Denise Boutte / Trina
The filmmakers Written, Produced and Directed / Tyler Perry
Produced by / Reuben Cannon
Executive Producer / Michael Paseornek
Co-Producers / Roger M. Bobb
/ Joseph P. Genier
Director of Photography / Toyomichi Kurita
Production Designer / Ina Mayhew
Edited by / Maysie Hoy, A.C.E.
Costume Designer / Keith G. Lewis
Music Supervisor / Joel C. High
Music by / Aaron Zigman
Casting by / Kim Williams (LA)
SYNOPSIS Following the success of his previous films DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN, MADEA'S FAMILY REUNION and DADDY'S LITTLE GIRLS, Tyler Perry returns with his fourth feature film, TYLER PERRY’S WHY DID I GET MARRIED?
A big-screen adaptation of Perry's hit stage play of the same title, TYLER PERRY’S WHY DID I GET MARRIED? is an intimate story about the difficulty of maintaining a solid love relationship in modern times. This heartwarming and often hilarious story looks at four couples on vacation struggling with issues of commitment, betrayal, redemption and the road to forgiveness.
When these eight married college friends reunite for their annual retreat in the snowcapped mountains of Colorado, they come expecting fun and relaxation, but get a completely unexpected surprise. Career-drive Dianne (SHARON LEAL) and her supportive, but fed-up husband, Terry (TYLER PERRY), are joined by popular psychologist and best-selling author Patricia (JANET JACKSON) and her architect husband Gavin, (MALIK YOBA), who share a secret tragedy that finally comes to light, while Angela (TASHA SMITH) and Marcus (MICHAEL JAI WHITE) argue constantly, but remain in love. Also in attendance is their good friend Sheila, (JILL SCOTT) a sweet woman with a distorted self-image stemming from weight issues that are exacerbated by her emotionally abusive and philandering husband, Mike (RICHARD T. JONES).
Unlike any other year, this trip changes the dynamic of the group with two new additions: Sheila's supposed girlfriend, Trina (DENISE BOUTTE), who is secretly sleeping with her husband; and Troy (LAMMAN RUCKER), an ex-Wall Street stockbroker who has put his career on hold to care for an ailing father.
Nothing could create more drama then placing these ten people in a secluded cabin for a long weekend with all of the dirty laundry waiting to come out. Everybody’s asking ‘WHY DID I GET MARRIED?’
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
“If I were whole, would I still choose you?” That question has resonated in Tyler Perry’s mind ever since his friend, Dr. Robin Smith, posed it to him as a question to ask oneself when considering marriage. “I thought it was a pretty profound statement and I kept that in mind as we were filming this movie,” says Perry, a Louisiana native who is single himself.
Perry’s fourth feature film TYLER PERRY’S WHY DID I GET MARRIED? shares the title with his popular stage play which toured the country several years ago. It also encompasses elements of drama, humor and spirituality, all typically found daringly infused into Perry’s work. Yet he says it’s a departure from the original work.
This film he describes as a window into the lives of four couples, all best friends from college, who vacation together annually. This year, however, when the group learns of one couple’s infidelity, it causes them to re-evaluate their own marriages, as secrets are unexpectedly revealed during a long weekend in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Suddenly, they are asking themselves, ‘why did I get married? Why did I choose this person?’” says Perry.
A signature in Perry’s stage plays and films are his use of ensemble casts. Therefore, Perry’s objectives for TYLER PERRY’S WHY DID I GET MARRIED? became two-fold: to pair actors who had great chemistry as couples; and to cast a group that would translate the warmth of best friends to the screen. The answer became award-winning international music phenomena Janet Jackson and Jill Scott, seasoned actors Malik Yoba and Richard T. Jones, newcomers Sharon Leal, Denise Boutte and Lamman Rucker, joined by Michael Jai White and Tasha Smith, who collaborates for the second time with Perry having starred in his previous film DADDY’S LITTLE GIRLS.
A creative dream come true for Perry came when Janet Jackson agreed to star in the film, though he admits to a genuine level of concern. “I’ve got to be honest,” Perry confides, “I had some apprehension about working with a mega-star. This was my first dramatic acting role and I was thinking ‘I don’t know if I want to do this. But when she came to work, there was no entourage, no diva status, no hundred people falling all over her. She just slipped right into the table read and got to work,” he recalls. Calling her a consummate professional and now a new friend, Perry says he was always a huge Janet Jackson fan.
The two had hoped to work together on one of Perry’s previous productions, but timing issues precluded their plans, as Perry’s filming did not coincide with Jackson’s album release schedule. Disappointed, they vowed to find another project in the future, so when this one came along, Jackson jumped on board. “I adore Tyler!,” she exclaims, recalling the speed with which she solidified her participation in the project. “When I received the script, I had a function to go to that evening, but they wanted me to make a decision right away. So I cancelled my plans and asked if they’d give me the weekend to read it, take it all in, and figure out my schedule,” she says. “I thought he had written a wonderful, very, very interesting script.” And from there, Jackson was off to Whistler and Pemberton, Canada where the first week of filming was to take place on location.
Continues Jackson: “I’ve been wrapped up with my music for so many years, but acting is where I started and it’s a great passion of mine. I thought it would be really nice to ease back into it with this very sweet movie after so many years of being away.”
Jackson and Malik Yoba portray “Gavin” and “Patricia,” an East coast “power couple” (he’s a thriving architect and she’s a best-selling author and psychotherapist) who are deeply in love. But there’s a major caveat in their marriage, which is never to discuss a painful loss that haunts them. “The thing that makes their relationship work is that they stay away from everything uncomfortable,” Perry explains.
Yoba agrees. “‘Gavin’ and ‘Patricia’ have the kind of relationship that’s perfect within its perfection,” he says. “They don’t address any hard questions to each other, so even though their relationship looks perfect from the outside, there’s still an undercurrent of tension between them,” he explains. Yoba, a veteran stage and screen actor who recently authored the popular book Please Return My Phone Call! Preventing the Demise of Personal and Professional Relationships, believes the key to all great relationships is commitment. “Tyler has a great line in the film. He says ‘two people have to be willing,’” says Yoba. “You must have that level of commitment where you don’t give up, because when one person isn’t willing, you can’t make it work. It’s like one hand clapping.”
In TYLER PERRY’S WHY DID I GET MARRIED?, the couple living without the commitment Yoba calls ‘essential’ is portrayed by international recording star Jill Scott and veteran actor Richard T. Jones. As “Sheila,” Scott plays a sympathetic underdog wife trapped in an unfulfilling marriage with a philandering, yet unapologetic husband whom she will never leave. “I couldn’t stop reading the script,” says Scott. “It was truthful, funny and relevant, so I wanted to be involved,” she says.
Because of Scott’s musical accomplishments, it was nothing short of an honor for Tyler Perry to have her make her feature acting debut in his film. It was also a creative coup to have someone as sensitive as Scott, whose music embodies the rare and essential qualities of honesty, introspection, and inspiration, play such a pivotal role in the film.
“Jill is the heroine in our movie,” says Reuben Cannon, Perry’s producing partner and four-time feature film collaborator. “She must call upon her spiritual gifts and strengths to survive an abusive marriage,” he explains. “She is outstanding. Her performance is truly beyond words.”
As “Mike,” Jones portrays a cocky investment banker who is myopic in his search for self-indulgence. “I play the bad guy,” says Jones, whose character is brash enough to bring his lover, a supposed friend of his wife, on the annual weekend retreat with their closest friends.
“Have you ever been in a one of those relationships where you try to push the other person away without actually saying, ‘Get out’? You try to mess up so many times to make them go and you can’t believe they’re still staying?” he queries. “Well that’s this relationship. You ask yourself, ‘What do I have to do?’ ”
Perry says he created this marital scenario as a reflection of what he often sees in marriages today. “So many couples who have been together for a long time, yet have fallen out of love stay together anyway,” Perry says. “In this case, ‘Sheila’ is very unhappy and has become overweight, but she won’t leave because she believes in her heart that if she tries harder, things may work out. So their relationship is strained and he’s just a complete bastard.”
Scott and Jones had an interesting emotional experience bringing this dynamic to the screen. Though mutually impressed by each others artistic talents, their goal was to portray an unhappy couple embroiled in pain and conflict. “‘Mike’ is harsh. ‘Mike’ is cruel and I know he definitely tries his best to hurt ‘Sheila’’s feelings,” says Scott. “So when Richard says things to me, he’s such a great actor that I feel like he means it. Afterwards, he always hugs me or wants to kiss me or crack a joke to let me know, ‘hey, it’s just the script.’”
“There are some things I say to Jill in this film and things that I do, which are shameful,” says Jones, who in real life is a happily married father of four living in the Los Angeles area. “Jill is so amazing, she’s just beautiful. I always wanted to let her know I cared about her,” he says.
An obvious lack of self-esteem keeps Scott’s character stuck in such a debasing relationship. To underscore her vulnerability, Perry made the “Sheila” character severely overweight and asked Scott to transform herself from a sultry size 14 to a corpulent size 28. To do so, Scott not only gained 30 pounds for the role, but also wore a custom-made prosthetic “fat suit” that had been created for her.
“It’s interesting how people would talk to me after I put on the costume,” Scott recollects. “We’d all be laughing and acting silly and talking, then I’d put on ‘Sheila’’s body and walk like her and hold myself like her and be really low and heavy. I would notice my cast mates looking at me with such sadness in their eyes. And I thought, ‘wow, this is going to be deep for me, really powerful.’ And it has been!”
As Troy, Lamman Rucker co-stars as a kind stranger who stands by Scott’s character when her husband does not. “There’s a purity, an honesty, a sincerity that comes through in Jill’s music,” Rucker says, “that ‘real sister-girl, down-to-earth, straight from Philly’ thing. She brings that same kind of honesty and sincerity to the role.”
It is the humiliation and betrayal that Scott’s character endures which causes the three other couples to reevaluate their own marriages. Perry portrays a successful pediatrician whose marriage is on the rocks, and opposite him as “Dianne” is Sharon Leal, who audiences will remember from DREAMGIRLS. “Dianne” is a career-minded young attorney trying to make partner at a prestigious East coast practice. She is singular in her motivation to achieve that goal and all else is secondary, including her husband and child. Though he loves her, Perry’s character has grown tired of he and his daughter taking a back seat to her profession. “We love each other,” says Perry, “but we’ve got some major issues that need to be worked out.”
Describing her character as contemporary, Leal says “she is trying to figure out how to balance success with some of the more traditional qualities that men appreciate from their wives. But she’s very ambitious and represents a lot of modern women who have not found that balance yet.”
After meeting a number of talented and deserving actresses, it was Leal’s audition in which she and Perry became embroiled in an unscripted and spontaneous marital argument that sealed the role for her. “We were really comfortable with each other and things came easily and just fell into place,” says Leal, who was thrilled that Perry chose her for the role.
“Tyler Perry is exceptional,” Leal continues, “because he wears so many hats and manages to stay grounded, calm, efficient and open. He’s also a wonderful director to work with because he gives you ample time for the rehearsal process and is always willing to explore your ideas and suggestions.”
As the film unfolds, we discover that Dianne harbors a betrayal that her husband must never discover. “This is one of those films that’s not supposed to give you answers,” says Leal. “It’s more of a piece to reflect on as you see yourself mirrored by the lives of these couples. Hopefully, people will look at it and relate.”
Director-Writer-Producer Perry describes the fourth couple in the film as “ghetto fabulous.” He cast actress Tasha Smith and actor Michael Jai White as the combative couple who argue publicly on a regular basis, but adore each other nonetheless. Audiences will remember Smith from Perry’s DADDY’S LITTLE GIRLS as the chillingly heartless mother “Jennifer.”
This time, Smith plays “Angela,” an outspoken and successful beauty salon owner married to “Marcus,” an ex-football player whose career ended unexpectedly from an injury. When everyone gathers for this annual retreat in Colorado, it is “Angela” who chastises “Mike” and the “other woman” and is relentless about exposing the deception to their friend. “There are people who want to say stuff, but just don’t say it,” says Smith. “But ‘Angela’ is going to say it – for you, for your mama, for your brother, for your sister. She’s going to say it for the world!”
White describes his character as laid back and Smith’s as “a take no prisoners” type. They are opposites in many ways and others might find them ill suited but they are clear on their relationship. “His friends ask him what he sees in her,” says White, “but sometimes it’s not about what’s on paper. I think of the lyrics ‘when a man loves a woman, she can do no wrong because loving eyes will never see.’ That’s how he feels about her,” White explains.
“Angela” and “Marcus” are like many couples who set out to attain one lifestyle, and find themselves living quite a different one. “Mike” had been on the fast track to a lucrative professional football career, but suffered an injury. Now, with his dreams dashed and “Angela”’s hair salon business booming, they have found themselves caught in role reversals. She’s resentful at being their sole financial provider and his self-esteem is dwindling as the man of the house. To make matters worse, “Marcus” is embroiled in “baby’s mama drama” with the mother of his children.
“There’s no manual on having the perfect marriage,” says Smith. “I think the biggest message of the film is forgiveness and remembering to love, that’s the root of a marriage.”
Because the film centers on the lives of a group of best friends who love each other, camaraderie punctuated the relationships of the entire ensemble cast. And with many of them being “method actors,” who “become” their characters, the actors spent much of their personal time in Atlanta building their familiarity to help it manifest organically on screen. Therefore, in true method form, actress Denise Boutte found herself ostracized from the female actresses on the set. Why? Because she plays the double-crossing vamp who befriends Jill Scott’s character, yet secretly sleeps with her husband “Mike.”
Boutte recalls dealing with her female co-stars during production. “It was so amazing to be working with Janet Jackson, who’s a musical legend, and with Jill Scott. And Tasha and Sharon are such fine actresses,” the actress recollects. “But on set, you’d swear we were mortal enemies because that’s the way we played it. I’d try not to hang with them too much, really, because it was like walking into a lion’s den. So I just hung out with the guys because they accepted me—probably because I flirted with them,” she laughs.
According to the National Center for Health, there are 2,355,005 marriages in the United States annually (about 600 per day) and 957,200 divorces per year. That means nearly half of all marriages in America end in divorce. When asked what the most critical key to a successful marriage is – psychologists, marital counselors, ministers, rabbis, priests and monks alike all point to one key element – forgiveness. For Perry, this is a common thread in all of his work. “DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN dealt with forgiveness and in many ways that theme was also evident in MADEA’S FAMILY REUNION,” explains Reuben Cannon. “In DADDY’S LITTLE GIRLS and in this film, characters have to draw upon their spirituality to survive…I’m so proud of this movie,” Cannon adds, “because it really looks at the complexities of marriage from many different angles and gives people something to think about while being entertained!”
With TYLER PERRY’S WHY DID I GET MARRIED? his third foray behind a film camera, Perry’s overall familiarity with the filmmaking process enabled him to more seamlessly interweave dramatic tension and humor throughout the story. “I made some higher steps and really grew on this one,” he reflects, “because I’m watching shots now like a technical guy and looking at how cameras are moving and following where they go,” he says.
Entertainment industry vet Cannon, who is also Perry’s producing partner and four-time feature film collaborator, says TYLER PERRY’S WHY DID I GET MARRIED? offers a refreshing take on one of the oldest, most established institutions in this country – marriage. “Marriage, by its very nature, is complex….so we’re giving audiences an intimate opportunity to see a handful of couples truly expose themselves and explore the reasons why they got married,” says Cannon. “It’s an interesting journey.
A casting director for more than 30 years, Cannon began the careers of many well known actors working in Hollywood today. Most notably, he cast Oprah Winfrey in THE COLOR PURPLE and Bruce Willis in MOONLIGHTING. For this industry veteran, one of the most gratifying aspects of teaming with Perry is the opportunity to give deserving actors a platform for their talent. “While I was casting for all those years, one of my great frustrations was being exposed to more talent than I could utilize,” says Cannon. “It’s such a joy and a treat for me to work with Tyler who embraces new talent at every step, whether it’s in front of the camera or behind the scenes.”
TYLER PERRY’S WHY DID I GET MARRIED? was shot on location for one week in Whistler and Pemberton, Canada where many of the film’s scenic vistas and exterior winter scenes were captured. Production designer Ina Mayhew researched cites in the United States and Canada that would remain cold and snowy during the month of March, when they were filming. Utah, and several other cities in the United States, was among their early considerations before finally settling on Canada. “Whistler was very, very cold and there was lots of snow,” Mayhew recalls, “so much snow that we had to remove it in order to shoot. Then it started to rain, making the snow very soft, so we ended up having big machines move it out and bringing snow from surrounding areas. At times, we had to make fake snow,” she recalls.
The remaining five weeks of production were shot in Atlanta at Tyler Perry Studios where Mayhew and her design team joined some 100-plus crewmembers to finish filming. There, they built the interior of the log cabin where many of the scenes take place. “We replicated the cabin in Canada but made the set larger so that it would be easier to shoot,” she explains. Many details went into building the set in Atlanta, such as matching the logs on the outside of the Whistler cabin with those inside.
But perhaps the greatest logistical challenge during production became filming a sequence on board an Amtrak train filled with passengers, which was traveling from Atlanta towards Alabama. For the sake of realism, Perry wanted the scene between Marcus and Angela (the couple who must constantly have a tête-à-tête), to be filmed on an actual train. Cannon explains. “Basically, we had to board the train, pre-light one particular car, shoot for the duration of the two and a half hour ride and be ready to disembark the train in our entirety in Alabama, because the next stop after that was many hours later,” he recalls. “We were not only able to do the shoot, but we left the train, headed back to the studio and shot another four hours for the rest of the day.”
Perry has high hopes for WHY DID I GET MARRIED?. “This film is also a real departure for me because in a lot of ways, it’s my first dramatic role,” says Perry, whose two all-time favorite films are the award-winning dramas THE COLOR PURPLE and SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. “I really wanted to show people another side of my work,” he says earnestly. “I hope people really enjoy it, because I loved making this movie.”
ABOUT THE CAST
TYLER PERRY (Actor, Writer, Director, Producer) Tyler Perry went from the poverty-stricken streets of New Orleans to a multimillion-dollar mansion outside Atlanta. But the real story is that of his journey from homelessness to bliss.
Perry’s rags-to-riches tale is astonishing and inspirational. His younger days were troubled, and he suffered from endless abuse growing up. The dejection and rejection caused Perry to do some soul-searching as an adult. In 1992, in an effort to find catharsis for his own childhood pain, and inspired by Oprah Winfrey to put it down on paper, he wrote a series of letters to himself. Those letters would be transformed into his first hit musical, “I Know I’ve Been Changed.” Perry’s humble spirit and his faith in God kept him focused. He believed that God was calling him to share his story with as many people as possible so that he might help others. Perry learned real forgiveness, deep down inside—a forgiveness that leads to success in the soul. He chose the stage life as a vehicle, and this new life has been a learning process, full of hard work. But now Perry has reached out to millions across the country and in doing so has tremendously altered how people perceive and attend urban theater.
In 2005, Tyler Perry took the nation by storm when the movie he wrote, produced, and starred in, DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN, opened #1 at the box office. In its first week on sale, the DVD sold nearly 2.5 million copies. At the same time, Perry was starring nightly across the country in a sold-out stage show he’d also written, produced and scored—“Madea Goes to Jail”—even as another one of his productions, “Meet the Browns,” was touring nationally. Together, the two productions sold out more than 500 shows in theaters from coast to coast. Every week in 2005, 35,000 people saw a Tyler Perry production.
Since making his film debut with DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN, Tyler Perry has become a multimedia phenomenon with a roster of hugely successful film, stage, television, and book projects. His second feature film, MADEA’S FAMILY REUNION, also opened #1 at the North American box office and the combined sales of his nine DVDs have sold over 11 million units. Perry's first book, Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries on Life and Love debuted at #1 on the New York Times' hardcover nonfiction bestseller list and remained in the Top 10 for eight weeks.
Perry’s third successful theatrical release was DADDY’S LITTLE GIRLS, which opened on February 14, 2006 nationwide. Most recently, Perry made television history when his new comedy series, “House of Payne, debuted on TBS and became the highest rated first-run syndicated cable show ever.
He has also completed a ten-episode pilot for a television series based on the hit play, “Meet the Browns.” Other projects currently in preproduction include a 1940’s drama entitled JAZZMAN.