'They Cloned Tyrone': The Cast Is Way Too Good And Fly In The Genre-Bending Instant Classic

John Boyega and Teyonah Parris spoke with BET about one of this summer's must-see movies!

It’s about time we see Black people in Sci-Fi films playing the lead or leads in the case. A series of very unfortunate events bring together the unlikely trio of heroes: Slick Charles, Yo-Yo and Tyrone, played by Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris and John Boyega, respectively, to mistakenly uncover and triumphantly expose the eponymous “they” and their attempts to mind control and clone Black people from the hood.

"They Cloned Tyrone" could be considered Sci-Fi, but the genre-bending film is so much more expansive than that one category. It’s a conspiracy thriller with a comedic, nostalgic, yet new and exciting twist. Conspiracy theories run rampant, especially in the Black community and that’s no different in Tyrone’s neighborhood, especially when things start getting strange around the hood. Trap Houses with elevators that go below the earth’s surface into a lab, check! Folks going missing from the streets and returning with that new car smell, check! Jamie Foxx inhabiting a character with precision and perfect comedic timing, check! "They Cloned Tyrone" has all the elements of an instant classic.

Jharrel Jerome Is 13-Feet Tall And Rising sat down with stars Teyonah Parris, John Boyega and the film’s producer and director Charles D. King and Juel Taylor to uncover who “they” are, what it’s like acting with Jamie Foxx and more. What were some of the times on set that you felt really supported and it shone through in how you portrayed your character?

Teyonah Parris: I felt supported on the set at all times. I think what's really special about this film is we have Sci-fi mystery film with a predominantly Black cast, written by and directed by a Black man, also produced by Macro, which is a Black production company, and so the different ways in which I felt safe goes beyond what I can even explain because there's levels to it. I pray that it just keeps going in this way, that we all are given opportunities to shine in this way. And even our crew we had, we were in Atlanta, so our crew was very mixed and our department heads were Black. It was a set that reflected the world I live in, and particularly the world we the stories we were sharing, and so I think that also infuses into the story. How do you feel knowing that you're getting to be these Black characters, doing some Black uncovering, and doing it while being fly?!

John Boyega: It feels natural. What are we supposed to do? Uncover them and give them mistakes at the same time?!

Teyonah Parris: I think it is a really exciting time in cinema to have Black people at the center of Sci-Fi and at the center of mystery. And this mainly is genre-bending, we're in all sorts of genres, so we're just going for it. And like you said, we look good. It's a homage and a love letter to our history in cinema and just the culture in general, about how we're celebrating it and putting it on screen. It's been a good time! Conspiracy theories are strong in the Black community. In every conspiracy, there’s always a “they,” even in this movie title, there’s a “they.” Who is “they?”

Teyonah Parris: It’s the system, which oftentimes, we're not the ones in charge of the systems. We're not the ones who are creating these situations and the boundaries.

John Boyega: The government. The people who rule the countries. The principalities in power in high places. No spoilers, but there’s a scene where the whole hood comes together to have the heroes’ backs. That was really powerful. Can you share the significance of that?

Juel Taylor: It was super important to balance; they started as caricatures.You're trying to break these characters down and dimensionalize them over the course of the movie. Naturally, you would try to show that the neighborhood, it's more than necessarily meets the eye. They, the evil-doers expect something, but just because it’s something they expect doesn't mean it’s  the totality of the neighborhood. As you get deeper into the movie, you realize like there's different shades to this neighborhood and like, what they've been stereotyped as may or may not be the complete picture of the humans that live there. The humans that are there are capable of thuggery and altruism. You can do both. Nobody is one thing. When you get to the end, when you see the neighborhood, that's the neighborhood telling you who they really are. You hear the feedback from a lot of Black actors who feel like they have to eventually play a pimp, play a sex worker, play a thug, and the main characters are doing all three of these tropes. How does that make you feel as actors and then knowing that it was richer than that?

Teyonah Parris: It was an honor for me to play Yo-Yo and to be a part of this particular story that is highlighting people in our community who generally are marginalized. We start off with stereotypes of who these people are…archetypes into stereotypes into really humanizing them. And I strive to do that with all the characters I play. To be able to tell Yo-Yo’s story, like ‘Yes, this is what she does for work and she's also ambitious, she's also a leader. She's very caring, she's all of these things.’ And her story deserves to be told.

John Boyega: I love that the main goal is to feed the stereotype and just to layer these characters as you go along the movie. I have the opportunity of several different clones, different age differences, and different aesthetics, so it was actually kind of like four roles in one for me. Getting this chance to work alongside a giant like Jamie Foxx, how did that make you stretch ourselves as actors?

John Boyega: Jamie Foxx breathes fresh air into the scenes. I think it gives you the ability to imagine more, to make choices that you didn't necessarily feel you were gonna make before because of the improv. The scene can go in another direction when Jamie's taking control and leading it as Slick Charles. So it gives you a great sense of freedom to be able to explore the onset as you go.

"They Cloned Tyrone" is currently playing in theaters and will hit Netflix on July 21.

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