In 2019, Tyler Perry was ready to say goodbye to his iconic character Madea after the release of “A Madea Family Funeral.” But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the next year, Perry realized that people needed some joy in their lives.
“There is just so much going on in the country right now with all the social and civil unrest and I wanted to do this movie to make people laugh,” Perry told Variety. “We all just need some laughter and I can’t wait for audiences globally to discover Madea for the first time.”
Perry celebrated the premiere of “A Madea Homecoming,” the latest Madea film and the first to premiere on Netflix, at L.A. Live in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Joining him were the cast of the family comedy, including Brendan O’Carroll, Brandon Black, Isha Blaaker, Jennifer Gibney, Candace Maxwell, Amani Atkinson and Geneva Maccarone.
“A Madea Homecoming” features a crossover between the Madea character and Mrs. Brown, Brendan O’Carroll’s character from the popular Irish sitcom “Mrs. Brown’s Boys.” At the premiere, O’Carroll said that the connection came about when Perry worked with Irish director Gerard Barrett on the 2016 film “Brain on Fire.” Barrett shared clips of “Mrs. Brown’s Boys” with Perry, who called up O’Carroll. The two instantly hit it off and discussed working together for years, but then Perry decided to retire the character.
“During the pandemic, he called me and he said, ‘You know what? People need to laugh,'” O’Carroll said.”‘We really need to get people back laughing. It’s been two years since this thing has been locking people up, keeping people apart, social distancing no hugs. And I’m a hugger, big time. But he said, ‘I’ve gone to Netflix and I’m going to take Madea out of retirement. What do you think?’ And I said, ‘I’m in.'”
The core cast of the “Madea” franchise are highly experienced in their roles, with many having played their respective parts for over 20 years. O’Carroll’s wife Gibney, who plays Mrs. Brown’s niece Cathy, said the ensemble of “Mrs. Brown’s Boys” has also been working together for decades, giving the two casts an immediate similarity.
“Day one, we walked on to set, and we were welcomed like family,” Gibney said. “I hope we give as good a welcome to anyone who comes to work for us.”
Like most “Madea” films, “A Madea Homecoming” tackles topical issues in between its raunchy comedic scenes. The film features the first gay character in a Madea film in the form of Tim, Madea’s great-grandson and recent college graduate. Brandon Black, who plays Tim, explained during the premiere that he hopes the character and his storyline will be able to provide representation for queer people navigating coming out to their families.
“They exist in families, they’re in everybody’s family and we haven’t seen it yet, so I’m so happy to be the one to show it to you,” Black said. “And with that, you’re going to see someone who’s opinionated, smart and secure with themself — he just needs to reveal this to his family. And I want people to realize, you don’t know how your family’s gonna react. So don’t hold back, you’ve gotta be yourself.”
With “A Madea Homecoming” hitting Netflix, the future of the “Madea” franchise is full of possibility. O’Carroll said during the premiere that he wants Mrs. Brown and Madea to go on a safari together in a new film. Perry, who has never been to Ireland before, is open to the possibility of “Madea Takes Ireland.” And there might be other crossover potential: Perry was recently nominated for a SAG award for his work in the cast of “Don’t Look Up,” where he played a vapid news anchor opposite Cate Blanchett. Could she be the next actor to appear in a “Madea” film?
“Madea would never share the screen with her,” Perry said. “Madea doesn’t like scene-stealers. But I would love to work with her again in something that’s worthy of her talent.”
“Tyler Perry’s A Madea Homecoming” premieres Feb. 25 on Netflix.