Actor/director Tyler Perry has laughed off reports he will kill off his hit character MADEA, insisting the outspoken family matriarch shall remain a key focus of his films as long as fans continue to flock to the cinema.
Perry's latest turn as the foul-tempered grandmother in Madea Goes to Jail has been a huge success - the comedy shot to the top of the U.S. box office chart last month (Feb09) with an opening haul of $41.1 million (£29 million).
But the star was recently said to be contemplating making his next Madea outing, Madea's Class Reunion, his last - because it takes too much effort to transform himself into the character.
He said, "I would love to see Madea die a slow death in the next film.
"(She's) a whole lot of fun to watch. But to do it is a nightmare. It's all one suit that I'm zipped into, so it's all heavy. The hips are heavy. And the more I sweat, the heavier it gets."
But Perry insists his comments have spun out of control.
He says, "I have been saying for years that the moment people stop coming to see her, she will die a quick death.
"For years I've said this. Now, all of a sudden, it's everywhere that I'm killing her off. That's strange to me..."
And he reveals the reports prompted one famous fan to personally write in demand Madea be kept alive: "I got a letter from The Queen of Soul herself (Aretha Franklin) saying, and this made me laugh so hard, 'There are two things that have brought you over. One is Jesus, and the other is 'Madea'. And you better not get rid of either one of them!'"