There's more to Terry Crews than a Vanessa Carlton song and Old Spice commercials.
With 'Expendables 2' hitting theatres nationwide today, the former pro-football player caught up with VIBE to discuss working with the film industry's most kick-ass heroes, being anointed an action star and why the sequel is the "biggest thing" he's ever been a part of.
VIBE: What about your character is going to shock people this time around?
Terry Crews: The big thing is the black guy doesn’t die. I’m just going to say that right now. I’m putting that out here. There’s no spoilers here - I ain’t dead! That’s the shocker.
It’s not a horror film, so…
Yeah exactly. But still! Look, I’ve been in action movies where the brother always gets one. What people are going to be surprised about is the scale of the movie because the first one was really kind of a happy accident. It was really a hair string budget. People were excited on the Internet about it and then it gained momentum out of nowhere because no one knew everybody wanted those '80s movies back. It just became a monster. That was really what the first 'Expendables' did. Now this thing here is starting off in the monster stage and moving to the mega monster stage. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever been involved with.
What kind of monster action sequences did you pull off?
We went to Europe and blew it up, and when I say blew it up, we had structures and bridges specifically [built] to blow ‘em up. It blew my mind as compared to the first one. It’s on the scale of a Bond movie where it’s so gigantic and worldwide. Then we went to Hong Kong and filmed some things there. You get the feeling that the whole world is behind this film.
Describe the moment you realized this movie was kind of a big deal.
I do have one. We were in Hong Kong, and you start to realize what’s amazing and people don’t know [that] in Hong Kong, they’ve been making movies for years. It’s kind of like the Hollywood in the East. When I saw these stunt men come out of nowhere and start climbing up and jumping up on cables and Jet Li hitting people with real frying pans and kicking people in the face for real, [the staff] like, "Go, Terry, go!" And I’m like 'Holy cow!' I’m bad but I ain't taking a kick in the face for real. Those guys were the most amazing things I’ve ever saw and I mean there were no nets, no safety stuff. This is how the best do it.
What was it like working with an iconic line-up of action stars?
[I remember] one of the big things is that we were on this airport tarmac, there we were: Sly, Arnold [Schwarzenegger], Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, myself, Chuck Norris, all shooting at Jean-Claude Van Damme. That was one shot. And I literally said we are witnessing something that will probably never ever happen again in the history of movies. These guys are all the status of kings. Modern celebrity has kind of taken the place of kings and queens. These are people who in the most remote parts of the world [where] they know who they are. To see this all at once and me being a part of it, it was surreal. It was my 12-year-old dream coming to life. You really can’t quantify and put it on a plaque. It’s mine and no one could ever take that from me. Sly has made sure, and this is what I appreciate about him, he literally told me, “Terry, you take your place. You belong here. You are ready.” He basically anointed me as this action star.
How did everyone's fighting styles gel together?
We never trained together. What we did specifically was work on everybody’s style. Randy Couture is a martial artist; he had a wrestling style about it. I had big powerful giant moves, giant punches and kicks, and I had my gun, which is this AA12 [that] is a character in the movie all to itself. Each character had different specialties. Jason is the slick smooth European. Dolph was just crazy. We didn’t work together because he didn’t want anyone to have their own styles. We were all individual creating our own looks and styles and we had to have the workout that went right with it.
For those who may not have seen the first, what's the scope of the storyline?
The Expendables are for-hire and don’t have really any affiliation. [In the opening,] we're invading and had to free one of our own from being taken hostage. I don’t want to tell too much of the story but that’s what we do. It just goes to all those 'Dirty Dozen' flicks, a throwback in every sense of the word but reinvented.
How do the new characters fit in?
Liam [Hemsworth], Mr. Hunger Games, brings the youth to the set because we’re all over 40 [years-old]. Liam was awesome. He had to prove himself. Everybody in the original 'Expendables' went through a lot of things. Even me with the NFL background and Randy with the MMA stuff and Dolph was in action movies for years, we’re like, 'Who is this kid?' And Liam walked right in and killed every scene. He’s from Australia and understands you got to come in and prove it. He didn’t come asking of anything on a handout and nobody took it easy on him. He had this gigantic gun because he’s a sniper. They made him run up the hill about 25 times but he never quit. We were waiting for him to be like ‘I’ll be in my trailer’ and get angry. He never did. He earned all of our respect that day.
How about the only female on deck - Yu Nan?
Yu Nan is the female everyone’s been waiting to see. She’s from China and she was a killer, one of the toughest women I ever seen in my life. As a guy group, we didn’t feel like a girl could even really fit in but Yu Nan wouldn’t take no for an answer and always came through. She’s already been a huge star in China [and now] the West is ready to see her.
What’s in it for the lady viewers?
All the women are going to love Jason and Liam. Everybody knows. I tell everybody we’re the ugly crew. Not too much sex appeal over here. When Liam touches those screens, the world is going to swoon.
In what parts of the world was the movie filmed in?
You’ll get some very interesting time in these caves in Bulgaria, which have never been filmed before. We used Bulgaria for two months [and] blew the country up. They were 20 years out of communism and love the action movie genre. We also filmed in New Orleans and some parts of Hong Kongs.
Any final words?
'Expendables 2' is more of the same, but bigger!