It’s one thing to create art that connects with the culture, but a whole different game when it is conjured up alongside friends.

When They Cloned Tyrone premiered on Netflix during the summer of 2023. it was met with tons of praise from avid movie-watchers, but producer Stephen ‘Dr.’ Love says the road to creating the film was a long one.

“Honestly, it was a really long ride for me because the director [Juel Taylor] and co-writer of this film and his co-writer, Tony [Rettenmaier] were classmates of mine way back in grad school, so like 10 years ago,” he recalled to Blavity’s Shadow and Act. “Juel brought me this idea. It was literally just an idea. It wasn’t a pitch, it wasn’t a script… just an idea in fall 2017 at a coffee shop in LA.”

What they thought would be a small, independent project soon turned into the unimaginable.

“He was like, ‘I want to make this my first movie,’ and I was like, ‘Alright, let’s do it,’” Love explained. “It’s laughable that we thought about it as a really small, independent kind of thing as most first-time director’s films will be and it turned into, obviously, a much bigger thing.”

Love added, “I heard the idea and if I recall, his logline was basically three people in a rough neighborhood in the south realize that the government is doing mind control experiments on the neighborhood and had been forever and so they start to peel the onion back.”

Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Netflix

After a bidding war with Hollywood, followed by MACRO joining the project, the script was eventually sold to Netflix and as Love calls it, “the rest was history.”

Now, around half a year after its release the producer recalls one of his favorite conversations surrounding the film after audiences had time to actually digest and dissect it.

“One of my favorite discourses was people flat-out arguing about whether or not the older gentleman at the end of the film, for those who haven’t seen it, I don’t want to spoil it, but if he was Tyrone or not,” said Love. “Like, is he the original Tyrone? Is his name really Tyrone? And people flat-out argued about it. Because, obviously, he’s the original, there’s a bunch of other ones that have been created as we saw in other parts of the movie, etc.”

He quickly cleared up the rumors.

“That’s not the case,” Love continued. “His name is not Tyrone. I just answered that debate. The other favorite discourse, which is a little crazy, was that we used the Popeye’s Chicken chaos that happened during the pandemic as a thing to inspire our chicken joint in the movie, but that is not the case. Juel and Tony are brilliant writers and they actually created that idea in the original pitch at the beginning of 2018, which was a whole two and a half years before the Popeyes thing ever happened. So maybe we manifested that [laughs].”

With a film including stars like Teyonah Parris, John Boyega, and Jamie Foxx, Love says the energy that translated on set was unlike anything he’d ever experienced before.

From an unforgettable bonding moment with Parris over the beloved negro spiritual “Knuck if You Buck,” to being able to witness the brilliance of both Foxx and Boyega throughout filming the project, Love recalled a few stand-out moments that will live with him forever.

“My experience working with Jamie, John, and Teyonah was unforgettable because you know you’ve got Jamie Foxx in the mix, who is a complete legend, and OG, who knows everything about the business and has been around for a very long time and is beloved by a lot of people and is a superstar,” he explained. “Point, blank, period. But, when he walks on set, he’s just so grounded, chill… very much about the work, very much collaborative with our filmmaker who, again, was a first-time director. He could’ve come in and acted like the big star that he is, but instead, he came in really humble and wanted to be a part of a group in a real way and I think it shows on screen.”

He continued, “The other thing with Boyega is he is obviously British, right? You would never know if you didn’t know who he was beforehand and you hadn’t heard that… he would 100 percent pass as a dude from the South somewhere. I’ll never forget, we got this request from him that he needed a treadmill in his room, and I don’t think I’ve ever told that story, but we heard that he needed a treadmill in his room and we were like, ‘Okay, he’s just trying to workout.’ And to find out it wasn’t because he wanted to work out, but because that other character he plays, and I won’t reveal it because some people may have not seen it yet, is older. He wanted the treadmill so that he could literally create a different walking style just for that character. I don’t know how many hours he spent on that, but all I know is when he showed up to set, yes the look and everything helped, but he presented like an old man, did he not? He did not feel like this was John Boyega.”

2023 is just the beginning for Love, as he Shadow Force, an action pic starring Omar Sy and Kerry Washington, which is in post-production.