As Tyler Perry Makes the Rounds on Madea Farewell Tour, He Explains Character’s Big Screen Presence Almost Didn’t Happen

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Actor/producer Tyler Perry continues to make the rounds on his “Madea’s Farewell Play Tour” but he hit a milestone during a stop in Los Angeles last week.

Perry portrayed the beloved stage, TV and film matriarch for a set of shows at L.A.’s 3,400 seat Dolby Theatre Jan. 23-26. He took to Instagram to thank fans who helped set a record for the show’s run so far.

“Thank you LA for 6 sold out shows!! You set another record for @madea there. The only artist to have over 10 thousand people in that theatre in the same day. You’re awesome! #MadeasFarewellTour,” the movie mogul captioned the Jan. 27 post.

tyler perry
(@tylerperry/Instagram)

Perry first announced he’d be hanging up his Madea costume in October, marking an end to the portrayal of the character he’s played for 20 years. The director told SiriusXM’s “Bevelations” that “A Madea Family Funeral” will be the 10th and final film featuring the matriarch.

“It’s time for me to kill that old b—-,” Perry said laughing. “I’m tired, man. I’m tired. I’m doing one last tour in 2019, the farewell tour, and the last movie is ‘Madea Funeral’ that I shot two years ago. So we gon’ say goodbye to her. Don’t tell her.

“I just don’t want to be her age playing her,” he added.

And while it may seem like Madea was always a beloved character looking back, Perry explained in a recent interview with Variety between L.A. shows that the character almost didn’t make it to the big screen.

After Perry’s first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” finally took off in 1998 after being on performed for seven years, his subsequent shows started to become a must-see for Black audiences. Once he achieved success on stage touring with 2001’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” Perry started taking meetings to adapt it for the silver screen.

“This is the one that got me: a white man at one of the big studios sat behind his desk and said to me, ‘Black people who go to church don’t go to movies, so this will never work.’ That was a moment for me. Because I’m seeing thousands of people all over the country come out for these shows,” Perry said.

Ever the hustler, Perry invested $5.5 million of his own money for the budget of “Diary,” which was directed by Darren Grant. The first Madea film — the only one of his films he did not direct — opened in February 2005 and grossed more than $20 million on opening weekend. It also debuted at no. 1 at the box office.

Since then, Madea has been the star of nine other films including 2009’s “Madea Goes to Jail” and two successful Halloween movies. She’s also made a cameo in 2008’s “Meet the Browns” and has appeared in several TV shows, like the TBS sitcom “House of Payne.”

Regardless of Madea’s longevity on stage and on screen, Perry is only concerned about the moviegoers’ response. They’ll soon say goodbye to the character, whom he once described as “exactly the PG version of my mother and my aunt.”

“I know what it means to people. It’s church, it’s vaudeville and where else can they get that experience?” he said to Variety.