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About The Production
The movie's title, while the same as one of the Cross books, is not based on any particular book (although it's closer to the book Cross than any other book), but it does merge two astoundingly popular American entertainers: Tyler Perry and James Patterson.

"I am sure a lot of people were confounded when they heard Tyler was doing this character after Morgan Freeman did the role in earlier movies," says director Rob Cohen. "Tyler usually sticks to his own productions but if you read Jim's books, the character is a 40-year-old guy who is big and physical; that's Tyler. He's truer to the Patterson character from the books than what was previously done on screen with Morgan."

For his part, Perry admits to a little bit of trepidation stepping into the role. "Knowing that Morgan Freeman had done this role was very, very intimidating but also thrilling to know I took on something that Morgan said yes to," says Perry.

"Tyler is physically perfect," says Patterson. "And he's going to blow people's minds how good he is in a dramatic role because people have seen him do comedy and a little bit of drama but nothing like this."

"Jim knew that this movie was important because it's the origin story of the character. Since he created the character nearly 20 years ago, television is now chock full of procedural investigations that are 'walk-and-talks' so we had to take this to another level," says producer Bill Block.

"It's more of a man-hunt movie," says producer Paul Hanson, "and from a visual standpoint, there are locations that would be nearly impossible to recreate which adds to the cinematic experience. But to create that experience we needed someone who could envision things we couldn't imagine and we got pretty lucky that Rob Cohen said yes."

Cohen saw the potential in the script but realized that the Cross character had to be re-imagined from the books as well as the two movies (Along Came a Spider, Kiss The Girls). While the director, renowned for his direction of numerous action-oriented movies, realized that the cinematic experience he wanted to create could only truly come alive with some out-of-the-box casting.

Cohen met Perry in 2010 when he saw the actor in the stage production of "Madea's Family Reunion."

"I wanted to see what the Tyler Perry phenomenon was all about and after the show when we met I was amazed at how big he was and I told him, 'you could be an action movie star' and he sort of laughed and said 'well, maybe we'll work something out.'" says Cohen.

"Then, as luck would have it, Bill Block called me about this movie and wants to know what I thought about Tyler playing Cross and I told Bill that with his acting chops, his physical size and commanding voice that Tyler doing the role is a great idea."

Those qualities that Perry possesses are exactly what Patterson envisioned when he created the character of Cross nearly 20 years ago.

"Morgan is a great actor. But Tyler is much closer to the Alex Cross in books, physically and age-wise, in terms of his ability to do action," says Patterson.

Perry had to undergo some rigorous training in the self-defense art of Krav Maga used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies. "I trained about three times a week and it's the most ass-kicking workout I've ever experienced," says Perry.

Perry also went on ride-alongs with Atlanta homicide policemen to get some first-hand experience and from the movie's technical advisor and armourer Darcy Leutzinger, learned how to handle weapons.

When it came to casting Cross' adversary, Cohen went against conventional wisdom which would have led him to who would make the best villain. Cohen's take on it was that it should be somebody who could have played the hero, thus accentuating the ambiguity of the character. "I met Matthew Fox for another movie and while it didn't happen for us, I came away with the impression that he was intense guy and I remembered him.

"I thought if he could somehow wrap his mind around a villain of this proportion that he would be amazing and I really think he rose to the occasion of playing it," says Cohen.

To elevate the movie to another level, Cohen believed that it was essential Fox transform himself into something neither an audience nor the actor himself were familiar with. "Matt put himself physically and emotionally on to a whole different level," says Cohen. "This is a villain unlike anything anyone has seen."

Fox lost nearly 35pounds for the role creating a visage that has him looking gaunt, nearly skeletal yet leaving behind only sinew and muscle on his 6'2" frame.

"Rob is just a very, very cool director with amazing taste," says Fox. "He told me and I agreed- months before we started filming-that playing this part was going to require a big commitment physically. I felt I had to lose a lot of weight and get shredded down so that on the outside Picasso looked like someone who would have these disturbing ideas."

In a way, Patterson and then the filmmakers have constructed Cross as the most American of icons: a lone sheriff in the old west who enforces the law and looks for justice where he can find it.

"He's a civilized man who, as the movie goes on, loses his civilization one layer at a time until he's down in the depths with Picasso," notes Cohen.

By contrast Picasso's twisted sense of logic has him inflicting pain his victims or even himself, as he believes this is the only time that a person can be totally free. "He captures the moment with agonizing Cubist-like sketches because the character becomes more and more obsessed with the actual moment of death," says Fox of his role. "In his mind, he's giving his victims a moment of truly being alive before they die.

"He's very much of an existentialist and the notion of shattering people's constructs of right and wrong and the way the world should work, but he's essentially chaos personified."

To contrast the intensity of Perry and Fox's characters, Cohen cast Edward Burns as Cross' laconic partner Thomas Kane. "With Eddie, you feel like he's one of those guys who's gone through life really enjoying it and doing a minimal amount of suffering and a maximum amount of blowing out the jams," says Cohen. "His dad was a policeman as were other relatives of his and he understands how to play a cop."

"Kane understands that Cross is the brains of the operation and has probably been bailed out by Cross in the past," notes Burns.

And one of those situations is the issue of Kane having a relationship with co-worker Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols).

"The great thing about Rachel is that she is a very well-educated woman who has the kind of sassiness that I love," says Cohen. "When you cast a role like this, you need a woman who looks strong and vibrant - not someone who looks like they could be broken in half. Rachel is beautiful in a very real way and perfect for someone to be in secret relationship with Kane."

With the pieces in place it became apparent to Cohen that to create unique characters, he would have to get into the heads of his protagonist and antagonist. While Fox transformed his body and both he and Perry underwent training for the fight sequences, there had to be a mental transformation. "I didn't want these guys socializing off the set or chatting between takes," says Cohen. "The depth of hatred between these two characters is such that I wanted the actors to be a mystery to each other. I told each of them, 'let the other guy be a mystery to you and when we get on the set, sparks will fly.'

"And when I called 'cut' in their scenes it was like a prize fight: each guy went to his separate corner and that was fine by me."

Perry recalls his one and only non-acting encounter with Fox: "We met at the production office and he says, 'I'm Matthew.' I say, 'I'm Tyler and this will be the only time we'll be talking until we're done.' And he says, 'yep, you're right,' and we went in separate directions."

Production on the movie began August 8, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. While the story is set in Detroit, the confluence of the state of Michigan drawing back on its tax incentive program and the state of Ohio expanding its program pushed the filmmakers to shoot the majority of the movie in Cleveland. The Cross family home was filmed in the quaint neighborhood of Cleveland Heights. Other locales included XO Prime Steak restaurant in the Warehouse District, a chic mansion on the shore of Lake Erie in Bratenahl, a float boat on the Cuyahoga River, an old police headquarters office near downtown and the renowned Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron, which doubled for Giles Mercier's estate. Now, reduced to 70 acres (from its original 3,000), the estate was built by Goodyear Tire & Rubber founder F.A. Seiberling in 1915.

A dramatic set piece was staged in front of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse on Cleveland's Lakeside Avenue, where for three days production was able to fly a helicopter through the city streets, and stage a massive fireball explosion (replete with automobiles and stunt personnel being tossed about) as cooperative local authorities rerouted local traffic so that a substantial amount of city streets could be closed off for filming.

Production concluded in Cleveland on September 16 and then moved to Detroit for two weeks of filming. The gilded buildings as well as the beautiful decay of the city were show to full effect in a whirlwind two-week shoot in the city.

"It's a great, great city with astounding architecture, some of it preserved and some of it left to crumble," notes Cohen. In the script the character of Mercier pointedly tells Cross about how Detroit invented the middle class and was once the American heartbeat but now envisions the city reborn with industries of the future.

"Photographers and filmmakers love to film Detroit because it doesn't need much," says production designer Laura Fox. "The decay in buildings becomes so layered and textured with the light streaming in at the oddest of angles."

Fox and Cohen both referenced the books The Ruins of Detroit and Detroit Disassembled for inspiration.

The first day of the Detroit shoot was at the General Motors Heritage Center that has on display over 200 of the most innovative or culturally important cars from the last 100 years. A priceless collection in the 81,000 sq. ft. building in Sterling Heights, Michigan, it had Tyler Perry, Edward Burns and director Rob Cohen (not unfamiliar with cars from Fast and The Furious) agog in wonder as they and the crew were able to spend the entire day among these treasures.

The grandeur of the first day was a polar opposite on the next day with the squalor of the abandoned (in 1958) Packard Automobile Factory. The 3.5 million sq. ft. plant now serves as a home to innovative graffiti artists (including Banksy), paintballers, scavengers and trees that somehow are growing on top of the buildings out of the wood.

Production then moved on to the former Michigan Theatre, which partially serves as a threestory parking lot while the grandeur of the gilded and ornate 1920's plasterwork ceiling hangs mostly intact 60 feet above the cars. It is still one of the heartbreaking reminders of why Detroit was referred to as The Paris of The Midwest in the 1920s. While the building was abandoned in the 1970s, it was discovered that the adjoining building was structurally dependent on the Michigan Theatre, thus the building must remain while providing income via parking. It was here that serves as the staging for a climactic fight between Cross and Picasso. The sequence that takes place above the ceiling (in the catwalk), was a set constructed in a warehouse in Cleveland. In the 1890's the site served as Henry Ford's workshop where he built his first car, then came the theatre and now the automobile has reclaimed the space.

The venue probably was never witness to some of the action that took place during the filming including Matthew Fox opting out of having a stunt man take his place and being hung on a wire 60-feet above the ground. "The stunt guys made me feel very secure and I was able to relax to concentrate on the sceneā€¦but it was pretty interesting being up that high," says Fox.


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