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Netflix’s They Cloned Tyrone follows a series of eerie events that thrusts an unlikely trio onto the trail of a nefarious government conspiracy.
On the night of Friday, June 16, The Black Wall Street Times was present for the blockbuster premiere during the 2023 American Black Film Festival. The next day we caught up with co-writer and director Juel Taylor to discuss the film that had Miami moviegoers buzzing from start to finish.
Hailing from Tuskegee, Alabama, the USC grad says he never envisioned a life in Hollywood for himself. “I didn’t know anybody. I had no connections before USC film school,” explained Taylor. “That’s where I began meeting people in this world.”
He continued, “the thought of film school never even crossed my mind. I wanted to do video game design and make music. I loved movies but I didn’t know any filmmakers or what a script looked like, but I think you’d be surprised how many people say ‘yes’ when you put it out there in the universe.”
Netflix’s satirical conspiracy caper film They Cloned Tyrone premiere and screening took the spotlight as Taylor, Teyonah Parris, John Boyega, Charles King, Terrence J, Tabitha Brown, Chance Brown, Kym Whitley, Donkmaster and Mayor Dan Gelber joined to celebrate the occasion.
Before unearthing a twisted plot and attaching an innovative theme, Taylor says a deteriorated friendship led him to a chin-scratching philosophical question: “What is blame and what is responsibility?”
New Year New Juel
After reconnecting with an estranged friend during a recent New Year’s Eve, Taylor was tearfully taken aback by how unaddressed depression can affect rarely vocal Black men slugging through life while carrying heavy burdens.
Speaking of his friend and the titular Tyrone, Taylor commented on how unforeseen circumstances can quickly lead some to oversimplified stereotypes about a person’s true nature. “There are details we added to show he’s not whom he appears to be at first glance.”
Coupled with perfectly seasoned comedic timing, Taylor says he and fellow co-writer and USC alum Tony Rettenmaier balanced the dramatic script with a premise rooted in a joke as tried and true as a Caprice Classic.
So two guys named Tony and Juel walk into a bar…
Moments before the highly anticipated premiere, In&Out Customs pulled out a one-of-one classic car befitting an instant classic film.
Much like the fly whips which glide above America’s most nefarious underbellies, They Cloned Tyrone offers beautifully intricate introspections whilst hilariously focusing the lens on what many have considered normal for so long.
With a story expertly sweet and savory like his hometown favorite Jim ‘N ‘Nicks Bar-B-Q, Taylor explained, “We didn’t want it to feel preachy, it’s more about observations. We’re not trying to lead people to any particular conclusions.”
They Cloned Tyrone is the directorial debut of Juel Taylor, who also wrote Creed II.
After being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor explained though it may have taken five years to manifest the film, the original vision never changed. “Everything was about how it would make me and Tony feel as potential audience members and we built out from there.”
Add a soundtrack that fits better than your favorite shoes along with a three-headed-monstrous performance by Jamie Foxx, John Boyega, and Teyonah Parris, They Cloned Tyrone is the triple-threat crescendo of a lifetime.
Taylor spoke his intentions and the rest is history
Before an admittedly unexpected acceptance into the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Taylor reiterated the power of speaking his intentions, “I put it in the atmosphere and people started reciprocating the energy.”
Now as a first-time director Taylor surprisingly discovered, “I think more people want to help than you may think, humanity might suck at times but people on an individual level are nicer. It was surprising to see how many people were kind and lent their expertise.”
The film is produced by Charles D. King, MACRO, Stephen “Dr.” Love, Tony Rettenmaier, Juel Taylor, Jamie Foxx, and Datari Turner. The film is executive produced by Mark R. Wright, Kim Roth, Jack Murray, Federal Films, Dana Sano, Monte Lipman and co-executive produced by James Lopez and Poppy Hanks.
They Cloned Tyrone premieres worldwide July 21 on Netflix.
This interview was edited for brevity.