Tyler Perry appeared a bit stunned at the Oct. 15 preem of “Alex Cross” at the Arclight, playing the imperturbable detective rather than Madea. “It was unreal seeing myself from a year ago onscreen, but once I got to the 20-minute mark, I forgot it was me up there,” he said at the post-preem bash at Lure. The Alex Cross character is the first lead role for Perry in a pic that he has not directed, written or produced.

Director Rob Cohen admitted that one of his key tasks was keeping Perry separated from arch-villain Matthew Fox during the 40-day shoot. “It paid off for them not to have a relationship off the screen,” he said. “Matthew only took in 1,200 calories a day, lost 40 pounds and got absolutely ripped.”

The Lionsgate pic is Cohen’s “first indie after 30 studio movies. You have to sacrifice on the action sequences and get them right faster because of the money,” said the helmer. “In exchange, you get a lot of creative freedom.”

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