Crystal Fox and Bresha Webb on Shooting ‘A Fall From Grace’ in Five Days and Working With Tyler Perry
The strength of two women are put to the test in “A Fall from Grace,” the latest feature from Tyler Perry. This gripping Netflix melodrama tells the story of a young lawyer, Jasmine (Bresha Webb), who is feeling frustrated by her work in a public defender office. When her boss (Perry) assigns her the case of Grace (Crystal Fox), a middle-aged woman who has plead guilty to the murder of her younger husband, Shannon (Mehcad Brooks), Jasmine thinks it will be just another case in which she is in and out of the courtroom, as they only thing her client wants is to assigned to a prison close to her son (Walter Fauntleroy) and granchild.
Upon closer inspection, Jasmine realizes that there’s more to Grace and the circumstances surrounding the alleged murder than what’s in her file, and unanswered questions lead her to investigate further. Ultimately, it’s up to her to ignite the fire inside Grace so that they can prove her innocence in a courtroom. It’s not an easy task as Grace, once a model citizen, has become a shell of her former self. Jasmine’s journey is interwoven with flashbacks of Grace’s life and the events that led to her arrest, namely her whirlwind courtship and subsequent marriage with the charming Shannon, who quickly transforms after the ‘“I do’s.”
Fox and Webb recently sat down together to speak with Entertainment Voice about this gripping melodrama. Both women were attracted to the project not only because of Perry, with whom they have both have worked with before, but also because of the way the script dealt with important issues pertaining to the court system, women’s empowerment, and elder abuse. Webb was also compelled by the fight in which Jasmine finds herself. “She has a full journey in her story of the system being against her, everyone being against her, and she has to finally follow her gut, that is to find the truth, and she has to fight past everything around her to get to the truth.”
For Fox, the romantic storyline was a big draw. “It was the longing and yearning that was still within this woman as she’s ageing. I don’t think we get to see that on screen as often.” She was also attracted to the dynamic between Grace and Jasmine. “A lot of times they have women fighting with each other, but we needed each other in different ways. I’m telling you, I will always put my money on a determined woman.”
As meaningful as it was for Fox to bring to life this romance, which is rather sweet to watch unfold before events take a drastic turn, there was one tiny thing that she struggled with, and that was the sex scene between herself and Brooks. “I can’t watch it; I don’t want to hear it. When the audience was screaming, I ducked down in my lab, put my fingers in my ears and was like, ‘Lalalala.’” Despite the awkwardness she felt, it was important to Fox to represent a mature women comfortable in her sexuality. “I had to make it look good and believable for the older ladies, but inside, I was like, ‘Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!’”
Fox and Webb revealed that “A Fall from Grace” was shot in five days. The location of the new Perry’s newly-opened production studio in Atlanta, the largest in the nation, where sets were readily available, certainly helped move things along. Fox, who stars in Perry’s drama series “The Haves and the Have Nots,” also credits the professionalism of those the director hires.“You can rest and relax when you come to work and everybody is a pro at what they do. I know I had to do my own homework on my own time, and just hit it, and I felt like everybody that I was in scenes with did the same. There’s comfort you can have when you’re working with artists that know their craft.”
Added Webb, “There was a trust there as well.” Being over prepared also helped when it came to the condensed shooting schedule. “I came to set knowing the whole entire script by heart. I could say everybody’s lines [laughs]. That’s how we had to come to every scene and come full cup-runneth-over with emotions, ready to go… You just go and jump into the deep end, and you better swim.”
Luckily for everyone, the cast of “A Far from Grace” is comprised of multiple season pros, including Phylicia Rashad and living legend Cicely Tyson. Rashad plays Sarah, Grace’s best friend who encourages her to get back in the dating scene. At first glance, she’s a stereotypical gal pal, living vicariously through her bestie. However, once Jasmine starts investigating, it becomes apparent that there’s more to her than what meets the eye.
As for Tyson, it’s difficult to talk about her role without giving too much away. Suffice to say, “A Fall from Grace” keeps the viewer guessing. It has an old school women’s film feel at times, with plenty of twists and turns. Once certain things come to the service, there’s a tonal shift as Grace finds herself in real danger.
“When I found out I was working with Ms. Tyson, I just wept,” revealed Webb. “I just lost it in the office… I was just blown away when I realized what the cast was and that my name was going to be forever lined up with these amazing talents.”
What’s intriguing about the character of Jasmine is that she’s not one of those overeager young lawyers we usually see in legal dramas. In fact, before the court battle with Grace, she’s feeling so discouraged with her chosen profession that she talks of quitting to raise a family. Grace, meanwhile, is so emotionally exhausted that she’s ready to give up on her freedom. When asked if either women had any tough experiences in their own lives from which they drew, they opened up about the ups and downs they faced coming up as actresses.
“I could say, for me, in this business, it gets really trying,” admitted Webb. “I’ve been in this business doing this for about ten years consistently, doing drama, comedy, mostly comedy. You wait for that moment in which you can fully show your gift, fully show who you are as an artist, and get the platform. It’s not until now, that I’m living in this moment, that I’m really feeling like, ‘Oh, this is the moment that I can really show myself and who I am.’”
Chimed in Fox, “I’ve been doing this for forty years, so for you, I’m glad. Ten still feels too long when you have as much talent as you have.”
“My ten ain’t nothing compared to you.”
“No, no. It all counts. I’m just saying, I’m happy for you that it takes ten years, and it doesn’t have to take forty for you to be recognized for the gifted, talented woman you are in all of the various forms.”
Fox credits grace for her success, which is more than just the meaningful name of her character. “If it had not been for grace, I don’t think I would have persevered to this point, and this is one of the most pivotal points of my life and career.”
“A Fall from Grace” begins streaming Jan. 17 on Netflix.