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Tyler Perry: Casting ‘Jazzman’s Blues’ Was Tough Due to ‘Not So Great’ Reviews of ‘Madea’ Movies

"This was the first time I’ve ever enjoyed directing," the Oscar nominee said of his period piece, three decades in the making.

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry

ABC via Getty Images

Tyler Perry’s rise to billionaire status has come with a few unexpected repercussions.

The mogul behind the “Madea” franchise revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that poor reviews impacted casting on his upcoming period piece, “A Jazzman’s Blues,” which he wrote, directed, and produced. Set in the 1940s South, “A Jazzman’s Blues” was penned by Perry 27 years ago, with Lionsgate originally attached to produce the film in 2007.

The film centers on Bayou (Joshua Boone), a young Black jazz singer in Louisiana who rekindles his decades-long romance with his white-passing former girlfriend (Solea Pfeiffer). “A Jazzman’s Blues” premieres at 2022 TIFF before streaming on Netflix September 23.

Yet casting the historical drama proved to be a challenge for Perry, who originally toyed with starring in the lead role before he “aged out.”

“We were talking, they were really excited, and it just fell apart,” Perry said of speaking with up-and-coming actors for the film. “And here’s what I understand: They have management and they have teams. And the management and teams will say, ‘I don’t know about this because of Tyler Perry’s…’ because of my not-so-great relationship with the critics of my films.”

Even lead star Boone admitted that watching Perry’s “Madea” movies growing up made him “iffy” about signing on to “Jazzman’s Blues.”

“From a business standpoint, especially as a Black man in this country, I have always had a desire to be around him. Tyler Perry, the man, I would love to encounter,” Boone explained. “Tyler Perry, the artist, I [was] iffy about whether or not I wanted to make that happen.”

He added, “His work, to a degree, raised me. I shared with him that I was his biggest fan and became one of his harshest critics.”

Per Newsweek, Perry’s 14 “Madea” movies that came out across 11 years grossed more than $670 million at the box office and netted producer Perry about $290 million in fees and profit. The average Metacritic score for Perry-directed films sits at 38.6.

“I’m going to do this one day, but right now I have to establish that I am a box office draw,” Perry said of paving his own way in Hollywood before revisiting “A Jazzman’s Blues.” He also is writing a new script for a World War II drama and is looking to “play in a few different areas” with a zombie movie horror genre installment. It’s clear that “A Jazzman’s Blues” opened a new path for Perry after decades in the industry.

“This was the first time I’ve ever enjoyed directing,” the Oscar nominee added. “Because when you’re doing things like ‘Madea’ and ‘Why Did I Get Married?’, I really enjoy the finished product and what my audience gets from it and how much they love it. But the process to get there was always just work.”

As for his “Jazzman’s Blues” cast, Perry summed up, “I just wanted to protect them as much as I can.”

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