Terry Crews Talks Meatballs and Superheroes

Terry Crews has been a busy man since his breakout role as Damon in Ice Cube’s Friday After Next. Most recently, he’s made a mark as an action star in Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables franchise, and currently plays NYPD Sergeant Terry Jeffords on the Fox sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Crews has also made good use of his distinctive voice, appearing in several animated projects and video games.

With Halloween right around the corner, Crews recently guest-starred as vampire hunter Blade in a special one-hour episode of Ultimate Spider-Man on the Disney Channel. Ebony.com caught up with Crews to discuss his role in the animated series, the power of the voice, and why the world needs more Black superheroes.

EBONY: Most might know you best for live-action roles like Julius on Everybody Hates Chris and, of course, Damon in Friday After Next. What prompted this leap into an animated project?

Terry Crews: I love voiceover work. Basically, for a year or so, I’ve gotten most of my satisfaction from animated projects: roles on American Dad and in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Some of the greatest stuff being made right now is in animation. So I went to my agent and said I want to do more. I flipped when I got the call that Blade was being put into an episode of Ultimate Spider-Man and they wanted me to play him. I told my son and he just flipped too, so I knew I was making the right move.

EBONY: What’s the major difference between voice acting and when you’re performing with the cameras there on you?

TC: The big thing I learned, as a voice actor, is that you have to put as much as you can into your voice. It’s what caries the work. And you have to be careful to match the voice of your character with the tone of the project. With Blade, I had to avoid watching the movies, because their tone is much more adult, and you don’t want it to be too deep and dark. Ultimately though, it’s about putting as much of your sprit into it as possible. People can really gather a lot from just your voice, especially kids. Your spirit really carries over into the animation.

EBONY: It looks as though the animators actually made the Blade character look a bit like you. What did you think of seeing yourself all drawn up?

TC: I didn’t know they would do that, but I was happy they did. It was fun to see myself as Blade and, if they ever brought the character back in live action, it’s something I’d be interested in doing. I was made for this. I don’t need a super suit or a chest plate with the muscles drawn in. I’m just waiting for the right opportunity to do it.

EBONY: There are so few Black superheroes, and over the years only a couple have made it to the screen.

TC: There’s Luke Cage. Fans have been asking for him to be added to The Avengers, but Marvel hasn’t expressed interest in doing it. I also wouldn’t want to get in an Internet battle with The Rock or Idris Elba, who fans have already thrown into the conversation. Also, you have to wonder if that character would get adequate time to shine. I’m already in The Expendables in the front. If I do something in the superhero genre, I want to be up there alongside the Spider-Mans. That’s what’s Marvel did with this Blade character, and I think kids will really like it.

And yes, there are only a few big Black superheroes, but we have to remember that most of the iconic characters were created in a very different time. It’s a new day and we have to create more. What’s stopping us from creating new Black superheroes? I love the fact, for example, that Samuel L. Jackson is playing Nick Fury, who was originally a White character. But I also think we can make brand new heroes. There’s nothing stopping us.

Donovan X. Ramsey is a multimedia journalist who writes about all things social, political, cultural, financial and whimsical. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @iDXR, or DonovanXRamsey.com.