Tyler Perry may be hanging up his gray Madea wig, but the actor, writer and producer is careful to never say never.
The 50-year-old tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue that while Madea — the sharp-tongued southern matriarch he debuted in plays and first brought to the big screen in 2005’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman — will remain close to his heart, he was ready to retire the character after last March’s A Madea Family Funeral.
“I stayed that course bringing joy and laughter and lifting people,” he says. “It had its purpose and its power. For right now I’m done.”
His films centering on Madea have earned more than $500 million at the box office. So have audiences really heard the last “Hellur?” from the tough-talking grandmother?
Perry won’t close the door forever, saying, “We’ll see.” After a short pause, he adds, “Although running for office might be a really good thing for her to do.”
- For more about Tyler Perry, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
In February, Perry admitted to PEOPLE he was “excited” to leave behind Madea’s “dress, the wig, the makeup, the shoes — all of it.”
“Every bit of it,” he continued. “The glue in the wig, zipping up the dress with how hot it is, everything.”
As for what he will miss the most, Perry said, “The live performances with the audience because that is the most give and take I get and their reaction and their faces are priceless.”
Madea may no longer be taking centerstage for Perry, but he is currently juggling nine shows in production, including The Oval, a White House drama starring Perry as a presidential butler, and Sistas, a show about a group of single black women, both premiering this month on BET.