07/19/2013 07:54 pm ET

Terry Crews At Comic-Con: King Of The Nerds


Terry Crews loves "Star Wars." This is something that I would never have guessed to be an interest of Terry Crews. In other words: It's not something I would imagine Crews had very many conversations about in the locker room during his seven years in the NFL. Regardless, Crews identifies himself as a "geek" -- and being at San Diego Comic-Con, he's in the right place.

Crews -- who, I must admit, is an absolute delight to meet in person -- takes over for Mr. T as the voice of Officer Devereux in the upcoming "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2." Regardless of that, it's been a nice couple of years for Crews. He's no longer just additional muscle in another "Expendables" movie -- he's actually acting (he was almost unrecognizable in the fourth season of "Arrested Development"). I get the sense that he's having the time of his life.

Do you like Comic-Con, right? I know you've been here before?
Aw, yeah. I'm a Comic-Con fixture right now. This is good, this is good.

In, say, 1992, I would have never guessed that you'd become a Comic-Con fixture.
That's true. I know! I was playing football back then.

Do you get to walk around? I'm sure you kind of attract attention, right?
You know what I do? Wherever I want to go, I go. And you just have to learn how to tell people, "No." And you have to learn, "Don't touch me." That's it. And see, the other thing is, I'm not Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton walking around. You know? But a lady needs the security. You know, I'm my own security. I'm built in. I turn around and I'm like, "Hey, man, don't touch me. Really." And the thing is: what I've discovered here at Comic-Con, is everybody's cool. They're fans. They want to be liked. It's all good.

If people here are being aggressive, it's just because they like you.
Yeah, exactly. And sometimes you just have to calm it down. You go, "Hey, hey, hey. Watch out, watch out, step back." And, "How you doing?" And you shake their hand and all that. But I had to go on the floor, because I am the biggest geek first. You know what I mean?

What do you like?
Well, first of all, I'm a "Star Wars" nut. I mean, "Star Wars" changed my life. I thought I was going to be a special effects artist, first of all. I mean, because I actually got an art scholarship before I had a football scholarship. So, I wanted to use all my art ability, because I was into painting -- I was into drawing, graphics. And the thing is, I thought I was gonna use that in a sort of special effects way beause I was a big fan of Rob Bottin and Rick Baker.

Rick Baker is amazing.
Oh, "The Thing" is one of my favorite movies of all time. That changed my life because I was like, I've got to do this. Something that scared me that much? It was the first R-rated movie I ever saw, and I was like, "Dude, I'm changed." And I thought that's what I was gonna do, so when I come out here and I see actual stuff -- I'm like "That's the real Iron Man outfit!" You know what I mean? I'm that guy.

I've been thinking about your career a little bit lately. You never phone it in. I was watching the early footage for the "Cloudy" sequel, and in the behind the scenes footage you're on there trying to force out tears. You're really into it.
Well, first of all, another thing I'm a big gigantic fan of is animation. I took my whole family to the first "Cloudy" premiere. This is where my whole family and I have had the best times together over the last six, seven years, is on animated movies. All the Pixar movies -- everything that comes out, we watch it, we're there ... and to end up in the movie, I've been waiting. Like, "When am I ever gonna get my shot?" I was on my agent. I mean, I literally was on them. Like, "Guys, you're not gonna be around very long."

How does that come about? Is it like, "Hey, Mr. T's not doing it; you want to do it?"
This is the thing, and I heard James Marsden say this, and it's the truth, man. A lot of people think that actors have choices. Like that we just choose -- you get the parts you can get. That's pretty much what it is.

You've been getting some really good stuff lately.
I know!!!

Like, it's one thing to be in the "Expendables" movies -- but "Arrested Development," you were really great in that.
Yes! Let me tell you something. To get a call from Mitch Hurwitz -- there was no interview. There was no audition. I got a call from Mitch Hurwitz saying he wants me to be in this new series. And he said, "And I got this character, and I want you to do it." And I'm going, "Holy cow!" When I got "Norbit" with Eddie Murphy, Eddie was like, "I wrote this part with you in mind." And I'm like, "He's serious!" These kind of things, that makes you go a hundred percent. Because I think they do recognize that I love the biz; I love what I do.

It's obvious. I think that's why people respond to it, because it's so obvious that you enjoy what you're doing.
I'm a fan first. Like, even from when we did the Old Spice stuff, it was weird because they were like, "We need a Terry Crews type." And they were like, "Well, why don't we just call Terry?" 'Cause they were like, maybe he won't do it now. And when they called me, I was like, "Dude, show me the concept." And they showed me the stuff. I was like, "I'm in! Let's go!" And then we've been going for years on this thing. You know what I'm saying? So I'm with it.

I feel that it rarely works out for athletes who try to become actors.
I have a theory that really kind of addresses that whole thing. First of all, I was never an NFL star. That's when you get stuck. You kind of get stuck. If you made $50 million on the football field or basketball court, people feel like, "OK, you got enough." You know? So I kind of snuck by. It would be like if Brad Pitt hit Powerball. People would go, "Oh, fuck! What the fuck is this?" You know what I mean? Somebody would shoot him.

I'm picturing him posing with that big check and a thumbs up.
Oh, dude, that would be wrong! Somebody would shoot him. Brad Pitt would get shot the next day.

Well, he'd probably donate it. I'm sure he'd donate it to something.
But, if he didn't? See, this is what it is. An athlete can't keep it. You know? If an athlete was that big and then became an actor, they'd say, "OK, that's enough. You've had enough. You've got too much." But with me, I had to start all over. When I retired from the NFL, no one knew who I was and I had to start all over. I ended up doing security in L.A. and I was just on movie sets and watching.

How did you get "The 6th Day" with Arnold Schwarzenegger?
It was the first movie I ever auditioned for, ever, and I got brought in. I was doing a TV show called "Battle Dome," which was like "American Gladiators," but it was to the tenth power. We were really knocking people out. It was crazy. And he was doing his kinder, gentler Schwarzenegger. You know what I mean? He was like, "Yo, we need family stuff" ... and I was scared to death because I didn't know what I was doing. I mean, I hadn't really acted before, but I was just like, "Don't mess up." That was my whole rule: just don't mess up. And the same thing happened on "Training Day." I actually came on the set of "Training Day" to watch Denzel, because a friend of mine was one of the executives over there. And he was like, "Man, you want to come see him?" And the director, Antoine Fuqua, came over to me and said, "Hey, man, do you want to be in this movie?" He said, "Look, take your shirt off, go to the roof. I'm gonna have you flip pigeons." And I'm going, "Wow!"

Do you critique your old stuff or do you not pay attention to it?
I gave it my best. This is the thing. If I hadn't have given everything I had, I would go back. But I gave everything. There were times when I did "The 6th Day" and they were like, "Hey, Terry, you're off for two weeks; you can go back home." I was like, "No, no, no, I'm gonna stay here." And they were like, "Really? Why?" But, see, I didn't know enough -- I was scared. I thought I'm going to get cut or they're gonna put somebody else in, so I wouldn't even go home. I mean, I gave everything I had to everything, so I was so happy to have this opportunity, it was just -- you know, it's all good. Yeah, it's all good, man!

Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.



Comic-Con 2013