Terry Crews Talks The
August 12, 2012 at 5:30 AM ET
Exclusive Interview by
Angel Navedo for
There’s nothing funny about
a fully automatic AA-12 shotgun firing rapid, explosive blasts
through unsuspecting men in a dimly lit corridor until Terry
Crews does it. The notorious scene-stealing funny man will
reprise his role as the shotgun-toting Hale Caesar in
Sylvester Stallone’s ode to the action genre, The
Expendables 2, in theaters this Friday, and he’s
absolutely ecstatic about the opportunity.
Throughout the last dozen
years, the very versatile Crews has proven to be more than a
former NFL player using his size to fill up a frame.
Yet, if you hold Crews’
acting résumé next to the credentials of his fellow
Expendables, he’s kind of an odd man out.
His most notable roles have been in comedies, from crooning
Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” in White Chicks to
the excessively frugal Julius Rock in “Everybody Hates Chris,”
Crews often goes all the way in with absurdity to contrast his
muscle-bound build. It’s why Old Spice’s “P-P-P-POWER!”
ad campaign worked so well with Crews in the lead.
Rather than be intimidated by the perpetual Who’s Who of
Hollywood’s most revered action-genre stars, Crews immersed
himself in the experience. And he came away with some valuable
life lessons, which might suggest that The Expendables 2
is much more meaningful than just things going boom.
I had a chance to speak with Terry Crews this week for a very
real conversation about his first sequel, that comedic
background of his, and everything he learned while surrounded
by more than a century of acting experience.
Angel Navedo: Hello,
Mr. Crews. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. How
are things going? I imagine this media tour is keeping you
busy right now.
CREWS: It’s good. I love it. The hype is the whole
thing, man. I love hyping a movie. And to have a movie this
good to hype, is a dream come true.
AN: It makes your job a bit easier, I bet.
CREWS: (laughs) Yes, a lot easier.
AN: I noticed that this is the first time you’ve been a
part of a sequel. What’s that been like for you?
CREWS: Yes, this is my first sequel. So many people
wanted sequels to all these other movies, and I’m just
privileged and honored that this is the one. Movies in
Hollywood are like minor miracles, so any time you get a
chance to be part of a franchise, it’s rare. It’s too rare.
And I love it.
AN: What was it like coming back to the set and seeing
all these familiar faces?
CREWS: It’s wild because after the success of the first
one, you think it’d be a little awkward. We put that stuff on
and it’s like we never left the set. Randy and I were looking
at each other like, “Maaaan, it’s like we were just here.”
AN: Audiences expect sequels to be bigger and better.
Did that hang over the set at all?
CREWS: It was a tough shoot because we understood the
pressure we were under to really do much better than the
first. There are things people want and are depending on, and
you don’t want to be the guy to mess it up. The attitude on
the set was like, “Let’s come out and do double.”
It’s like the X Games, when one guy does three flips on a
motorcycle and then somebody tries four the next year.
Sometimes you just might not make it on that fourth (laughs).
We’re always serious about it, and I think we did it. We did
our four flips.
AN: The Expendables 2 boasts just about every living
legend in action still alive today. How many years of
experience was on that set in any given scene?
CREWS: Oh, there had to be more than a hundred years.
It’s incredible, man. We’re talking about a movie with Arnold
[Schwarzenegger], Sly [Stallone], Bruce [Willis], Chuck
[Norris], [Jean-Claude] Van Damme, Jet Li, and Jason
[Statham]. We’ve got Dolph [Lundgren] and Randy [Couture]. It
really got bigger and better. And it’s great entertainment,
because all of them get it. They understand that we want to
see them together. It’s a great time.
When I think about it, it’s like Chuck Norris fought Bruce Lee
in Enter the Dragon. That really puts things in perspective.
The fact that he’s in this movie, and did such a great job, I
don’t think we’ll ever see anything like this again in this
generation. These kinds of movies may be gone forever. Now,
the way action movies are done, a guy fights another guy and
flies away (laughs).
AN: In a summer dominated by comic-book movies, was it
critical to take superpowers out of the equation?
CREWS: One thing about this movie is that it’s real.
We, as characters, do things that real people would do. Osama
bin Laden was killed, and that was an Expendables-type
mission. People didn’t see behind the scenes, but that is what
the Expendables are about. They’re people doing things that
need to be done, and they’re accessible because we’re all
characters [the audience] can identify with.
AN: Was it difficult to adapt your comedic background
to a character-rich action film?
CREWS: You know, everybody knows what’s dramatic, and
everybody knows what action is when you blow something up. But
nobody really knows what’s funny, because that’s a very
subjective thing. Making someone laugh is something you have
to treasure. It’s a skill. You have to be able to laugh at
yourself, and be willing to bomb. I’ve had some comedy bits
that did not go over well (laughs). It takes bravery.
When you look at a guy like Jamie Foxx, who can do Ray like
it’s nothing, and earn an Oscar, you realize a lot of it is
because he’s honed his chops doing comedy for years. When you
shut the comedy down and get serious, you already know how to
AN: What’s the mean for drama?
CREWS: When you’re in a serious movie, and everyone is
serious, there’s not that kind of pressure. But funny is
intense and very, very, very hard to do. You have to get the
vibe of the audience to figure out what you’re doing. Comedy
is about taking normal things and making them funny and
laughing at the little tragedies in life.
AN: Laughing at little tragedies, like the shotgun
scene during the big battle in the first Expendables? That
ended up being a really funny scene. How much control did you
have over your portrayal of Hale Caesar?
CREWS: Let me tell you, Sly is one of the funniest guys
ever and a lot of people don’t know that. He wanted to do
comedies for a long time, but once he became Rocky and got in
his Rambo character, people just didn’t really accept it. He
did Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, he did [Rhinestone] with Dolly
Parton, but audiences just wanted to see him kill people. But
he’s so funny, man.
Sly is the one that told me to say, “Remember this shit at
Christmas!” after I blew through with the shotgun. There’s
even more of that in The Expendables 2.
He’s writing these subtle jokes for me. He’s such a talented
writer and people forget that. But he wrote Rocky and that’ll
probably go down as one of the Top 10 movies ever made.
AN: What did you take away from this entire Expendables
experience so far?
CREWS: I realized that these guys don’t feel entitled.
All the good ones, the biggest ones, and actors who last
longest don’t have that sense of entitlement. I’ve been around
a lot of different actors, and the ones that have a sense of
entitlement are here this year, and the next they’re gone.
There’s 100 percent effort into every second they get a chance
to do this. I got to watch how hard these veteran actors work.
Sly broke his neck in the last movie. Okay? A lot of people
would have quit, would have decided this is too much. He went
to that degree to make sure he could get his vision out there.
And you know what? Anybody who’s great, in any field, art, or
craft, has to have that sort of dedication. And that’s the
biggest thing I picked up. I realized, being around them, that
this is not a fluke. You have to earn every bit of it. There’s
no entitlement here and I loved it.
AN: Thank you so much for your time, Terry. I really
CREWS: Oh, no problem, sir.
AN: Best of luck with The Expendables sequel.
CREWS: Thank you! Thank you so much.
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