Gone Girl’s Biggest Twist is Tyler Perry’s Superb Performance

Merrick Morton/Twentieth Century Fox
Merrick Morton/Twentieth Century Fox
In a film filled with nerve-frying twists and turns, the biggest one of them all may be the terrific performance from the man behind Madea.

An insignificant spoiler alert for those who have yet to see Gone Girl, David Fincher’s intricately dark mystery movie: Tyler Perry is superb in it.

Yes, that Tyler Perry: the man behind such lowbrow fare as Temptation, Madea’s Witness Protection, and Why Did I Get Married Too?, whose work has been described by Spike Lee as “coonery and buffoonery,” and whose films have been labeled by critics as “queasy,” “boring,” artless,” and “wretched.” If you come expecting that, you’re in for a surprise. Perry’s dazzling, hotshot Johnnie Cochran-esque attorney Tanner Bolt––a man nicknamed “the patron saint of wife killers”––almost steals the show from Gone Girl’s two leads, Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.

Again, Tyler Perry? Well, for all the rightful distaste his projects get from high-brow film circles, he’s not always a terrible actor; say what you will about Madea, but Perry can pull off the irritable cross-dressing elderly shtick well. Still, this performance doesn’t call for slapstick humor. It’s a “prestige” role, one Perry himself isn’t sure how he got.

“It’s so great, I don’t know how the hell I got in it,” he told Jimmy Fallon last week, echoing a similar sentiment Perry haters likely held last September, when Fincher first announced he would be appearing in the film. Even more bizarre: the Dragon Tattoo director allegedly cast Perry after seeing his miserable 2012 crime movie Alex Cross (OK, that movie features some terrible Tyler Perry acting).

“He called and said, ‘I’ve got this role that I’d love for you to do,’” said Perry, after being asked about the Alex Cross connection in an interview with Vulture. “And I was like, ‘Are you sure?’”

That story differs a bit when told by Fincher. According to the director, he knew Perry was right for the role after traveling down to Atlanta to search for locations to shoot The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

“[Perry] has a huge campus with seven or eight sound stages,” recalled Fincher, in Time Out Hong Kong. “As we walked up to the main building, I saw this guy on the roof, in a tracksuit with a radio-controlled airplane. He was flying it around in circles. Someone then said to us, ‘Mr. Perry will be right with you.’ I thought, ‘That’s who Tanner Bolt should be.’ He’s the guy who puts you on hold while he finishes flying his remote-controlled airplane.”

Fincher’s instincts were right. Perry’s Bolt is witty, slick, brilliant, and convincing. Like any high-powered attorney who charges $100,000 for a retainer, Bolt always seems to be one step ahead of the competition. He owns every location he’s in––TV sets, crime scenes, interrogation rooms––while having the unenviable job of convincing a man who may or not be responsible for his wife’s disappearance to step away from the ledge.

Yet his demeanor is more confident than cocky. It’s not an easy assignment, but Perry finds the balance. He’s able to look through the absurdity of it all, and even provide light commentary along the way. One scene in particular sees him pelting Affleck’s Nick Dunne with gummy bears in order to better prepare him for a nationally televised interview.

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SOURCE: The Daily Beast – Alex Suskind

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