October 19th, 2012
03:36 PM ET
Prolific filmmaker and actor Tyler Perry is best known for helming the movies he stars in, and the projects are more about creating laughs than suspense.
All of which makes his starring role in this weekend's crime thriller "Alex Cross" something of a departure. But as he told CNN, he's actually always hoped he'd be able to try such an action-oriented role on for size.
"I’ve been in the business for a very long time, and ['Alex Cross' director] Rob Cohen is the first man to ever offer me a role like this. He saw it first," Perry said. "I’ve always wanted to, but it had to be the right role, and this was the right situation."
That's not to say that Perry didn't need some convincing. "I read the script and I was like, 'I don’t know if I can do this, or if I want to try to take this on,'" he said. "And then I realized that [the] physicality and description [James Patterson] had for Alex Cross in the books, and I said, 'Wait a minute, this is me.' And I couldn’t put it down, and I realized I had to do it."
The character was previously portrayed by Morgan Freeman in "Along Came a Spider" and "Kiss the Girls," but Perry isn't worried about living up to Freeman's work.
"I couldn’t be Morgan Freeman playing Alex Cross. I had to do the best job I could as Tyler Perry, cause Morgan Freeman is brilliant!" he said. "He played God in movies. All I had to do - or could do - was the best, the absolute best that I could do."
Unfortunately, the film as a whole hasn't earned praise from critics.
The New York Times called the film "a grim, dispiritingly stupid waste of time, energy, money and talent," although the review does clarify that "the ineptitude of 'Alex Cross' can’t be pinned only on Mr. Perry. He’s a likable screen presence, even when not wearing Madea’s wig and bosomy padding. But he doesn’t have the skill that can lift a performance up, up and away from the substandard movie surrounding it, one of Mr. Freeman’s enduring, oft-tapped talents."
Time magazine also found "Alex Cross" to be "ugly in spirit and looks," only raising the reviewer's "appreciation for Morgan Freeman, the original cinematic Alex Cross." Perry's performance, meanwhile, was "so emotionally shallow ... He wears two expressions, either the furrowed brow or the jolly smile. Perry has left the hamminess of his Madea incarnation behind, but maybe in suppressing her, he has suppressed himself."
Yet The Los Angeles Times has hope for the 43-year-old, believing that if he's given better material, Perry "has the talent to move beyond the world of Madea, should he want to," but not when he's reciting dialogue "so bad it's like an "SNL" skit gone south."
"The casting is no doubt driven in part by the hope that the money guys can get some of that Tyler Perry box-office magic," the LAT's review said. "Perry may actually pay off; not much else about the movie does."
Perhaps they'll get it right with the next one. According to Deadline, there's talk of adapting James Patterson's novel "Double Cross" into another film starring Perry.
Are you planning to see "Alex Cross" this weekend?
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