Madea… er, rather… Tyler Perry eschews directing, writing, and cross-dressing to focus on acting as "Alex Cross", the super psychologist and daring detective at the heart of James Patterson's beloved series of mystery novels. Delving back to Cross's Detroit Police Department days, the story centers around a man-hunt for Picasso (Matthew Fox), a sadistic and sinewy serial killer with a penchant for abstract expressionism. We all know Alex Cross will stop at nothing to get the bad guy, but here are five facts about the film you might not know.
Morgan Freeman's Big Shoes
1. Of course, Perry isn't the first person to play the part of Alex Cross; Morgan Freeman brought Patterson's protagonist to life in two well-received thrillers: "Kiss the Girls" (1997) and "Along Came a Spider" (2001). But according to Cross's creator, Perry more closely resembles the actual character description. "Morgan is a great actor. But Tyler is much closer to the Alex Cross in books, physically and age-wise, in terms of his ability to do action," says Patterson. Though he was initially reticent to step into such big shoes, when Perry read about the character's physicality, he knew it was a good fit: "I thought, 'Wait a minute, that's me!'" Perry recently told Collider. Perry speaks about filling Morgan Freeman's shoes in the interview above.
Fox Drops Mad Weight, Makes Mom Mad
2. Perry isn't the only one playing against type; former "Lost" star Matthew Fox's portrayal of Picasso falls way outside the actor's comfort zone -- or at least it falls outside our comfort zone. Fox dropped nearly 40 pounds to embody the wiry psychopath, thanks mostly to his work with celebrity trainer Simon Waterson, the man who helped Daniel Craig to beome Bond, James Bond. Aside from puke-inducing circuit training -- including weapons, scuba, and mixed martial arts training -- Waterson put Fox on a rigorous diet, which didn't sit well with the actor's sweet tooth tendencies, or with his mother. "My mother hated it," Fox told EOnline. "She's Italian and she's a fantastic cook and loves to feed her son more than anything. She couldn't stand it. It really upset her."
Madea Kicks Butt
3. In order to go toe-to-toe with Picasso, Perry also had to get in shape. To prepare for his first real action flick (aside from a small part in J.J. Abrams's "Star Trek"), Perry went through extensive training in Krav Maga, the fighting style developed by the Israeli army and utilized by law enforcement agencies around the globe. "Listen, it is the most intense, most amazing workout I've ever experienced in my life, and I kept it up after the movie because when it's all done, it's so relaxing, and being able to know how to defend yourself, that was really cool. I fell in love with it, and it also helps me keep my weight down. So it's really intense, and I can kick some ass, man!" Said Perry.
Talent for Hire
4. According to IMDB, Perry has 28 directing credits, 32 producing credits, and 29 writing credits. The man is used to being in control on a set. So in order to allow director Rob Cohen ("The Fast and the Furious" 2001, "xXx" 2002) to do his job, Perry had to make a committed effort to remain hands-off. "I completely, 100% made a commitment to let go. When I said yes to it, I showed up as, 'You want talent? You want work for hire?' That's exactly what I committed to do, when I walked in. I'm good at giving up control to people who know where they're going and what they want to do. I can sit in the backseat and ride all the way across the country, if you know where you're going and you know how to take me there, and Rob was that kind of director," Perry told Collider.
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5. A lot of directors seeks to build camaraderie amongst actors on set. That was not the case on Cohen's "Alex Cross" set. After their initial introduction and all the way through the end of shooting, Perry and Fox never spoke to each other out of character. "I didn't want these guys socializing off the set or chatting between takes," says Cohen. "The depth of hatred between these two characters is such that I wanted the actors to be a mystery to each other. I told each of them, 'let the other guy be a mystery to you and when we get on the set, sparks will fly. And when I called 'cut' in their scenes it was like a prize fight: each guy went to his separate corner." You can see the enmity between the two in the exclusive clip above.