Tyler Perry comes out of his shell as scientist
Actor-director sheds Madea drag for role as turtle-battling bad guy
NEW YORK — In an age where comic-book movies have taken on heavy themes involving politics, patriotism, terrorism and technology, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stands out from the crowd.
Befitting the source material of reptilian martial-arts adepts created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in 1984, TMNT is unapologetically juvenile, layering big mayhem over simplistic storylines. It’s not hard to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys in these comics/movies/ TV series.
So, all things considered, it’s a curious thing to find Tyler Perry in the middle of this mayhem.
After all, the imposingly tall, soft-spoken Perry, 46, is a self-made star in his own right. Raised amid violence and poverty in New Orleans, Perry struggled to communicate his thoughts through the medium of theatre.
In 1998, he wrote a musical that would become a hit in Atlanta, and from there, he would go on to build a film empire complete with his own studio, largely on the strength of his character Madea, a tough, gun-toting grandma who offered sage, no-nonsense advice in a series of Perry’s distinctive comedy-melodramas including Madea’s Family Reunion, Why Did I Get Married and Madea’s Witness Protection. The titles of his film are typically prefixed: Tyler Perry’s...
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows, the sequel to the 2014 hit, offered the filmmaker-actor a refreshing change-up. He plays scientist Baxter Stockman, a flat-out evil guy eager to employ his scientific genius to assist the villainous Shredder (Brian Tee) in launching an alien invasion on Earth.
Perry, who previously dipped his toes in the sci-fi universe in the 2009 film Star Trek, admits he wasn’t entirely familar with the realm of the Ninja Turtles.
“When I first got the call and I got the offer, I went back and tried to do some research,” he says, expressing surprise at what he discovered about the character.
“Wait, he’s black! Oh, OK.
Tyler Perry as Baxter Stockman in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Above, from left, Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael.