Terry Crews may hold the unofficial title of the Hardest Working Actor in show business, but unlike previous titleholders, money’s no motivation for the actor.
“I have never done anything for money,” he says. “It’s just not my motivation. I am literally satisfied when I get to be a part of something.”
The former NFL football player who traded in his helmet and cleats to pursue an acting career has been in over 40 films, and television projects from “Friday After Next” to “Street Kings” since he made his acting debut in the television series “Battle Dome in 1999.”
“I am not one of these seasoned guys who went to Julliard or acting school, so I have nothing to lose and will try everything. Failure is the only way I can learn,” Crews explains.
Known for his comedic roles in television shows like “Everybody Hates Chris,” a series of Old Spice commercials and movies, “Starsky and Hutch,” “Harsh Times” and “The Longest Yard,” Crews makes his return as the street-smart barrel weapons specialist Hale Caesar in the sequel to the 2010 summer blockbuster “The Expendables.”
An action-adventure directed by Simon West (“Con Air”), the sequel reunites the tight-knit band of old-school mercenaries from British tough-guy Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture to Sylvester Stallone, who join forces again when a CIA operative (Bruce Willis) enlists them to take on a simple job. When one of their men is murdered on the job, they are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them.
Whereas the first offering, directed by Sylvester Stallone, was drenched in testosterone and had no shortage of death and destruction, the sequel has more humor, heart and camaraderie.
“The tone is much different than the first,” Crews says. “The movie that Sly wanted to make in the beginning was an adventure, and because it was a small movie, we had a lot more blood and guts. It was a way to keep it going. Now he knew we didn’t have to go that far, he added a lot more comedy and camaraderie.”
With new members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) added to the crew, this second installment of “The Expendables” also sees American martial arts legend Chuck Norris as a retired military operative, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and more of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had a cameo in the prequel.
There is a savvy sense of humor and banter in this sequel as action heroes, Norris, Schwarzenegger, Willis and Van Demme quote familiar catchphrases. Naturally, Schwarzenegger’s “I’ll be back, “which he uttered in the 1984 movie “The Terminator,” garners the most laughs.
Filmed for 14 weeks, mostly in the Eastern European nation of Bulgaria, as well as in Hong Kong and New Orleans, it’s a combo of high-velocity adventure as the crew leap out of falling plans and automobiles. The action scenes, as expected, are quite spectacular and are as close as we are going to get to re-living the good old action films of the ’80s. For Crews, a fan of the action genre, he isn’t ruling out the option to return for a possible 3rd installment.
“If we were doing an ‘Expendables’ cartoon, I am in,” he laughs. “There is no way I would ever opt out of anything ‘Expendables’ related. You don’t get these kind of opportunities every day. This is a lightening in a bottle and you have to go all the way till it’s done.”
Along with that action film, Crews has a role on Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” which recently premiered on HBO, is the spokesman for the “Smell is Power” campaign for Old Spice and a contestant on “Stars Earn Stripes,” an action-packed competition show ” on the NBC Network. With a return engagement in the TBS sitcom “Are We There Yet?” and several other movies in pre-production, Crews is certainly thrilled with the wealth of opportunities that have come his way.
“I love that moniker of being the hardest working man in showbiz. That moniker is what I want,” admits the actor. “I will never forget when I first got here from Michigan. You feel like you are nobody after a while when you keep getting turned down for roles. I have never been complacent and anytime there is an opportunity to act, I take it, for I have noticed that people who don’t take those opportunities just don’t last.”