"Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor," opening today, moves filmmaker Tyler Perry into sexier territory. Sacramento-raised actor Robbie Jones provides the passionate story's spark.
His character, a billionaire social-media mogul named Harley, "is the temptation," Jones, 35, said by phone from Los Angeles. "The whole movie is centered around that."
Jurnee Smollett-Bell ("Friday Night Lights") plays Judith, a married young woman with a master's degree in psychotherapy but few street smarts. Judith takes an internship with a matchmaking service for millionaires. There she meets Harley, who is as successful as Mark Zuckerberg but far fitter and more likely to doff his shirt.
Harley is looking to invest in the dating service, not find a date, but he's drawn to Judith. Their subsequent affair grows heated in every way, revealing Harley's less charming traits along with his seductive powers.
"He's a bit of a double-sided coin," Jones, a Cordova High School and UC Berkeley graduate, said of his character. "He is the guy you want to bring home to mom, but he has a dark side and is a bit unpredictable."
"Temptation" marks Jones' highest-profile film appearance yet after being a near-staple on the CW network. Jones has taken a recurring role as a publisher on "90210" after starring as a college cheerleader in the short-lived "Hellcats" and playing a a basketball star (Jones played in real life for Cordova High and Cal) in a memorable stint on "One Tree Hill."
Jones pops up throughout print and television ads for "Temptation," which, like all Perry films, hits theaters with a healthy opening-weekend box office showing almost guaranteed. Perry fans rank among the most loyal in entertainment, though the audience for this film might skew a bit younger than usual. "Temptation" emphasizes sensuality not a trait often associated with the filmmaker who gave us the no-nonsense granny Madea.
"This is the youngest cast he has had," Jones said. "Temptation" also features reality-TV star Kim Kardashian and pop singer-actress Brandy Norwood.
Jones said he was "privileged" to work with Perry. "He is such a brilliant filmmaker and a great guy. His success is almost immeasurable."
A standout basketball player at Cordova High, where his father, Bob, was his coach, Jones looks for pickup games when he returns to Sacramento, as he did earlier this week for a hometown screening of "Temptation." He also attends Kings games.
He would be "devastated" if the Kings leave Sacramento, Jones said. "I grew up with the Kings, and I know lots of people in the organization."
Though Jones has lived in Los Angeles for more than seven years, the Lakers never turned his head.
"Of the two L.A. teams, if you have to pick, I am picking the Clippers all day," Jones said. "I like the way they play high-flying and fast-paced. They are great games to watch."
Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118.. Follow her on Twitter @CarlaMeyerSB.