The Actor That Inspired Tyler Perry To Create Madea

Tyler Perry's Madea is arguably his most popular character yet. First introduced on the play "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" in 2000, Madea soon made her way into the big screen, kickstarting a whole series with titles such as "Madea's Family Reunion," "Madea's Big Happy Family," "Madea's Witness Protection," and "Madea Goes to Jail." The latter, in particular, grossed over $90 million at the box office in 2009 (via Box Office Mojo).

Despite the character's popularity, however, Perry decided to retire Madea in 2018. Speaking with CNN, the director announced that the then-upcoming movie "A Madea Family Funeral," will be the last one from the saga. "I'll be 50 this year and I'm just at a place in my life where this next 50 I want to do things differently," he said at the time. 

"This character has been amazing," Perry explained. "So many people have loved her. It's been a great franchise." He didn't rule out bringing back Madea for the right opportunity, though. "She's also run out of things to say in my point of view," he continued. "So if there's something else for her to say maybe one day she'll return but for right now, no, I think I'm done." It looks like that opportunity came through, as Netflix and Perry recently joined forces for "A Madea Homecoming," arriving some time in 2022.

Where did the hilarious character come from, anyway? Apparently, Perry took inspiration from a popular '90s actor.

Tyler Perry 'needs to write Eddie Murphy a check' for Madea

In a 2010 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry discussed his career, including Madea. In particular, he revealed who inspired the popular character. "I have to thank Eddie Murphy," he said. Apparently, Perry became inspired after watching Murphy's "Nutty Professor II." "After I saw him do the Klumps, I said, 'I'm going to try my hand at a female character,'" he continued. "It was the brilliance of Eddie Murphy."

In the same interview, Perry even joked about owing the actor money due to Madea's success. "I need to write him a check," he told Oprah. "Say thank you." He later told NPR in 2012 that for the character of Madea, "I thought I'd imitate the funniest person that I know," referring to Murphy and his multiple roles as various members of the Klump family.

The love goes both ways though, as Murphy had nothing but nice words for Perry. In a 2019 interview, the actor praised the "Madea" creator, noting he has been portraying the character for years. "[Perry] looks like he just popped up, but he was making these plays and doing Madea all around, so he had a grassroots following," Murphy told IndieWire. Though they never worked on a movie together, Murphy filmed the "Coming to America" sequel at Atlanta's Tyler Perry Studios... which also hosted Will Smith's "Bad Boys 3," making this iconic Instagram picture happen. 

Apart from Murphy, Perry named even more people as his inspiration for Madea.

Tyler Perry also credited his mother and aunt for the character of Madea

As Tyler Perry explained to NPR in 2012, Madea wasn't solely based on Eddie Murphy's performances in "The Nutty Professor II." He also drew inspiration from some of the women in his family, noting, "[Madea] is the exactly the PG version of my mother and my aunt."

In the same interview, Perry described Madea as "strong, witty, and loving," just like his late mother was. "She would beat the hell out of you but make sure the ambulance got there in time to make sure they could set your arm back," Perry recalled, blaming it on her old-school mentality.

For him, that's exactly what made the character so popular. As he explained, people seem to miss that type of matriarch, though "everybody is so worried about being politically correct that she's no longer around." Speaking with Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2006, the Madea creator also said his mother is to credit for Madea's wisdom, while his Aunt Mayola was the inspiration behind the wig, voice, and the "gun in the purse" (via ScreenRant).