Interview: Terry Crews of "The Expendables" talks Heroes, Rick Ross and Justin Bieber
Wed, 28 Jul 2010 07:22:25
Terry Crews should teach classes on how to properly be a badass.
In The Expendables, his character Hale Caesar is the ultimate action hero. As part of the movie's eponymous mercenary unit, he's got a sense of humor that's just as explosive as any weapon in the team's massive arsenal, and he possesses the presence of a panther. Caesar can strike with a joke or an automatic shotgun at any moment. While on the film's intense main mission of overthrowing a despotic dictator, Crews fires off one-liners with machine gun accuracy and speed. He's also responsible for some of the most bombastic sequences in Sylvester Stallone's masterpiece.
More importantly, Crews offers up the most apt description of the film.
"It's an action orgasm," he laughs with a big smile.
That is exactly what this summer needs…
Terry Crews sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about The Expendables, becoming Hale Caesar, his current playlist and why being the underdog pays off big time.
Your personality definitely shows in Hale Caesar. Do you feel like you got to impart a piece of yourself on him?
Sly is great with characters. He wrote this and created it. He made sure everybody stayed in his own lane. If you've got two guys stepping on each other's parts, they just disappear. It's almost like Back to the Future. If you bump into your future self, you're gone [Laughs]. With The Expendables, he saw all of our characters. Sly loved me in White Chicks. He knows that I come from a comedy background, and he wanted me to be more explosive and just be that guy. He gave me some great one-liners; he really saw what I was. It was an honor to roll right into it. He'd rewrite stuff on the fly to make the parts fit our personalities. It was so good.
Were you able to vibe with everybody from the second you walked on set?
You've got to learn how to do that stuff. Coming from the NFL, you learn that you have to humble yourself amongst other people. When you go into a room and you take the highest seat, somebody says, "Hey man, that's so-and-so's place." Then you're embarrassed when you have to go back down. You learn to go take the low seat first, and then you get elevated. Someone will say, "No, you're over here." The people in this movie were wise enough to take a low seat when they came in, and then everybody placed himself. The camaraderie of the group was amazing. We really are a team, and it feels like a family.
What was on your iPod for Hale Caesar?
Oh man, I had a bunch of stuff. There was some M.I.A. and really hardcore rap [Laughs]. There was definitely a lot of Ice Cube. I like Cube all the time. I had a whole tape that would get me going. It changes so much though! I'm onto a whole different thing right now.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Janelle Monáe's The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) is the album of the year for me. I blast Janelle Monáe all day. Rick Ross's new album Teflon Don is insane. It's incredibly musical, and it feels like you're in Superfly if you listen to it [Laughs].
I'm still steady into Coldplay. With rock 'n' roll I go backwards with Sting and The Police. I like the older stuff more so than anybody brand new right now. I like Justin Bieber [Laughs]. Hey, he's produced by Usher! I dig Justin! That's my man!
The best line in the whole movie is when you come out with that big gun blazing and say, "You guys better remember this shit at Christmas time!"
Sly wrote that in. It's all about delivery. I've already got my Christmas Card ready because of that scene [Laughs]. This holiday season, there's going to be a picture of me with a gun on a Christmas card that says, "It's Christmas time, bitch!" [Laughs] I've come to refresh your memory, player! A lot of people love that line.
Do you feel like action movies can be a positive inspiration? The world could use more heroes.
Stallone is the face that launched a million workouts because it's all about inspiration. Everything you see him do you're like, "Wait a minute, I'd better get my life together like Rocky. I've been sitting on this couch, but let me get up." [Laughs] That's what this movie's going to do. It's literally about a bunch of losers. The characters all have lost something. The truth is, we as actors have all been on the fringe. In the NFL, I was on six teams in seven years, bouncing around. Mickey Rourke worked his way back. Everyone keeps trying to retire Stallone, and he comes back with this! He came back with Rocky Balboa and killed it. He came back with Rambo and killed it! Steve Austin is out of the WWE, and here he is! That resonates with every man. Every guy can say, "Damn, that's what it's about." It's the Brett Favre thing. People keep trying to put you out, and you end up one game from the Superbowl. This is what life is. People are always going to count you out, diss you and try to retire you. What are you going to do about it? That's The Expendables.
Well, it's an uplifting concept.
Guys are going to get choked up watching this movie. I got choked up watching 300. You're like, "These guys knew they were going to die." I remember watching LeBron James's movie, More than a Game. It was about how he stuck with his friends all the way up to being a champion. In The Expendables, we're sticking with each other. We decided that no matter what we've got each other's backs. That's all anybody ever really wants in life. It's a universal theme that Sly has tapped into like he always does. He's such a smart guy. People are going to feel the emotion of this movie beyond who gets killed and what explosions happen.
How much of a back story did Sly give you for Hale Caesar?
He let us make up our own deal. I have my own private back story. Sly said, "You don't really need a lot of it because you see where we're at." The audience is much savvier these days. He talked about movies like The Wild Bunch where it takes a half-hour to get to the first fight scene because there's so much time spent setting everybody up. The audience is so much savvy in regards to where people are in a movie. They're better viewers, and it doesn't take that much. A few words say everything. The dynamic is set up immediately. It's awesome. It leaves more for other movies which is why Sly is so perfect at what he does. He can keep the story going. You got all that, and you still don't know where we're from [Laughs].
Do you have a favorite scene—other than the one that inspired your 2010 Christmas card?
Watching Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sly on screen at the same time, something just goes through you. It's one of those moments. To see that holy trinity of action at once touches you. I'd pay the price of admission just for that scene. The fact we get all the rest is gravy.
Will you be seeing The Expendables on August 13?