*So what did it take to bring veteran television, stage and film actress Diahann Carroll back to the big screen for the first time since “Eve’s Bayou?”
“Money,” she said with a straight face during interviews for “Tyler Perry Presents Peeples,” her first theatrical film in 16 years. “You think I’m joking, but I’m not.”
“Peeples” is like a black version of “Meet the Parents,” with working class Wade Walker (“The Office” star Craig Robinson) nervous to meet the wealthy family of his fiancée Grace Peeples, played Kerry Washington. David Alan Grier is the DeNiro of the clan as Grace’s federal judge father Virgil Peeples. Carroll plays the family matriarch, Nana Peeples.
Perry, only the film’s executive producer this time, yields the director’s chair to “Peeples” screenwriter Tina Gordon Chism.
Carroll said of her first time director: “I loved the writing of this film, and when I got there I discovered she was marvelous as a director.” The filmmaker got her start on “The Cosby Show and made her screenwriting debut with Fox’s 2002 hit “Drumline” before scripting “ATL” for Warner Bros.
For the record, Carroll later took back her “money” answer and said one of the highlights of this experience was how comfortable Chism made the entire set.
“I was definitely impressed when I walked on the set with everyone, not just the actors, but those that were around to help us do this or that. And I like the feeling because it was camaraderie,” said Carroll. “Very often it’s not, you know.”
Carroll’s indelible mark on showbiz spans six decades and includes such groundbreaking TV work as “Julia,” “The Diahann Carroll Show” and “Dynasty”; the cinema classics “Carmen Jones,” “Porgy & Bess” and “Claudine”; and memorable theater bows in “House of Flowers,” “Agnes of God” and “Sunset Boulevard.”
Throughout her career, she has endured racism and sexism, four marriages, beaten breast cancer and defied Hollywood’s unspoken age ceiling with her current role on USA Network’s “White Collar.” At age 77, the Bronx-born, Harlem-raised bombshell says her various life hurdles were never enough to take her eyes off the prize.
“Tyler Perry’s Peeples” opens in theaters on May 10. Watch the trailer below.