Handpicked by Tyler Perry for the role in his latest film
Gabrielle Union's been Breakin' All the Rules for years - haha, get it. But, at age 34, she's as free as she's ever been.
Now, she's playing up the role of Julia, a no-nonsense, business-savvy lawyer in Tyler Perry's latest film, Daddy's Little Girls. After not being able to find Mr. Right, Julia's decided she's giving up on men and focusing on the hard-nosed world of law.
That is until she meets Monty (Idris Elba), a down-on-his-luck guy from the other side of the tracks; after losing his daughters to his ex-wife, he must take on a second job just to support himself. And that second job - the driver to Julia. The two find out they're more than ready to find each other.
And that's exactly how Gabrielle acted when she spoke with us for this film. Laughing off rumors of a fling with New York Yankees short stop Derek Jeter, "I'm still waiting; at least if you're going to get the rumor out there, I'd at least like the memory. Like a 'Jeter something,' a t-shirt; this is the best non-relationship I've had. My mom called and wanted to know if she'd have to make one more space at the table. 'No mom, I'm not dating Derek Jeter; do you think I'd be putting this under wraps.' It's a great rumor, and he's a great guy, he's just not my guy. I wish I even had the dance; they said we were dirty dancing. I didn't even get a little nothing; this is fabulous. Next time, I'm going to try for A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez) and then I'm going to work my way down the Yankee lineup and see what happens."
But onto Daddy's Little Girls; Gabrielle couldn't help but admire her co-star in this film. "Yeah, it's a tough job; he's ridiculous. I didn't know him; Idris is new, and I didn't know him. Everyone was like, 'I got that, I got that.' I normally go to work in Juicy sweat suits; no, I was in full gowns. 'Oh, this old thing, Idris.' He's yummy."
How Gabrielle got this role is a little bit of a reversal from the norm. "I saw "Diary of a Mad Black Woman"; I'm a big fan of Kimberly Elise. I felt she got short changed in that film; she's carrying this film. I said, 'I want to do this.' I found out it was Tyler Perry, and just by chance, by coincidence, I happened to be sitting next to his agent on a flight - a well, thought out coincidence. I said, 'I'd love to work with Tyler, can you hook it up.' About a week later, he set up a meeting a week later, and he wrote the script for me, and we started shooting a few weeks later. We screen-tested a few men, and the only man on both our lists - I made a list and Tyler made a list - the only man on both our lists was Idris. It was a no-brainer."
Relating to this character was very easy for Gabrielle. "Being that he kind of wrote knowing my recent history, and having something missing, I grew up having my father as the provider, looking for that man to be the one who kiss you good night. But, I'm 30+, and independent, and a fully formed functional woman in society my whole adult life, and I don't need a daddy figure, I need a partner. So I can totally relate to Julia's path."
In the film, Julia has to deal with Monty's kids; Gabrielle couldn't get over how crazy they were on set. "Oh my gosh, they're awesome! These girls were like little sponges, and they're so polite; they're so sweet and they're so talented. They can sing their faces off; they have this little singing group. They were just amazing, and little China is like their ring leader."
Like a lot of Tyler Perry plays, the actors were allowed to adlib. "Certainly all the stuff with the girls, we adlibbed that," says Gabrielle. "He's an actor as well, so he understands; he wasn't like, 'These are my words and you're going to say it like that.' He allowed us to create, and if the words on the page worked, great; but if the words coming out of our mouths and brains, he shot that as well."
You can see Gabrielle in Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls in theaters now; it's rated PG-13.