Terry Crews had two huge reasons to leap at the chance to tackle the role of Earl in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. First, he admitted that he already is naturally a colorful character and second, Crews feels he would not be where he is today without the man who played Earl in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Mr. T.
We caught up with Crews for an exclusive interview where he details his obsession with animated films, why Mr. T made him the superstar he is today, how Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 has made him a hero at home and what it is about the world of invading food that excites the masses.
Movie Fanatic: Is there a big difference for you playing a character for an animated movie versus live action?
Terry Crews: I am an animated character anyway.
Movie Fanatic: Yes, you are!
Terry Crews: So, I gave it all. I don’t think there’s a big difference. Every actor is basically animating a character. You have to put life into it whether it's claymation or live action. I took it the same way. This is where my challenge was: Mr. T. had already done it. That was big, big shoes to fill. Mr. T is the man. First of all, where were you when you first met Mr. T?
Movie Fanatic: I was at home watching The A-Team. No! It was Rocky 3.
Terry Crews: Rocky 3! When you see him with that mohawk, he was a force of nature. I still get goosebumps watching him. He changed everything. Now, I’m like, “Oh, man.” Then I thought about it like this, “How many Batmans are there out there?” I took it on like that. I was just going to take the Earl character and do what I do. Don’t try to be Mr. T. Be me! Be Earl! There is a way to improve it. I’m so happy with it. Mr. T gave me his stamp of approval. Without him, there would be no me. I started working out because of Mr. T.
Movie Fanatic: Are you an animation fan?
Terry Crews: You know, in the last seven years I’ve gotten most of my entertainment from animated movies. I have five kids and I’ll never forget taking them to see The Incredibles. Iron Giant is one of the best movies I have ever seen in my entire life. I was on my agent to get me into animation. I play Blade in the Marvel series now! Animation was something I wanted to master. It’s not going away. I took the whole family to the premiere of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. To be in this movie is so special.
Movie Fanatic: You being in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 must be huge in your house!
Terry Crews: I have four daughters and one son, and when he would see Earl and Cal, he’s like, “I’m like Cal and you’re Earl!” Flash forward to me getting the call that I’m going to get to play Earl. I never saw that coming. Dude! I am really Earl! My son looked at me and said, “Are you serious, Dad?!” To be in this movie means a lot to me and my family. When you look at an African American character, animated, it’s very rare. Earl is so special, and he loves his son. It meant so much to so many people, like Princess and the Frog. An animated black character... wow! We’ve never seen it. It makes it special.
Movie Fanatic: The food gets scary looking in this movie. For you, what is the scariest food to meet your demise at the hands of?
Terry Crews: The Tacodile, when I saw the thing -- they did right by putting that in the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 trailer. It made so much sense. It’s crazy. Everything else is really cute. The Tacodile… I don’t want to mess with that.
Movie Fanatic: What do you think it is about the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies that people can’t get enough of?
Terry Crews: It’s the direction. When you look at the first one, with Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and now Cody (Cameron) and Kris (Pearn), they know the tone. You got to be funny and pace it up. There are some bad animated movies. When you get a movie like this and it keeps upping the stakes, it gets you. And you got Bill (Hader) and Anna (Faris), you can’t lose.