Tyler Perry

Mea Culpa Interview: Tyler Perry Talks Netflix Thriller & Twists

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Mea Culpa writer and director Tyler Perry about the new legal thriller. The filmmaker discussed the difference between filming drama and comedy as well as how he went about adding twists to the film. Mea Culpa will begin streaming on Netflix on February 23.

“When criminal defense attorney Mea Harper (Kelly Rowland) takes on the murder case of artist Zyair Malloy (Trevante Rhodes), the truth isn’t as obvious as it seems,” reads the movie‘s synopsis. “While she tries to determine the innocence or guilt of her cagy-yet-seductive client, it is uncovered that everyone is guilty of something. Tyler Perry’s Mea Culpa explores what happens when burning desire takes hold and things get hot … and dangerous.”

Tyler Treese: Congrats on Mea Culpa. This is such a fun movie, and I was so glad to see Kelly Rowland get such a great and interesting leading role. How was it knowing that she could handle being in almost every single scene of this movie?

Tyler Perry: Tyler? That’s pretty awesome, man. I felt the same. I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time. I wanted to work with her. She’s stunningly beautiful, so I knew the camera loved her in every shot, but I wanted to make sure that she could deliver. I’ve watched some things that she’d done over the past, and I knew it was all there. I just knew that she had to be in the right hands to be comfortable enough to bring it all out. I’m so proud of what she did. She’s truly a leading lady, and I’m hoping that everybody who sees it, every director out there who’s looking for someone to play a role, they’re calling her up.

One thing you’ve always done with your films is capture how uncomfortable family gatherings can be. Usually, it’s for comedy. Here, it’s definitely for tension. Tell me about your approach to the dinner table scenes.

For me, that’s usually where all the drama goes down — at the dinner table, around the kitchen. No matter what family or what race — something’s going to happen around something being cooked. So having that camera going around the table like a shark, knowing that something’s going on, and the whole dynamic between husband and wife and brother-in-law and Mother-in-law … it is something that a lot of people deal with and is pretty common. To have this moment in the movie, I thought, would be something a lot of people could relate to.

From a technical standpoint, does it change a lot depending on the genre? If this was Madea Culpa, would we be using the same type of movement there?

Oh, not at all. Not at all. Madea … well, if Madea was doing a thriller, which is something I would never want to think about doing, it absolutely changes. The direction of the lighting changes, the feel changes, everything changes for whatever the film is for sure. Comedies feel very differently.

There are so many twists in this movie. I never knew what to expect, but there is a limit. You can have too many twists. How was it finding the right balance?

I don’t dictate my script to myself when I’m writing it. Whatever the characters are telling me is what I’m writing down, whatever their, whatever, because I feel like I’m, I’m taking notes from these characters as they show up in my head. This person was that evil and that person was that evil — everybody had a voice and I just went for it. I’m glad you don’t feel like it’s too much, but my audience loves too much, so I just went for it.

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