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Terry Crews Talks The Expendables 2
August 12, 2012 at 5:30 AM ET

Exclusive Interview by Angel Navedo for


Terry Crews Interview

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 entertain.

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 appreciate it.

CREWS: Oh, no problem, sir.

AN: Best of luck with The Expendables sequel.

CREWS: Thank you! Thank you so much.

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