No thesp wants people to think they walk off the red carpet and into a kill room. But sometimes the line between the character you see on screen and the person who portrays them is a bit blurry.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Terry Crews knows that all too well. Like Crews, his Brooklyn Nine-Nine character Terry Jeffords is a big, muscular guy with a sensitive and thoughtful personality, who wants to read his daughters bedtime stories more than flex his muscles.
“It’s the characters that’s most like me,” Crews told news.com.au while promoting the show’s upcoming seventh season. “For one thing, I’ve never played a character this long. The first name is Terry. It’s me!
“I have four daughters and a few seasons ago, Terry had his third, and I thought, ‘Ohmigod, there might be more kids coming’. There are so many parallels between my life and Terry Jeffords.
“Let’s just say, everything in my life, the writers use. They’ve stolen from my life! The only thing is I know nothing about police work.”
Crews said before the start of every season, the actors sit down in the writers’ room for hours.
“They sit down with each character and every person and just talk about the direction in which it’s going. That’s what (series co-creator) Dan (Goor) has afforded every actor.
“You get to sit down with the writers, tell them what’s going on in your life, and they ask how I see the character, they ask me if there’s anything I would like to see. They’re open to suggestions and it makes everybody feel included. You know at least your voice was heard.
“And I’ve never been disappointed in any direction they’ve decided to take Terry Jeffords, because it’s always respectful, it’s always wonderful.”
When asked specifically if fans are going to see Terry Jeffords rock a flute anytime soon (Crews is an accomplished flautist), Crews was coy.
“That’s so funny! I’m not going to give away any spoilers but let’s just say that some things are going to be introduced.”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, returning on SBS and SBS On Demand this Friday, has had a dramatic few years. Cancelled after its fifth season by its American network, Fox, a huge fan movement saw the show rescued by another network, NBC, for a sixth season.
The fervour of the rescue operation, mounted by millions of fans globally, drew attention to just how beloved the show is. Now, the show isn’t just back for its seventh season, it’s already been renewed for an eighth.
Set in a Brooklyn police precinct, it follows a squad of detectives trying to solve crime and live their lives – but because it’s a comedy, there’s much shenanigans. Anecdotally, it seems like its popularity keeps growing every year, more and more people are shouting the catchcry “Nine-Nine!”.
The large fanbase gives Crews the opportunity to showcase a type of masculinity not often seen on screen, and it’s a subject he’s particularly passionate about given he wrote a whole book about it in 2014, Manhood.
“There’ are plenty of guys like Terry Jeffords – very big, strong guys but sensitive. But it’s not portrayed a lot on television. I’m honoured to be one of the guys on a show that reveals that we do exist and we’re here.
“I think it’s such a shock because people have a view of a guy like me because of my size and I used to play football. You tend to get one-noted and typecast as that guy. I love the fact we can present manhood in a new way.
“That’s one of the great things about Brooklyn Nine-Nine – a lot of people say, ‘we’ve never seen this on TV before but I know a guy like that’.”
In a move that validates that Crews really is that guy, at the end of the chat, he, unprompted and without a hint of inauthenticity, mentions the Australian bushfires.
“My heart goes out to the country right now with all those fires. My heart breaks. I hope and pray you’re all doing a lot better. I can’t wait to visit.”
A very Terry Jeffords and a very Terry Crews thing to say
Brooklyn Nine-Nine premieres at 8.30pm Friday, February 7 on SBS and SBS On Demand
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