February 22, 2012
Coming out this week in theaters is Tyler Perry’s latest film, ‘Good Deeds,’ his first non-Madea film where he’s the leading character.
Starring along with him are familiar faces from his previous films such as Thandie Newton, Gabrielle Union, Brian White and Phylicia Rashad. Also included in the film are Rebecca Romijn, Jamie Kennedy, Eddie Cibrian, Jordenn Thompson and Beverly Johnson.
Scheduled to marry Natalie (played by Gabrielle Union), businessman Wesley Deeds (played by Tyler Perry) is jolted out of his scripted life when he meets Lindsey (played by Thandie Newton), a single mother who works on the cleaning crew in his office building.
For Union, it’s her first time back on the big screen since appearing opposite Jeffrey Wright in 2008’s ‘Cadillac Records.’ It’s also her second outing in a Perry film after starring with Idris Elba in 2007’s ‘Daddy’s Little Girls.’
While the Nebraska native may have been off the big screen for some time, she continued to work in other venues, appearing on the small screen with episodic work on TV series such as ‘Ugly Betty,’ ‘Life,’ ‘FlashForward,’ and ‘Army Wives.’
Union has a slew of upcoming films releasing in 2012, including the romantic comedy ‘Think Like A Man,’ and the independent films ‘In Our Nature’ and ‘Miss Dial.’
How would you describe Natalie?
Gabrielle Union: Natalie has a great career. She’s educated. She’s got great friends. She’s got great chemistry. She looks amazing on paper. She has this great relationship with Prince Charming but there’s something missing. There’s a spark missing in the crossroads of their relationship. They have to decide if they should follow their own hopes and dreams or do they live out the plans that were laid out by their parents.
Is there anything else you added to Natalie’s background that wasn’t presented on screen?
GU: I knew a lot of people that have been a Natalie at different points in their life. You start to do what’s expected of you instead of living out your own dreams, and that’s out of fear of letting someone down or disappointing them. The next thing you know when you are looking up with life is passing you by and you’re not happy.
What was the attraction to taking on this role?
GU: When Tyler first approached me to play Natalie, what he felt was most important for me to know is that she’s not a bitch. In this type of film or genre where there is a love triangle, people go out of the way to make sure you know who the villain is and who you should be rooting for. He wanted to not make it easy on the audience and show more of the reality of the relationship where there really is no bad guy a lot of times in relationships. It’s more like a “We’re not happy until we get resentful at the other person” issue where in this film there really are none. It’s about how to get out a relationship with the same respect, dignity and love that you entered in. At the end of the day, you’re not bad people.
How was working with Tyler for a second time?
GU: What’s great about Tyler wearing all the hats is that he has compassion for actors that a lot of directors sort of don’t have. He approaches the actors with a kindness and consideration and empathy that directors miss. It’s very comforting and you feel very safe.
What did you see in him as an actor?
GU: I’ve seen him do Madea but there are so many layers hiding who he is. What’s great about watching him work is that you hear a lot about that we see as a friend, the generosity, the spirit, the warmth, the caring. You will see a lot of Tyler Perry in this role.
This is shaping out to be a good year for you with ‘Think Like A Man’ coming out in a few months. What’s your role in that film?
GU: I play Kristin, Jerry Ferrara’s longtime girlfriend and wanting Jerry’s character to be a little more ambitious in his career and a lot more ambitious in their relationship. She doesn’t know how to get him to move forward. She comes across Steve Harvey’s book, ‘Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man’ and she sets in motion a plan to get her man to step up.
How much fun was working on that film with folks who are also personal friends?
GU: It’s great to work on a film with friends who are on front and behind the camera. It’s like coming home to a super successful family and everyone’s embracing each other. It’s a lot of fun and a lot of laughs.
You also have a role opposite Mad Men’s John Slattery in the indie film, ‘In Our Nature.’
GU: Yes. I play John’s girlfriend and we think we’re going away on a weekend getaway to the lake house and his son and his girlfriend are also there. Father and son have some issues to discuss and we get sucked into their dynamic confrontation. We’re fortunate to be showing the film in March at the SXSW festival in Texas. I also have another film called ‘Miss Dial’ that my girl Robinne Lee put together about a lonely woman who’s missing that connection and starts calling people randomly and I’m one of the people that she calls. It also has Hill Harper and Dule Hill and a lot of our friends. I also did a documentary for PBS called ‘Half the Sky’ where they took six different actresses to six different parts of the world to highlight the oppression of women’s growth across the world. That comes out in late 2012.
That’s a lot of projects you have lined up. Was there a period of time when the work just wasn’t there?
GU: In this business, you have to have humility. You’re not always going to be the ‘it’ girl and it that time you have to figure other ways of working and feeding your soul and artistic spirit. I’ve always worked, just more in television in the last few years than on the big screen. I’ve haven’t been on the big screen in three years, but was on the small screen and am very thankful for all the opportunities that I have been getting, and the opportunity to feed my family and still do what I love.
What’s a good reason to see ‘Good Deeds’?
GU: If you want to go into a film knowing that you are going to be moved and feeling hopeful and also leave that film feeling so much better about yourself and humanity than when you first walked in, go see ‘Good Deeds’ on Feb.24.