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Who's Talking to Chris Wallace
Interview With Retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer; Interview With Country Music Singer Shania Twain; Tyler Perry's Surprising Confession About His Most Famous Character, Madea. Aired 7- 8p ET
Aired September 25, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: Then they're demanding a full investigation into the woman's death and condemn Iran's record on human rights abuses.
Thank you so much for joining me this evening. I'm Alex Marquardt. Up next, CNN premiere of "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE." Have a good night.
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: Welcome to WHO'S TALKING and our first Sunday night here on CNN.
As you may know I've been covering politics for more than 40 years. But now I'm eager to explore some of my other interests. So every week we'll bring you smart, thoughtful conversations with a wide range of people from newsmakers to athletes, CEOs to comedians, musicians to movie stars, and everyone in between.
And tonight we've got just that for you. Starting with an exclusive. Retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, in his first sit-down since leaving the court, opens up about the Dobbs decision that ended abortion rights during his final and toughest year on the bench.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Was that frustrating for you to lose important case after important case?
STEPHEN BREYER, RETIRED SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Yes.
WALLACE: But how frustrating?
BREYER: Very frustrating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Then music legend Shania Twain whose singing career continues to thrive despite some brutal setbacks which would make for one pretty great country music song.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: You've got consider the possibility my career is over.
SHANIA TWAIN, COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER: Yes, I did. I believe that for seven years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: And later, movie mogul Tyler Perry. The brilliant actor, writer and director on his latest project unlike anything he's ever done. And I go head-to-head with his most famous character, Madea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TYLER PERRY, ACTOR: Why, I'm not doing that with you, Christopher Wallace. Well, I just don't --
WALLACE: I worked a lot on this question. Don't do that. Are you always like this? Are you saying parents are wrong?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
WALLACE: Will you come back?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Of course I will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: A week from tomorrow the U.S. Supreme Court starts a new term without Justice Stephen Breyer for the first time in almost three decades. But it's the last term, Breyer's final one on the court that may have been its and his most consequential.
We started our exclusive conversation right where his judicial career left off.
WALLACE: You had a bad final year. Some of the most important cases on the court -- abortion, guns, the power of the EPA to regulate the climate. You were on the losing side. Was that frustrating for you to lose important case after important case?
WALLACE: But how frustrating?
BREYER: Very frustrating.
WALLACE: I mean, does it -- do you grit your teeth? Do you --
BREYER: You do your best, you know, and maybe people will agree and maybe they don't. And maybe you'll win and maybe you'll lose.
WALLACE: But it must be painful because we're not just talking about theoretical cases here. We're talking about cases that really affect people's lives.
BREYER: Yes. Yes. And believe me thinking of some of the cases you've mentioned, I'm not sure you can think of an argument that I didn't think of.
BREYER: But -- yes. I thought I wanted -- I thought I had a correct point of view there. I did. And of course, I was disappointed. Of course, I was. So, now. There's lots more to this life and this country and there are a lot more ways on bringing people together.
WALLACE: Take us inside the court. We like to talk about a 6-3 conservative majority. Does it ever feel like separate camps?
BREYER: Yes, sometimes. Sometimes. Less than you think. Less than you think because -- but I can't say never. You and others like to talk about the 28th year. I was there for 27 years before. During these 27 years before, actually, we were unanimous about 40 percent, 50 percent of the time. And the 5-4s were about, I don't know, 15 percent, 20 percent, sometimes 25 percent. And it wasn't always the same five and the same four.
WALLACE: What was different in the 28th year?
BREYER: I lost a lot. You said it. Because I thought that 28th year I thought we had some cases that I thought were very important cases and I was very, particularly, sorry we lost them.
WALLACE: I guess the question I'm trying to get to is, as the majority in this 28th year, decided cases, important cases that you disagreed with. Did it ever get strained personally?
BREYER: What happens is we get on well personally. Example, when Renquist was there after the conference, where with two 5-4 decisions going either way on matters that were important we go to lunch together. So we're up in the dining room having a jolly -- sort of, a pleasant conversation. A pleasant conversation. And I say to Renquist, you know, isn't it amazing, here we are at lunch having, you know, a rather nice conversation with each other, sort of enjoying it, and just half an hour ago we were -- and Renquist says, I know.
A half an hour ago, he said, half an hour ago, half the court thought the other half was out of their minds. But we're getting, as people, as people we get on.
WALLACE: Let's talk about the Dobbs decision specifically that overturned Roe v. Wade. How damaging do you think the decision to say that women no longer have a right to abortion? How damaging do you think it has been to court and to the country?
BREYER: Well, the court went down in approval ratings, down to 25 percent. You don't know how long that will be lasting. We don't know. And you know, I say in my dissent that it would be damaging. All right.
WALLACE: How damaging to the country do you think it's been?
BREYER: Well, what did I say in the dissent? We had three of us writing a dissent. We thought it was for many, many reasons harmful to the court and we thought for many reasons it was generally a harmful decision. We thought it was wrong. And five people thought it was right. So the truthful answer is at this moment I don't know exactly.
WALLACE: In your book, "The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics," you write that if people come to see justices as politicians in robe, as junior league politician, as you put it, that's going to be very damaging to the standing of the court.
WALLACE: In your dissent on Dobbs, the three so-called liberal justices write, "The court reverses course today for one reason and one reason only. Because the composition of this court has changed."
Are you saying that this wasn't a legal decision so much as it was the policy preferences of a new majority on the court, conservative justices who'd been appointed by Republican presidents?
BREYER: You try to separate those two things. For most of my career as a judge I try not to. The groups who are interested in politics, really in politics, they wouldn't say there was anything else. And they work on a president to get a judge appointed who will have an approach towards the Constitution and who will have an approach towards the law that they believe will end up in a decision that will favor what they politically want.
WALLACE: A desired outcome.
BREYER: Correct. Now the judge himself, and it took me a long time to understand this. But the judge himself does not think he or she is being political. We do think what we think, right. And that is partly pure jurisprudence. Partly philosophy. Partly the way we brought up. Partly what we think about how the Constitution of the United States and the government of the United States and the Supreme Court of the United States fit among the governing political institutions.
But the point is people who have a, well, this is the way. This is the way. I've got it, point one, point two, point three. That is the way. Well, they will discover that the world doesn't quite work that way.
WALLACE: And are there people on the court now who say this is the way?
BREYER: You better ask them. Because I am saying I hope not. And --
WALLACE: But you're not saying no.
BREYER: You start writing too rigidly and you will see the world will come around and bite you in the back because you will find something you see just doesn't work at all. [19:10:04]
And the Supreme Court, somewhat to the difference of others, has that kind of problem in spades. Life is complex, life changes and we want to maintain in so far as we can, everybody does, certain key moral, political values, democracy, human rights, equality, rule of law, et cetera.
WALLACE: In May, two months before the Dobbs opinion, a draft opinion very close to what the court decided leaked to the press. How damaging was that both to the court and what impact did it have on the justices inside the court?
BREYER: Well, I don't know the individual impact. That was individual decision-making. But I think it was very damaging.
WALLACE: Within 24 hours the chief justice ordered an investigation of the leaker. Have they found him or her?
BREYER: I have, not to my knowledge, but I'm not privy to it.
WALLACE: So in those months since the chief justice never said, hey, we got our man or woman?
BREYER: To my knowledge, no.
WALLACE: Still to come, my conversation with Justice Breyer turns to the future of the court and a revealing answer about why he decided to hang up his robe now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: If you're going to miss it and you think you're up to it, why did you retire?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Justice Stephen Breyer left the Supreme Court as the institution is suffering from some of its lowest approval numbers ever. Breyer opens up about what that means for the future of the court and explains one of the big reasons he decided to retire now.
WALLACE: When the court starts its new term the first Monday in October, are you going to miss being there?
WALLACE: You are? BREYER: Yes.
BREYER: Why? Because when you think something through in a problem you have a chance to express your view and then you may have an impact. And I've always enjoyed it. I might have an impact with the books I write. That's far, far out an impact with a book. But an impact as a justice, you talk to your fellow colleagues, you talk in the conferences, you end up trying to produce something that, at least five and we hope more, can join.
And then if it works you've done the best you can in this small area of law to make it a little bit clearer or work a little bit better. And that's a satisfactory thing for me.
WALLACE: So if you're going miss it and you think you're up to it, why did you retire?
BREYER: You see, I'm 84 years old. I've done this for a long time. Other people should have a chance. The world does change and we don't know, frankly, what would happen if I just stayed there and stayed there. How long would I have to stay there? How long are people going to keep in the political world disagreeing and so forth and not being able to find who would be the next person? And I owe a loyalty to the court.
WALLACE: Maybe I'm reading more into it than you're saying. I sometimes do that. But it seems like part of your calculus was you wanted Joe Biden to be able to name your successor.
BREYER: Well, I certainly want someone to be able to. And you tell me, you're the expert. You're the expert. What are the risks because I don't know. If I stay there another year, another two years, you know, I'm not methuselah. And even another three years. Will it be possible for a president to nominate and to have confirmed my replacement? That's a kind of thing that's in my mind.
WALLACE: But wait --
BREYER: There have been delays, you know, when the parties split between control over the Senate and control of the presidency. And sometimes long times pass. And I would prefer that my own retirement, my own membership on the court, not get involved in what I'd call those purely political issues.
WALLACE: So the fact that it was a Democratic president and a Democratic majority in the Senate played a role?
BREYER: You have to be did it play some role, could have, but it depends on what the Republicans were.
WALLACE: Let's talk about the future of the court. This summer Justice Alito made a speech in which he talked about the Dobbs decision. And here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I had the honor this term of writing, I think, the only Supreme Court decision in the history of that institution that has been lambasted by a whole string of foreign leaders. What really wounded me was when the Duke of Sussex addressed the United Nations and seemed to compare the decisions whose name may not be spoken with the Russian attack on Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: after what the court did in this last term, can you honestly say, because they are going to hear cases on affirmative action, on voting rights, can you honestly say any precedent is safe anymore?
BREYER: Sure. Marbury vs. Madison is safe. And I could think of probably quite a few others. I'll show you something. This is the Constitution.
WALLACE: Yes, sir. I was going to ask you at some point whether you had your constitution.
BREYER: No, no, it's in my suit pockets. OK.
WALLACE: How many constitutions? Do you have them in various suits?
WALLACE: So that --
BREYER: They all say the same thing.
WALLACE: Well, I understand that. The suits don't all look the same, though.
BREYER: No. They look pretty shabby.
WALLACE: But in other words you don't want to -- you don't have a constitution on your bedside table that you take and put in your jacket. They are in the jacket?
BREYER: No. Yes.
WALLACE: OK. Just so you're armed.
BREYER: Because people ask me questions and I can look it up.
BREYER: Look. First words of Amendment One, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Alito thinks there are not as many people who are religious. When I look at it I think at the time they wrote this there were maybe four or five religions in the United States. And today there are a hundred. And he thinks, perhaps, we should pay more attention in the Constitution even if we're secular.
Even if we're not religious to those who it is religion. And I think what this means where you have a country with a hundred religions, and, by the way, people feel very strongly about their religion, that we ought to pay a lot of attention, a lot of attention, to the need to decide cases in a way that will prevent social discord stemming from religion.
WALLACE: You talk about social harmony but when the court undoes a right that people have lived with for half a century, doesn't that very much shake the authority of the court?
BREYER: Did I like this Dobbs decision? Of course I didn't. Of course I didn't. Was I happy about it? Not for an instant. Did I do everything I could to persuade people? Of course. Of course. But there we are and now we go on, and we try to work -- I mean, it's a little corny what I think but I do think it.
WALLACE: From the vantage point of being 84 and 28 years on the court, how concerned are you about the state of the country today and the polarization and the fact that what, you know, you may have had one view of an issue, I had a different view, but we both agreed on the ground rules and that no longer seems to exist in this country at least in some quarters. How discouraged are you? How worried are you about that?
BREYER: Worried. Devastated? No. We've had bad times before and we pull ourselves out. Not to necessarily make everything perfect. But we pull ourselves out to make them better. And that's why I want those students to go out there and participate. Really. That's what this document is about. It's their country and it's easier to say as an older person but I say, my friends, it's up to you now. Go do it.
WALLACE: Still to come. Tyler Perry has made us laugh for years. Tonight he talks about how the abuses he suffered as a child helped him become a big player in the movie business he is today. But first music superstar Shania Twain tells me how her life changed forever at the height of her career.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TWAIN: It was I either took the chance and gave it a try or I would never. I would just have to stop my singing career.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:27:39] WALLACE: Welcome back to WHO'S TALKING. Good country music songs are known for their tragic themes. And sometimes country music artist's life, like that of my next guest, play out those same themes. Shania Twain has worked hard to turn personal tragedy into motivation. And I started by asking her where she gets that strength.
TWAIN: I think every time something brings me down or tries to bring me down there's a -- it fuels more determination. I can't really explain it. But just I'm not going to be held down. I just have this determined nature.
WALLACE: Well, let's start at the top. And in 1995 you have your big first hit album, "The Woman in Me." And let's take a look at one of the videos.
TWAIN: All right.
WALLACE: It is such fun watching you watching you. What do you think? What would you say to that girl?
TWAIN: Well, whenever I see this video I think I was so naive in a lot of ways. I really didn't understand camera angles yet. I didn't understand how to make a video. It was all very new to me. It was early on and so I feel like I was in a girlish way still trying all of these things on. But at the same time, I was 30 already when I had my first hit off that album. So I hadn't maturity but I was still very, very new.
WALLACE: Your next album, "Come on Over," and let me make sure I got this right, is still the best selling studio album by a solo female artist in history. Here's one reason why.
So now, they're not only saying it's too sexy, they're also saying it's not country.
WALLACE: Did you care?
TWAIN: No, of course not. I cared about my intentions. And my goal, I had my eyes on my path and I was taking risks.
And there were times when it was a difficult shake. So, there were a lot of roadblocks. There were a lot of roadblocks. I just had to just keep pushing through.
WALLACE: So, I have a confession to make, which is around this time, I go to Yellowstone National Park on a summer trip with my family and we have a cassette of this album.
And yes, all of our family including me, sings this song --
(Clip from "Man. I Feel Like a Woman.)
WALLACE: So, do you want to join me in a round?
TWAIN: Yes. Do you get sassy when you sing this song? Which part do you sing?
WALLACE: Well, you can start, but I'll join you with, "Man --"
TWAIN: Oh, oh, oh, go totally crazy. Forget I'm a lady. Men's shirts, short skirts --
WALLACE: Yes, I like that part.
TWAIN: Oh, oh, oh, and, man, I feel like a woman.
WALLACE: I feel like a woman. Bam-bam-baram.
TWAIN: I like it.
WALLACE: I am a little embarrassed when I am -- I have told America that I'm sitting around the Yellowstone, going, "Man, I feel like a woman."
TWAIN: my whole audience sings it and it is a mixed of men and women. So, there's no -- yes, no worries there. You're welcome to sing it anytime you like.
WALLACE: Thank you very much.
I've now gotten a dispensation from tonight's show.
All right, now we're going to get to some of the rough parts -- 2004, you're at the height of your career, you're recording, you're touring and you get Lyme disease, and you lose your voice.
How bad was it? How bad was your situation with your voice?
TWAIN: I could not project my voice. So, I couldn't call out to the dog, for example. So, I was sort of speaking a little. I was speaking up here all the time in that tone and it couldn't go any louder than that.
WALLACE: You've got to have considered the possibility, "My career is over."
TWAIN: Yes, I did. I believed that for seven years.
WALLACE: So you ended up having surgery. And I love -- I was thinking of this question, and I was going to say, it's not just vocal cords to somebody in your profession, and frankly, somebody in my profession, operating on vocal cords would be terrifying. But in your case, it was more than vocal cords. Correct?
TWAIN: Exactly. So it was the whole larynx. The operation went through the whole larynx. So, I've still got a scar there.
WALLACE: Yes, I see that.
TWAIN: So the larynx is opened in four directions, completely opened up your throat through the Adam's apple and then into reach beside the vocal cords. So, it's -- they don't touch the vocal cords because my vocal cords are in excellent shape. It was a risk.
But I either -- it was I either took the chance and give it a try or I would never -- I would just have to stop my singing career.
WALLACE: Tell me about Mutt Lange. She takes a drink of water.
TWAIN: I had to take a drink of water. Well, Mutt Lange is a person that really taught me the most about collaboration. I'd always just been a solo writer. He was also my ex-husband.
So, we had a very long -- a 14-year marriage. Songwriting team, we wrote so many hits together. It ended very tragically for me. I was very sad that it ended in divorce. He left me for another person and I had to start over.
So, I was losing -- I lost my -- what had become my solid music collaborator, my music director, you know, being the producer of the music as well; and then part of my family. So it was very tough and I was also going through the -- I'd lost my voice at this point as well.
WALLACE: I was going to say, this was happening during...
WALLACE: ... your illness. It's not like he's -- I don't want to beat up on him, but he's not waiting until you're all better. You're laid low professionally, and now you're laid low personally.
WALLACE: Well, if a music video is the best revenge, you got even with a video in which -- it is pretty funny -- you dump Mutt out of the family photo.
WALLACE: Let's take a look.
(Clip from "Life's about to Get Better.")
WALLACE: How good did that feel?
TWAIN: It certainly felt great to be in that headspace by then. It is wonderful. You know, it was so wonderful to be able to smile again and to feel like I'm not -- I'm really actually moving forward and unstuck. I had to unstick myself. Nobody can do that for you.
So, by this time now, I'm making this video. I'm going through therapy. I'm getting to the bottom of how to get my voice back again, and I'm feeling empowered. I'm remarried. My husband is an incredible support.
WALLACE: You've released a song recently from your sixth album. Let's take a look at that.
(Clip from "Waking up Dreaming.")
WALLACE: That is a long way from country.
TWAIN: Yes. Good point. You are correct. It is a long way from country.
I mean, it's not really fair to say that stylistically it is that far away anymore, because country music has caught up in a lot of ways or accepts or whatever or explores fashion more, but this is very, even for me, I'm very much playing superstar.
I am dressing up and having a lot of fun with fashion and looks like never before. It's unlike anything I've ever done before fashion-wise -- fashion, beauty, and styling.
So, this was me really being that little girl and digging through the closet to find, you know, the most -- the craziest way I can get dressed up, so I've had a lot of fun with it.
And the song is very poppy. It's -- you know, it's high energy, bobby- poppy. I say, kind of like the whole styling of the song and the video is very much Prince influence, Cyndi Lauper influenced, Blondie. It's got a rock and roll edge. It's indulgent for me.
WALLACE: Well, you've learned indulgence.
Coming up: Our conversation with Tyler Perry, in a surprising confession about his most famous character, Madea.
WALLACE: My next guest is known to millions as the man behind the makeup of his signature character, the church going Bible quoting, gun-toting, Madea.
But now Tyler Perry is exploring other projects, including a new movie, he says is the first time he has enjoyed directing and that's where our conversation starts.
TYLER PERRY, ACTOR, WRITER, AND DIRECTOR: Everything else has always felt like work, but this I held on so long because of the waiting for the right time. But what was most important to me is that that was always intentional strategic, this was just love.
I showed up on set every day, I wanted every shot to be as if you could frame it. So every element, everything we had touched from the sets to the trees to the location, it all spoke to me and it was more than what I ever imagined when I wrote it 27 years ago.
WALLACE: I particularly enjoyed the big production numbers and let's take a look at one.
PERRY: Thank you
(Clip from "A Jazzman's Blues.")
WALLACE: Are you enjoying him? Or are you enjoying what you did as the director?
PERRY: I'm enjoying -- first of all, I'm super proud of him because this is his first big role. And Debbie Allen's choreography and, and also realizing that that is a gym. An old gym at the studio that we converted into a jazz club.
PERRY: Yes. Yes. So there was a lot going on in it, but it was amazing.
WALLACE: Oh, no, that's a theater in downtown Chicago.
PERRY: Yes, absolutely right. Absolutely right.
WALLACE: Please don't wreck it for me.
PERRY: Yes, yes. Okay, we sold it to you.
WALLACE: Yes, no, you did.
Now, that's Joshua Boone, who is the star of the movie, and he is just great in it. But I read a quote where he said, he wasn't sure at first whether he was going to sign on for this because while your movies made a lot of money, they didn't often get or ever get good reviews.
Do you think that's true? And if so, why? Why don't you get good -- or why hadn't you prior to this gotten good reviews?
PERRY: You know, yes, that is true, and that is fair. But what I know about it -- again, it goes back to the intentionality of it all -- I was speaking directly to my audience in a way that we speak a language that we speak that we get, and if you are a trained eye, you may not understand that or get it. So you know, the criticism is what it has been and what it was what it is, and that's all fine.
WALLACE: And one of the themes in the movie is colorism, and the idea that people are judged by it, even in their own crew by how light or dark their skin is. Why was that -- and you say you had written the movie, what? Seventeen years?
PERRY: Twenty-seven years ago.
WALLACE: Twenty-seven years ago. Why did you want to address that?
PERRY: When I started writing Bayou's character played by Joshua Boone, his father despised him and kind of took me to my own father and some of the problems that my father had with me is because I was a brown child.
PERRY: His favorite child was a very fair child. And they -- my father grew up in the Jim Crow South and endured a whole lot of things. So, there was this mentality of the lighter your skin, the better you were, and that lived on and still is on today, which is really shocking to me. So, I think that may be why subconsciously it showed up.
WALLACE: Before you did movies, who started writing, directing, and starring in plays and that's where you created your signature character, Madea, and let's take a look at --
PERRY: No. You want to show it, Chris. Go ahead. Go ahead.
PERRY: This is going to be funny.
WALLACE: What's the matter?
PERRY: Well, that's fine. We'll watch it. Let's see. I don't know what you're got to play. We will see. I am going to look this way. Let's see what you've got.
WALLACE: All right. All right, folks. Please, bear with me. He is not looking. Please look at -- I don't know why you'd have a problem with it. Here is Madea in a play.
(Clip from "Madea's Family Reunion - The Play.")
WALLACE: I'm so curious at your reaction. He didn't look at it, folks. Why?
PERRY: First of all, I've always been extremely uncomfortable in that suit and playing the character, but the audience loves it so much. I was going to do it for one little scene on stage and the lead character didn't show up. So, the character got bigger and bigger every night.
And that's where it all started. So, I love what it does for people, but the process to get it there and do it and all of that is a lot, so yes.
WALLACE: Do you feel that way about movies as well as plays about Madea? PERRY: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Of course.
WALLACE: Oh, so we are going to have a bad time here because I'm going to show a lot of --
PERRY: A lot of Madea? Well, listen --
WALLACE: Explain though. Who is Madea?
PERRY: Madea is a southern term cross for -- its crossword of "Mother Dear," but she is based on what I love about my mother and my aunts, but my mother and aunt are the PG version. She is the PG version of them.
PERRY: Right? Oh yes.
WALLACE: Because she has got some PG.
PERRY: Oh, no. They are in C-17. But she is definitely homage to all of the Black women in my life who helped form me to help me become the man I am, to just really inform everything about my life. So, she is somebody who would love you and take care of you, but punch you in the face if you said the wrong thing.
WALLACE: Well, that's Madea. I am a little bit hesitant because I'm about to show another clip.
PERRY: Okay. I'm with you.
WALLACE: Okay. All right. I mean, this is --
WALLACE: All right, in 2006, you turned that play into a film of "Madea's Family Reunion," in which you played not only Madea, but also her brother, Joe.
WALLACE: Let's take a look.
(Clip from "Madea's Family Reunion - Film.")
WALLACE: Well, and you shake your head. I've watched this for the first time three weeks ago. I think it's brilliant.
PERRY: Thank you. I appreciate that.
I'm not denying that it's great and funny, I enjoyed it, but again that's I have to disassociate that's actually me in that. Now, Old Man Joe, I'm fine with for some reason, but her, it is just -- yes, yes.
WALLACE: Okay. PERRY: But here's the thing, the audience won't let her go. Like even
the last time I did her, I said, I am out. I'm not doing it anymore. And then the world goes upside down. We have a President and the new President just -- so I wanted to make people laugh.
So I said, "What do I have?" I pulled her out, put the movie on Netflix. It is number one everywhere.
PERRY: I am like, okay.
WALLACE: It is great.
PERRY: Yes, yes, but the minute people stopped coming to see her, that old broad is dead. She's dead, man. She's dead, for sure.
WALLACE: All right, let's get this out of the way. You've had to deal with this at some point.
When Madea first started -- first came out, Spike Lee called it coonery, buffoonery, and over the years, there have been a number of people who say that you're playing with negative stereotypes of Black men and Black women. How do you --
PERRY: Emasculating Black men. I've heard it all. Yes.
WALLACE: How do you respond to that?
PERRY: There is a certain part of our society, especially Black people in the culture that they look down on certain things within the culture. For me, I love the movies that I've done because they are the people that I grew up with that I represent.
PERRY: So, when someone says this year, you're harkening back to a point of our life that we don't want to talk about and we don't want the world to see, you're dismissing the stories of millions and millions of Black people, and that's why I think it's been so successful because it resonates with a lot of us who know these women and these experiences and Uncle Joe and so on and so forth.
But what is important to me is that I'm honoring the people that came up and taught and made me who I am.
WALLACE: Coming up, Tyler Perry gets personal, and I get the Madea treatment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Can you give us a little Madea.
PERRY: Why, I'm not doing that with you, Christopher Wallace. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Welcome back to WHO'S TALKING.
In movies, some success stories start from a place of tragedy and Tyler Perry's real life story is no different.
WALLACE: You grew up in New Orleans, poor and the victim of a father who you say literally would whip the flesh off your bones. And that at one point you attempted to commit suicide.
I want to put a picture up on the wall here.
WALLACE: Well, when you look at that, little boy, that's you at five. What do you think? What do you say from this vantage point to that about your five-year-old self?
PERRY: That's hard for me to look. I look so much -- Jesus, I look so much like my son. The great thing about having a child now, seven- year-old is I get to say all of those things that I didn't get to say to my younger self, so I feel like it is helping to heal a lot of wounds.
But to let him know that he's going to be okay and he is enduring things that he has no control over. But as a man, I will pay it forward, I will try to be the best man that I can be because of what he endured. That's what I would tell him.
WALLACE: Do you -- and how do you feel about the fact that you didn't get that? I mean, have you come to terms with the fact that you didn't get that from your father? Or is it still an open wound?
PERRY: I've come to terms with it, but the beauty of it is having my son -- I'm telling you, every time I say I love him, I feel -- I feel it being said to the little boy in me. Every time I hug him, I feel like the little boy in me is being hugged. So every -- when I'm protecting him or we're building my model airplanes and out flying them, all of those things that I've never had as a kid, there's something in me that's being getting -- or being healed and massaged. And it's just a -- it is a beautiful thing.
There is something about having a child, especially when they're at the age when you experienced the most abuse, that if you're on the other side of it, it really speaks healing to you.
WALLACE: If you got a raw deal from your dad, you've got a great deal from your mom, Maxine, who took you to church weekly, and you say that saved you. Explain. PERRY: Just the understanding of -- she and I were enduring the same
kind of hell because he was very abusive to her as well. But on Sunday, she would take me to church and everything in church, the music and the gospel and the preaching and all of it, she would be crying and happy and joyous.
And for me, I wanted to be in that. I wanted to know that God that made her so happy. So, had it not been for her, I don't know where I'd be. My father, often, he sent a message to me a few years ago through my brother saying, "If I beat your ass one more time, you would be Barack Obama," meaning that he thinks that his abuse brought me to success.
But he totally negates the love of my mother, and the love of my mother is what brought me here. It wasn't the abuse, it wasn't the rage and the anger. It was her love that brought me to this place.
WALLACE: You talk about your son, Aman, who is now seven years old.
WALLACE: How seriously do you take your role or your position as a role model not just to your son, but to all kids of color to show them what success is possible in their lives?
PERRY: Well, just the idea of me being a Black man in America, I think any kid that's Black or Brown, who wonders if it can be done seeing me, I hope that that inspires them so that they know because I didn't have a whole lot of those people growing up.
So, the exposure changed my life understanding that there were people out there doing all kinds of incredible things. So, my hope is that everything that I'm doing will inspire in some other way.
So, I take it very seriously, from that point of view, from the studio to the movies to everything I'm doing to let anybody know who is a dreamer, no matter where you come from, if you're willing to work hard, not be a victim, though, sometimes the playing field is not level and you just have to do your best, you can make it.
So that's what my hope is for anybody who looks at my life.
WALLACE: Well, you say you don't have to work, but you're clearly going to work.
WALLACE: And I read that you said, I want to play in different areas than I have before. Like what?
PERRY: I have a sci-fi movie about zombies. I have been wanting to do it for a long time. So, I've got a -- I'm really excited about that. I am working on a World War Two movie, next. So, I just want to talk and tell different stories.
WALLACE: And what about Madea. What does she want to do? PERRY: Listen, if the audience wants to see her, she'll be around.
WALLACE: Can you give us a little Madea?
PERRY: Why? I'm not doing that with you, Christopher Wallace.
I just don't know if this is, I think you've got daughters. Christopher Wallace, I'm not doing it with you. But listen, as long as -- I can't turn my back on the very thing that brought me over. I'll never do that. My mother told me, keep Madea around, before she died. So, as long as people want to see her, she'll be around.
WALLACE: There's much more of our conversation with Tyler Perry, as well as our sit-down with Shania Twain and Justice Breyer.
You can catch our full interviews anytime you want on HBO Max.
Thanks for watching tonight. And please joins us here on CNN every Sunday night to find out WHO'S TALKING next.