Film Synopsis: On the day of the NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) has the opportunity to save football in Cleveland when he trades for the number one pick. He must quickly decide what he’s willing to sacrifice in pursuit of perfection as the lines between his personal and professional life become blurred on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with dreams of playing in the NFL.
The Source Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Terry exclusively and chat about his new film.
Can you talk about how you initially got involved with “Draft Day” and why you decided to say yes to the project?
My agent told me that Ivan Reitman was doing this movie all about the NFL and I have a good relationship with the NFL, a lot of people there call on me for a couple of things. The NFL could use a couple of good stories. We’re always hearing stories like, so and so just went to jail and so and so just got in trouble for this or that and then there’s me, so it’s like well Terry Crews is in Hollywood acting and I love that relationship. I mean you have to share the good and the bad. So my agent hooked me up with a meeting with Ivan Reitman and I’ve been a fan of his since “Ghostbusters,” so when I had a chance to meet with him we just started talking about my NFL career and I told him the real, because you know it is real. You get this super glamorized view of Hollywood, of the NFL, of your job, whatever it is that you do, but you know the real. No matter what you’re doing there’s a real component. I broke it down and he told me “you know what, I really want you to be in this thing” and I told him, “well you just call me,” and boom, the next thing you know Arian [Foster] and I were shooting the first scene of the movie walking down a New York City street.
Talk to us about working with Arian Foster. I know that he’s a current NFL Star and that this was his first film, so how was that experience working with him?
I found out how committed he was as an actor when he shaved off his goatee. Because you have to understand he knew that he wasn’t going to look good any more, especially for the ladies. He instantly looked 16 years old and in my head I was like, “Why I gotta play the dad,” you know I got a little ego thing going on and then I said, “Come on dude you’re 45 stop it.” So I said, “yeah this makes sense.” And what’s crazy is when he shaved it off, he actually looks like he could be my son, now my son is actually 9 years old, but they look alike. I even showed the pictures to my wife like this is crazy. Arian did the work and he actually became that guy. With my experience with formerly being in the NFL and actually being a father, it didn’t take us long to get warmed up. Every father wants his son to go farther than he did. In our story line in the movie, I was a former star on the Cleveland Browns and now I want my son to get drafted and go even farther than I did with my team. Every good parent wants to see their kids go farther and so that desire was already there and Arian was such a pro; I was floored. You know in my career I’ve worked with a lot of athletes that try out acting and you have to go through the whole, “oh no I’m not doing that or having to ask, do you feel like doing this today?” Arian approached it like, “Man talk to me, how can I make this better, and that let me know.” This kid is on his way. The NFL has some amazing talent, like look at Michael Strahan for example and all that he’s doing.
Very true, and for anyone who didn’t know, you were drafted for the NFL back in 1991. Can you talk about your experience and feelings that were brought back up, things you actually had to relive and any major similarities that happened while shooting this film?
Well the first five years you play football are off anger alone. It’s like the first five years in jail, you have to survive, and you have something to prove. That whole survival aspect, needing and wanted to get drafted and all of the emotions that come along with this one day that you’ve worked towards your entire life. There was also that feeling of not being good enough or wanting to prove someone or everyone wrong. It’s almost like you can’t have two good parents going into the NFL, you have to have somebody who counted you out or said no. I mean take a look at Arian, We all know that Arian is a pro superstar, all pro running back because he’s proved it. And Arian did not get drafted. He kept going and he earned it. He proved it.
We all know how much music inspires artist and athletes, which hip hop artist are you listening to at the moment? Who inspires you to keep going and give it your all?
Oh Kendrick Lamar, yeah that’s my man!
There are a lot of family values and threads tied to family and father son relationships that play out in the film. Whether you love sports or not it’s a great film for that reason. In your opinion why should people go out and see it?
The NFL in America is absolutely enormous. It’s gigantic and people are all in. Now when I went to Europe I couldn’t find the NFL, over there it’s all about soccer or what they call football. And when I went to South Africa, it was all about Rugby. So you realize as Americans we identify with it. Because it’s our culture, football is our culture and so when you talk about that, you talk about ethnicity and culture and family and who we are as Americans. Black, White whatever it’s all us. This film has something for everybody.
In the film, your son gets into a bit of trouble, but he’s not demonized and I think that was a great choice for the writers to make. Can you speak about the reality of what happens in the NFL when this happens, and why you feel this is increasingly happening to young superstars in the NFL?
When you’re talking about the NFL it’s weird because a lot of people tend to demonize the players. When I look at what’s happened with Richard Sherman. That whole thing was crazy, I mean we have a Stanford graduate, honor roll student, but he’s being seen as a bad guy, and for what? You have to realize that he is a Gladiator. When you interview him, you have to approach it as if you just walked into a Gladiator pit. And with that particular event, America has responded not off of what he said, but how she responded to what he said. Which is “oh, he’s a gangster” and they’re trying to do the same thing to Desean Jackson right now. This man has never been arrested or committed a crime, but they’re painting him as a gang member. Why because he has a swag walk?
We recently saw you in “The Single Moms Club” and I love that we got to see you in a more serious role in “Draft Day,” so would you consider more films in this vein? And tell us what you’re working on next?
There is a tremendous job waiting for me some place. First of all, all comedic actors can do both. Think about it – you have Will Smith and Jamie Foxx, you’re talking people who are extremely funny, but that comes from pain, all comedy starts in pain. It’s hard to be a dramatic actor and then go into comedy because it’s really, really hard to make a room full of people laugh, but I know there’s a drama somewhere in there for me. I’m also just enjoying where I’m at right now. I know what I bring. I have an Adam Sandler film called “Blended” coming out, we spent three months in South Africa on the project and I had the time of my life! I also have “The Expendable’s 3” coming out. I tend to be action or comedic but what I want people to pick up on is that I enjoy every iota! You will never see me mail something in, I treat everything that I’m doing and everything I’m in with 100 percent of my effort and joy! And that’s it. Just be faithful to your project and you’re good. Whether that be comedic or dramatic or action or whatever. I mean “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” we just got picked up for our second season, we got a Golden Globe, I’m so looking forward to a long run with that because TV is so amazing. People get to see you all the time, they know you more and plus we have the best writers and team and now with the critical acclaim, I cant wait to see what we do next!
-Chasity Saunders (@itsmechasity)