Terry Crews's will to redefine his career has allowed him success across various entertainment media. In addition to starring in Old Spice commercials, this year alone the former NFL defensive end and actor has landed roles in HBO’s drama series “The Newsroom,” NBC’s reality competition “Stars Earn Stripes," the film "The Expendables 2,” and the forthcoming installment in the “Scary Movie” franchise.
During a recent interview with The Huffington Post, Crews opened up on his role as one of today’s leading African-American action stars and his transition into reality television.
What can fans expect from your character, Hale Caesar, in the latest "Expendables" movie?
It’s a lot more funnier than the first one. I think the tone is a little more adventure-oriented as opposed to the darkness of what the first [movie] was. And it’s a lot more of me in this one. [Laughs] This is pretty much the movie that Sly [Sylvester Stallone] had always wanted to make. When we did the first one, it was kind of like a whole bunch of restrictions involving scheduling and budget. And plus, studios were a little hesitant to work with a guy who’s in his 60s saying he wants to do an action movie. But they didn’t understand that man is Sylvester Stallone and whatever he wants to do, it gets done.
Of all the stars featured in the sequel, whose action film résumé most struck a chord with you?
Sly, Arnold [Schwarzenegger] and Bruce [Willis] goes without saying -- that’s like the holy trinity of all action. But what I was really excited about coming in on this second one was getting a chance to work with Chuck Norris. “Enter The Dragon” is one of my favorite movies of all time. And to actually work with a man who fought Bruce Lee in a movie just blew my mind. Chuck, he goes so far back to the '70s and that era of action films, so it was such an honor and so cool.
How does it feel for you to be looked at as one of this generation's leading African-American action stars?
I’m going to be real honest: I know for a fact that in the first "Expendables" it should’ve been Wesley [Snipes]. And I give him his props. Wesley Snipes broke so much new ground in a lot of ways when you talk about being an actor, from “New Jack City” to the “Blade” series. It was just a thing where he couldn’t do ["The Expendables"] because of some of the things that he was going through at the time.
I was like the fourth choice, and I don’t mind being the fourth choice. The matter was, I really took advantage of every little bit that I could do. And Sly told me, “I know that you’re new to this whole thing, but I’m going to make you an action star. And as long as you give me 100 percent, I got your back.” And I gave everything I had, even more so in this one. It’s funny, you never know where you’ll end up and the things you do. You just can’t explain it sometimes. And now I’m in this spot, and I ain’t giving it up. [Laughs]
If the idea of an "Expendables 3" comes to fruition, do you see Wesley possibly landing a role upon his release from prison next summer?
I would love to bring Wesley in, just to kind of correct it. I’m a fan first, and to see one of the greatest men of all time come back into this fold would kind of be like Jean-Claude [Van Damme] appearing in this second one. Everyone knows the back story as to why Wesley isn’t in the film; that’s why it would make total sense to bring him into the third one as a villain or something. And then it’ll be like, "There’s Nino Brown!” That would be hot! [Laughs]
In addition to Wesley joining part three, could you see any other past or present black actors being a part of the franchise?
I could see Carl Weathers, Sam Jackson ... For me, I could see us doing a spin-off with me, Michael Clark Duncan, Idris Elba, Michael Jai White, Tiny Lester, Carl, Wesley and Sam. We could do a black version; I could see it. There’s really no end. And we’re also talking about the nature of film right now, where one guy really doesn’t carry a movie. You have to give fans more for their money.
This week also marks the premiere of NBC’s new show “Stars Earn Stripes.” What was it about the show that attracted you to participate?
My manager had brought it to me because he heard about [producers] Mark Burnett and Dick Wolf doing this thing together. And Mark Burnett is the quintessential reality producer; I didn’t want to do anything that was going to look cheesy or hokey. And you have Dick Wolf, who produced “Law & Order.”
It’s also for American’s military. One thing I know is that my fans is from all over the military, big time. It struck a chord with me because I really wanted a challenge. I mean, the gym can only go so far. I’ve been working out for 30 years, but a chance to really jump out of a helicopter and put this body to some use and raise money for military and veterans' charities -- I just said, “This is too good.” I always thought that I could be in the military and this put it to the test.
As of yet, has anyone questioned your decision to dive into reality television?
I have a rule where it really doesn’t matter what people think. The rule for me is: do what I love and do what I want to do. I already exceeded all expectations in my career. So now I’m in uncharted territory, I can pretty much do whatever I want. From my Old Spice commercials, to the “Expendables,” to “Newsroom.”
I started out in reality. A lot of people are asking me, “why are you doing reality TV?” My first job was on a show called “Battle Dome,” where we were putting people in the hospital. [Laughs] So it ain’t no thing; I’ve done it all. Other people might be caring what their teacher at Julliard thinks about them and all of that, but I have no such thing.