Terry Crews is so likable it hurts. And he’s an inspiration, having gone to college on an art scholarship, played in the NFL, done some of the truly hilarious commercials in the world, and parlayed his terrific comedic chops with his impressive physicality and tireless work ethic into something special. As Hale Caesar in The Expendables (buy it from us) gets to play guns with the big boys and has a blast doing it.
had the chance to speak with the man on a short but laughter-filled phone call that only made me love him more, the results of which await below…
Nunziata: How are you doing?
Terry Crews: Hey Nick, how’s it going man?
Nunziata: Thanks for you time, so much appreciated.
Terry Crews: Oh, you’ve got it bro.
Nick Nunziata: You’re making me sad here. I’m looking at the life you’ve accumulated. Any one of these achievements would simply make me tired. Is there a clone? How the hell have you been able to pull off the life before football, the football career, the movie career, and the crazy balance of so many diverse gigs?
Terry Crews: When you have a family and kids you do what you have to do. As a single guy you don’t even have to get out of bed. You don’t even have to bathe. Once you get kids and a family, and I got married the day before my twenty-first birthday. I was instant family. I knew I had to do it all. I may not be the best guy at what I’m doing but I will never be lazy. You will not outwork me. Everybody wants to party, I’m not going to party. I’m going to work on what I’m doing. It sounds really corny but all those things people tell you all your life about being diligent and that hard work pays off and ‘work on your gifts’. It works! It pays off! I turn around and all those hours in the gym and then a big movie like The Expendables. It paid off! It’s not wasted hours. It’s worth it. I thank God that everything I’ve been able to do I’m able to use it what I’m doing. I used to dance in high school and I use my dancing in all my comedies. Don’t waste anything. I’m going to do it all. Some people tell you when you reach a certain age ‘OK, you’re thirty, you need to stop doing whatever’. I never heard that. I plan on being this way until I’m ninety-five.
Nick Nunziata: Maybe you should take two days off when you’re ninety-five and reflect.
Terry Crews: It’s too late! That means it’s over, you just missed an opportunity! My wife’s will tell you, ‘dude he doesn’t turn movies down, he tries to makes things better’. I’ve taken movies I shouldn’t have. I learn from everything. I’m trying to single-handedly do these things. I’m doing this show Are We There Yet?. We’re shooting ninety episodes literally in less than fifteen months, This is the schedule I’ve always wanted. I love working. I’m Sam Jackson Junior when it comes to that stuff.
Nunziata: You’ve put up such a diverse array of work. I’m starting to wonder if there’s anything you can’t do. I’m waiting for you to show up in a musical.
Terry Crews: I’m waiting for the right one! Let me tell you I am waiting. My thing is: I try everything. I’m not afraid to fail. Believe you me, I have failed miserably at certain things. But then I realized, people aren’t looking at you that hard. People have to pay their own bills. They have to worry about their own lives. It’s not that deep! Just because you had a movie or project that failed or didn’t work out, it’s not the end of your life. I started to realize, just go for all of it. But when it works, it’s big. The Expendables worked big. It was huge.
Nunziata: The mixture of people in the cast. It’s seems like it was a bunch of guys with a similar work ethic. Lifers who had busted it and had persevered through various career pitfalls.
Terry Crews: I call it ‘a bunch of guys with bad credit’. When you have bad credit, you feel like your life is over. But you come out of it you realize you can rebuild your life. You look at life differently. You don’t see yourself as down any more. You can take risks other people wouldn’t take. All the guys in this movie never lived the safe life. Not one of these guys lived safe. We all have lived on the edge. We’ve all lost it all at one time or another. Sly is the number one guy. He was knocked out. People thought it was a joke. ‘You’re an action star… you’re this age, you should give it up’. He’s like ‘Bump This, why? Why should I ever give it up?’. And to come back and have the number one movie in America two weeks in a row in the middle of summer, it’s nuts!
Nunziata: Not only that. The kind of movie it is. We’re in a different age in what people define as an action movie. The ‘Everyman’. The kind of movies that Stallone and Arnold made worked in the eighties is the antithesis of what people expect now. It was a return to form and I feared people didn’t have the ability to embrace that. It obviously came at the perfect time.
Terry Crews: The perfect time. It’s what people wanted. It’s what they missed and haven’t seen in a long time. It’s sort become the time where they take the Disney stars and put some dirt on their faces and they go out there and be an action guy. They want to see some real people that did it. The big thing about our movie, a huge chunk of our fans were women. Women want to see real guys. There’s a whole bunch of women who are like ‘I don’t want a guy who looks better than I do’. I tell you what, we are the ugliest cast ever assembled in movie history.
Nunziata: There’s a lot of mileage in those faces.
Terry Crews: There’s not one pretty boy in the bunch. Not an ounce of cute. Maybe Eric Roberts has a little of the cute factor, but we’ve got nothing.
Nunziata: May I suggest a stronger glasses prescription if you think Eric Roberts represents the saving grace.
Terry Crews: That’s for real.
Nunziata: Randy Couture said he originally read for the Hale Caesar role, the role you ended up getting. It’s funny, I can’t imagine anyone else selling carrying those big guns the way you did.
Terry Crews: Dude, that’s how you know things are right. I did the same thing in The Longest Yard with Cheeseburger Eddie. A lot of people were like ‘we’ve got this four-hundred pound chubby dude who’s perfect casting’ and you come in and they’re like ‘what? He’s in shape!’. But now it’s to the point where no one imagines Cheeseburger Eddie any other way than the way I did it. Same thing with Hale Caesar. It’s a great thing when you can take a role to a point where no else can imagine anyone else in it. That’s the way I want to be at all time.
Nick Nunziata: I love the way the movie ends. Lundgren’s back in the fold, which is awesome and so Stallone. Moving towards the sequel all the pieces are in place and the audience loves the characters. It seems you guys are primed to take it to the next level.
Terry Crews:I think it’s the perfect return vehicle for Schwarzenegger also. What a way to return. I hope he comes back. What other way to come back than in the sequel to a number one movie. He could just waltz in and have the number one movie in America. I think it could be wonderful.
Nunziata: It’d be amazing. Because of how much comedy you’ve done, which is considered the hardest stuff to do… the physicality you bring so much more engaging. It helps to cut the intimidation factor. When people have seen the Old Spice commercials, it makes you so much more accessible. Did you ever feel like there was a passing of the torch to some extent being around these guys?
Sly is one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet. He’d do comedy more but he’s like ‘I did the Dolly Parton movie, nobody’s feeling me that way anymore’. He’s hilarious. He comes up with one-liners. It’s an era that existed. The same thing with Arnold. And Bruce! These three guys are some of the funniest guys ever. This is the passing of the torch. They blessed me with that. ‘Do your thing, we’ve seen you do it’. It’s a weird blend. I know I’m in a unique spot. Because of the way I look I can play intense and menacing but by being different it’s a whole other world. Being able to play comedy is a very rare trait and I appreciate what I have in this business.
The Expendables is now on home video all across this fine land. Hope you enjoyed my chat with Terry as well as the ones with Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture.