You don't have to remind Tyler Perry that the character of Alex Cross has been played by another actor before -- he's well aware of Morgan Freeman's performances in "Along Came a Spider" and "Kiss the Girls." But, noted Perry, he's a little intimidated by Freeman's former role as a deity.
"One thing that gave me pause was Morgan Freeman; I mean, he played God in a movie!" cried Perry during a chat with TODAY's Savannah Guthrie Wednesday. "You never go behind God in a movie. But once I realized I had to do the best Tyler Perry that I can playing Alex Cross, I let go and it worked out very well."
He did not call Freeman for tips, either -- based on that very fact. "The man played God," said Perry. "How do you call God and say 'Can you give me pointers?' No, I didn't call him about it."
Which meant the director/producer/actor, who kept his skills to just acting in "Alex Cross," had to figure out his character on his own. The tough cop is going after a serial killer who takes a personal interest in Cross' life, which meant Perry -- who is more often than not seen on screen as the hefty, wise Madea -- had a lot of action to prepare for. As he explained, he lost 30 pounds training for the role by learning Krav Maga, the self-defense program of the Israeli Defense Forces.
"It's a kick-ass workout," he said. "Can I say 'ass' this early in the morning?"
Well, when you're Tyler Perry, you can do just about anything you like.
"Alex Cross" opens in theaters on Friday, Oct. 19.