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EXCLUSIVE | Tyler Perry's Assisted Living's J Anthony Brown on how the 'snarky grandpa' thrives on chemistry with David Mann

In an exclusive chat with MEA WorldWide, J Anthony Brown talks his new BET show and getting to play David Mann's on-screen nemesis as Grandpa Vinny.
J Anthony Brown as Grandpa Vinny, with Jeremy  and his wife Eah (BET)
J Anthony Brown as Grandpa Vinny, with Jeremy and his wife Eah (BET)

The first thing J Anthony Brown would like you to know about his character, the crazy grandpa Vinny on Tyler Perry's 'Assisted Living' is that he's not a grump. "He just finds the fault in everything and is very vocal about his opinions about what's going on in the house', the seasoned actor, comedian, and radio personality clarifies in an exclusive chat with MEA WorldWide. The 'nasty, lovin', weed-growing grandpa honestly has no f**ks to give, as the cool kids would put it. But things turn upside down when he blows up his grandson's inheritance on a tattered building that he plans on turning into an old-age home and the grandson, along with his entire family of four, shows up seeking the same. A funny concept made funnier with Perry's impeccable comedy and some of his longtime collaborators like David Mann and his wife Tamela, Brown tells us just why we might carry 'Assisted Living' in our hearts, longer than expected.

"I don't like doing auditions because I get so nervous and I don't do very well in them," Brown tells us about how the journey of the cool grandpa began. From absolutely refusing to audition for Vinny to coming across Perry at a radio show and inquiring from him about the role - it was surely destined for Brown to be a part of this character's journey right from the moment he heard about it.  And as we caught up with him on the brink of the grand premiere of 'Assisted Living', he shared just how fond he has grown of a character he wasn't quite keen on auditioning for in the first place."Vinny is not so much as grumpy," Brown tells us in his character's defense.

"I think sometimes grumpy people are not productive. He's just very, very vocal in terms of his opinion of things that have gone on in the house. So maybe in a way, he is kind of grumpy, but it's a great dynamic between me and Mr. Brown," says Brown about his on-screen nemesis played by David Mann. Mann and his wife Tamela play father-daughter duo Mr. Brown and Cora, who pop up in Vinny's life as investors desperate to invest in his new business venture. And while Vinny doesn't quite take kindly to that, Brown assures. "We have that chemistry where we're always going at each other and it's a lot of fun. It's just so hard to believe that we did 25 shows before corona hit real hard and we were finished," he reminisces. 

We asked Brown the reason behind the tiff between Vinny and the on-screen Mr. Brown, and all he could gush about was the incredible character David has created for himself. Originally a character from Perry's other long-term sitcom 'House of Payne', this crossover sitcom sees Mr Brown and Vinny constantly bickering and having a go at each other. But off-screen Brown is nothing but praise for the seasoned comedian. "David is unbelievable in terms of the character he has created. "If you create a character, your character can live forever. We just lost Chadwick Boseman in terms of the Black Panther. But that character will live. There might come a time when people might not remember who played the Black Panther or who is Batman, but you remember the character so you also remember who played those parts. And that's what David has done with this character. He has created a dateless Mr. Brown who will live forever. He's so funny, he's quick, and he and I are going at it on the floor in the show and it just leads to the great comedy."

As for the story of 'Assisted Living', without spoiling much, Brown teases how "You'll see Vinny still in jail. There are some things that happen within the show where he encourages Jeremy to stand up for them and surprisingly he goes further than what Vinny would think he would do. And that's tantamount to the great writing we have." That said, Brown's favorite moment from the series so far, in his own words is the "Scene where Mr. Brown and I are going back and forth and we're almost running out of insults. Nobody had any left anymore and to me that was very funny."

Catch Brown on 'Tyler Perry's Assisted Living' every Wednesday at 9/8c only on BET.