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Interview: Terry Crews on ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine,’ Hosting ‘Millionaire’ and Defying Expectations

Interview: Terry Crews on 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine,' Hosting 'Millionaire' and Defying Expectations

Terry Crews is everywhere. In addition to regular television
gigs as Sergeant Jeffords on Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and host of
the syndicated “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” he maintains a
thriving movie career with recent roles in “Draft Day,”
“Blended,” and “Expendables 3.” And then there are the Old Spice commercials. And the book with
Random House
.

Crews took a break from his busy schedule to talk with S&A
about his career and what’s coming up next.

Where he gets his sense of humor:

My mom. One of my best memories is of me and my mother and
my brothers watching “The Carol Burnett Show,” and then we would
replay it ourselves and do all the parts. My mother would act like Carol
Burnett. She loves to laugh.

One of his favorite upcoming episodes of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”:

Jake falls for Sophia (Eva Longoria) and she’s a defense attorney.
We hate them because they get people off, and she’s defending the guy he
arrested. So I’m kind of this middle man in between them. All the detectives
are like my kids, and so I’m like, “You’re about to get in trouble.”
All the drama on the show happens around police work but you might as well be
in high school. Every character has that kind of story.

Bringing a different, more upbeat vibe to “Who Wants to be a
Millionaire?”

It’s just me. This is “Millionaire” with Terry
Crews. The Old Spice commercials will tell you, it’s really hard for me to calm
down because I get excited about things. I work out for two hours every day
just so I can be calm.

So energy is always part of my performance. And I like
people, and you can’t fake liking people. One reason I love acting is because I
study people. I really want them to win, I get excited for them, and I get just
as upset when they lose.

Defying expectations about athletes and ‘intimidating’ black men with
his comedic, lighthearted persona:

I stopped thinking about what people wanted me to be and
started thinking about what I wanted to do. As an athlete, you start to do what
other athletes do and what’s expected of you. But what I discovered is that
when you leave that and just do you, things fall into place.

I grew up in Flint, Michigan. It was a factory town, and
that’s all we knew. If you talked about anything different or tried anything
different there were people who would say, “What makes you think you can
do that?” And they felt they were helping you. Every human being is super
complex, but we simplify ourselves according to what people expect of us.

Getting involved in areas outside of acting:

Oh yeah, I’ve written some scripts. I have some friends that
I think are even more talented than me, and they’re really just beginning their
careers and I want to help put them out there. The way I ended up on screen, my
very first audition a friend invited me to, and I got it. But I always saw
myself being behind the scenes first, even before acting.

Preparing for the next level of his career:

My job is not to force Hollywood into making me a star. A
lot of people think they can will their way into it, but you don’t. People vote
on you. ABC came to me and said, “We would love for you to host
‘Millionaire.'”

But you have to work up to that. So my thing is to make
myself as valuable as possible. I’m still improving.

On his book, ‘Manhood’:

It’s basically a brutal self examination of everything I did
wrong and what steered me into being a better man. It was a cleansing
experience to write a book. You go through this sleep-walking dance every day,
and I basically had to examine myself and see why my wife and kids didn’t want
to be around me. I was on this masculine thing, like “it’s my way or the
highway.”

What prompted him to become an author:

My wife and I would go out and people would say, “He’s
amazing, we love him,” and I would look over and see her eyes roll. Because
Hollywood gases you up. But I had to let people know, what looks good ain’t
always good. You see successful people every day who kill themselves. And you
see people who don’t have a lot, but they’re happy. I’d rather write about what
true happiness is.

The whole book is to tell what happens for real, and you’ll
be very disappointed to see that I’m just like you. [laughs] I could easily be
Ray Rice, or in jail, or dead. But there were decisions I made that took me to
another point.

What’s next:

With “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” I couldn’t be happier
with how it’s going. Our job is just to make the best show ever, but it’s great
how the fans are responding to it. I’m doing another movie with Adam Sandler in
the spring, “The Ridiculous 6.” We’ve got more Old Spice commercials
coming up. And I’ll tell you one thing, Terry Crews is just getting started.

 

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