From the gridiron to Hollywood, Terry Crews seems to always be fully committed to the task at hand when he looks to accomplish a goal. The always energetic Crews looks to share his positive outlook on life with anyone who will listen. He even wrote a book called “Manhood: How to Be a Better Man-or Just Live with One” where he shares his insight on what he has learned so far in his life.
Currently Terry stars in the FOX hit show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” I had the great fortune to chat with Terry about fatherhood, acting, who he would love to work with on his next project, and how he seems to always be able to put a positive spin on things no matter the situation.
AE: I have to say that you are a guy who seems to have it all. You have a great family, great career, and a very fantastic personality. I love your zest for life. What keeps you motivated and always have a positive outlook in a very demanding career in the entertainment business?
Terry Crews: I am an incurable optimist. I have learned that you have to see the good in everything. This is a skill. It is not just something that you can get. You can pick up the other way too. You can be a pessimist because you practice pessimism. You have to say man I am in some traffic, but I got time to think. I got time to listen to that audiobook.
You learn to just reframe everything. I can’t begin to tell you how annoying my wife feels this is. She will be like alright dude stop it. She is like it is raining, stop it. I would be like rain grows the flowers and we always needed it. We need that water. She is like just shut the hell up.
I have to say that once you get it in you and it becomes a part of you it affects everything in your life. You never, ever get to see things the same way. You never see yourself as a victim. You always see yourself as proactive in your own situations. I think that is what everyone all just wants to do. Everyone just wants to make decisions in their own life and not be a victim to anyone.
AE: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is a very funny show. I heard that at first the producers wanted to have you play a very quiet and soft spoken guy. How long did it take for them to realize that they needed to switch up your character?
TC: It took one night. (Both laugh.) After the first day of filming Dan Gore gives me a call. He says that they made a mistake. He said that we needed to switch this around because I am just this too big of a personality to play this demur and quiet role.
We switched it around so he could be more like me. I always look at it as a compliment to the producers. A lot of times guys at that stage don’t want to be viewed as being wrong. They knew that they needed to make a change and make it right. That is why “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is so good. If they see that they are going in the wrong direction they change it immediately. That is why we are flowing so fast. It feels like we are in our seventh season, but we are actually in Season 2. Our characters have developed so much that our fans and our people really have a fever pitch going behind it. I feel like I have really hit the jackpot.
AE: That cast is fantastic and hilarious. Who on the set is always cracking people up? Is someone always trying pull pranks on the set?
TC: We don’t pull pranks. First of all there are too many grown people here. (Both laugh.) We are like we got to get this money. Do you know who cracks us up all the time, non-stop?
AE: Who is that?
TC: It is Chelsea Peretti. Chelsea Peretti is one of the funniest women, funniest people that I have ever seen in my entire life. She keeps us rolling with her observations and her quirkiness. I think that she is a modern day Carol Burnett to be honest with you. I really look forward to her comedy special. It looks hilarious. I am just a fan. I am like her biggest fan in the world.
TC: We have had a bunch this year so far. Eva Longoria, Ed Helms, Steven Roo, Nick Cannon, Sandra Bernhard. The list just keeps going on and on. It has been really, really cool. Gray Marshall came through. We had the legendary director, Gary Marshall.
To have that kind of love and have people show up is great. Kiera Swedgewick. I got to say her too. People are showing up because they love the show and they want to be a part of it. It feels good to have people wanting to be a part of something that is good. They feel like they can add themselves to it. Craig Robinson has two epic, epic episodes that will go down in infamy. I think that it is one of the funniest things that I have ever seen.
AE: Switching to fatherhood now, what are some of the morals you look to instill in your children as they grow up?
TC: The big thing is that I really wanted to get rid of the sense of entitlement that happened with my kids. It happens will all kids, especially in America. They think that things should come automatically. There is nothing wrong with expecting to be fed and to be taken care of. A lot of kids today feel like they don’t have to work to become better people. That is the issue. I am not talking about those kind of things. You have to work on your emotions. You have to work on who you have to be.
So with that example right there I purposely this year did not get my kids Christmas presents. We needed a shakeup in our family. Life had gotten so good that there was a lot of whining and complaining. There was a lot of expectations. I would say make a wish list. They would be like okay I want a second XBOX. I would be like wait a minute. (Both laugh.) I would say you guys got a lot.
So I said that we need to come out of ourselves. We need to understand that there is a lot of joy from giving. This isn’t something people say to put on calendars. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes with helping other people. I took the money that I would have spent on them and we donated it to an orphanage in L.A. to kids who don’t have parents. They weren’t getting toys from anyone else. I told my kids that the money that would have went to you and your presents are now going to kids who don’t have parents.
You know what was the best thing ever? It was the way my kids responded. They were like wow this is great. They got it. They understood it. We had the greatest Christmas ever. It was the best Christmas ever. We didn’t open a box. We didn’t have to pick up any paper. We didn’t put any toys together. We sat and just thought about how good our life is and that we could give to others. I told them to never forget that feeling. This is what it is all about. The kids were actually happier. You get all this stuff and then you are not satisfied. You might play with it for a little bit. Then you are like eh. The excitement is waiting for it. When the excitement is done they are like okay what is next? You then start to realize uh-oh that is entitlement.
AE: What advice do you have for new dads out there?
TC: My biggest advice that I would give to new dads or husbands or everyone is that you cannot love someone and control them at the same time. It sounds crazy. It sounds simple, but it is really not. As a father you tend to control your kids as opposed to loving them. It is more about your image and what your son or daughter does that affects you and your pride.
So you are tempted to control them and make them do what you want them to do so they behave. The key is that you need to love them. Even if they embarrass you. If your five year old spills that whole pot of soup at the restaurant and you are like ‘Oh my God.’ You can’t make them feel like the worst kid that ever lived. You have to love them. Let them know that we all make mistakes. We all are tempted to do dumb things. We all do it. Kids are just like us. We are all the same. I love you and now get away from the soup. (Both laugh.)
Life of Dad Quick Five
AE: What is your favorite family movie you guys like to watch together?
TC: It has got to be a comedy. It has got to be funny. It is usually in the PG range. I don’t watch the R rated stuff with my kids. As a family we will sit back and watch a really funny comedy. I was in “Blended” and we all sit down and watch that together. It is great.
AE: Do you guys have a favorite song that you all like to sing and dance to as a family?
TC: We have a ton. We like Christmas music. Soon as Christmas comes around we get the funky tunes going. There is always some Hip-hop version of “Jingle Bells.” We already know the words. So we all get down together and dance all the time.
AE: Describe the perfect family vacation.
TC: Hawaii is awesome. Although we just came back from Brazil. Brazil was really nice. That is running a close second. Hawaii had it beat with the climate there. Brazil can sometimes get to hot, but Hawaii, oh man. It is like bath water. It just like sitting in some nice bath water for a week.
AE: Do you have a favorite line from a movie or show that you have been in?
TC: Wow. I would say my favorite line was from “The Longest Yard.” ‘I got the shakes that will make you quake. I got the fries that will cross your eyes. I got the burgers….I just got burgers.’ (Laughs.) That is probably one of my favorite lines ever.
AE: Who would you love to work with next either in film or TV?
TC: Will Smith. I would really love to do something with Will and The Rock. I want to do something with The Rock. Will Smith, The Rock, and me. Hopefully all three of us. I think that would be awesome.
Follow Terry on Twitter @terrycrews