talk about casting Kelly Rowland and Trevante Rhodes, and specifically why they were right for these characters?

TP: I started with Kelly, because it’s all about Mea, and as she and I were talking, her being a producer, we started talking about who would be best to play the role, and she was really excited about Trevante. I had worked with him many years ago when I gave him his first shot on one of my television shows, and this is before ‘Moonlight,’ before any of those things. I thought, “This is great to have this reunion for us.” He read the script, and he’s like, “Oh yeah, I’ll come do this for you.” So that’s how it all started, man. I’m just really excited for them both.

Trevante Rhodes as Zyair and Kelly Rowland as Mea in 'Mea Culpa.'

(L to R) Trevante Rhodes as Zyair and Kelly Rowland as Mea in ‘Mea Culpa.’ Photo: Bob Mahoney / Perry Well Films 2 / Courtesy of Netflix.

MF: From a technical standpoint, can you talk about the challenges of shooting the erotic painting sequence?

TP: think that the challenges were, the paint was cold, and when they were putting it on, it was colder. I don’t know why it was so cold, but Trevante was like, “Hey man, this paint is cold.” But we managed to get the scenes. As far as the other part of it, there’s an intimacy coordinator who works directly with every actor that I work with about what they’re comfortable with, and what they’re not comfortable with, when we get into those scenes. So, I want to make sure they’re comfortable first, and then we can literally paint the scene for the audience to see.

Kelly Rowland and Writer/Director/Producer Tyler Perry on set of 'Mea Culpa.'

(L to R) Kelly Rowland and Writer/Director/Producer Tyler Perry on set of ‘Mea Culpa.’ Photo: George Burns / Perry Well Films 2 / Courtesy of Netflix.

MF: Finally, I understand that you shot the film in 20 days. Can you talk about how you were able to do that with your production crew at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta?

TP: Well, all the interiors on the show were on the lot, so I could move from one building to the next building, to the next building. That’s cutting down on so much time and moving to different locations, it cuts down on so much. My team is phenomenal, so we know how to move and make things work and go as quick as the actors can handle. I just don’t understand why there’s so much time wasted in this business. When I first got in, I would see millions of dollars wasted. I’ve seen hours and hours wasted on bad decisions. So, I like to be efficient, make the right decisions, get in and get out, and get the show done.

In the hopes of becoming partner, a criminal defense attorney takes on the case of an artist who may or may not have murdered his girlfriend. Read the Plot

What is the Plot of ‘Mea Culpa’?

When criminal defense attorney Mea Harper (Kelly Rowland) takes on the murder case of artist Zyair Malloy (Trevante Rhodes), the truth isn’t as obvious as it seems. While she tries to determine the innocence or guilt of her cagy-yet-seductive client, it is uncovered that everyone is guilty of something.

Who is in the Cast of ‘Mea Culpa’?

Kelly Rowland as Mea and Trevante Rhodes as Zyair in 'Mea Culpa.'

(L to R) Kelly Rowland as Mea and Trevante Rhodes as Zyair in ‘Mea Culpa.’ Photo: Bob Mahoney / Perry Well Films 2 / Courtesy of Netflix.

Other Movies Directed by Tyler Perry:

Buy Tyler Perry Movies on Amazon

 

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