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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Playing a grieving mother in a movie even as, in real life, your brother's death stirred the world would be hard for anyone, and for Janet Jackson the experience proved "intense" and "cathartic," she said.
Her new movie, "Why Did I Get Married, Too?" debuts in U.S. theaters on Friday, and has Jackson playing a self-help psychologist who suffers a family tragedy and then sees her marriage fall apart.
"It was very intense for me. Very cathartic and therapeutic at times," she told Reuters about working on the movie that was filming on June 25, 2009 when pop star Michael Jackson died.
"It was draining as well. Taking that home and eventually it leaving my body and getting up and starting all over again the next morning," said Jackson.
The younger sister of Michael and his Motown legend Jackson 5 brothers, Janet is a superstar in her own right, having sold millions of albums with titles such as "Control" and "Rhythm Nation" and acted on TV and in movies since she was a child.
In writer and director Tyler Perry's new movie, a sequel to his "Why Did I Get Married," Jackson portrays psychologist Patricia whose anger over her son's death fuels trouble in her seemingly perfect marriage to Gavin (played by Malik Yoba).
Jackson said she could readily identify with her character's emotions.
"Especially her not dealing with her own issues. That was something I used to do and would always suppress when those feelings came up for myself," Jackson said.
Like much of Perry's work, "Why Did I Get Married, Too?" borrows from comedy and drama as it interweaves the tales of several middle-class African American couples who are friends with Patricia and Gavin.
In the story of the husband and wife, they learn that everyone must be allowed to deal with personal tragedy in their own way.
"Everyone grieves differently, and the partner just has to be very patient and let them go through it. But they have to go through it. They can't suppress it and it takes time," Jackson said. "I was different about it than the rest of my family."
"Thriller" singer Michael Jackson died after he suffered cardiac arrest at a rented mansion in Los Angeles. His death has been ruled a homicide by overdose of prescription drugs, namely the anesthetic propofol.
His physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and has pleaded not guilty.
Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte and Reuters Television; Editing by Alexandria Sage