Fans of Tyler Perry's Madea film franchise may not recognize the actor/director in his newest role -- and not just because he plays a man.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound star underwent a major physical transformation to turn himself into an action hero for the movie Alex Cross, based on James Patterson's best-selling crime novels. In addition to cardio and weight-training, he took up the Israeli martial art Krav Maga and completely made over his diet, swapping Cajun favorites like dirty rice and pork chops for leaner proteins like grilled chicken and ground turkey. The result? A 30-pound weight loss.
Perry opened up to Us Weekly about his new physique on the red carpet for Alex Cross hosted by The Cinema Society and Grey Goose at New York's Tribeca Grand Hotel Thursday night.
"I knew I was going to do the best I [could]," he said, when asked whether he ever worried he wouldn't get in shape in time for the film. "I don't put that kind of pressure on myself...I do the absolute best I can do. I wanted to be 20 pounds lighter than I was, but it is what it is."
The only thing that almost scared him off from the project was the fact that Morgan Freeman had played Alex Cross before him, in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider.
"I walked away from [the role] because Morgan Freeman had done it, and I did not want to go after Morgan Freeman, because that man is brilliant," he explained. "I mean, the man played God! But then as I read James' description, I realized he was basically describing me...so then I thought, 'This is it.'"
Now, he said, "I just feel really confident. I feel good."
He feels so good, in fact, that he has continued the grueling diet and exercise regimen he started before the film.
"The Krav Maga really helps to keep [the weight] off," the 43-year-old actor told Us. "And I'm laying off the donuts."
His one weakness?
"It's cognac," he revealed. "I like a nice glass of cognac in the evening. That's hard to give up."