Terry Crews has a physical appearance of brute strength, but according to the actor beneath the mass is a man complicated by insecurities.
His experience of growing up in a home where he witnessed abuse and with the thinking that strength and an overall stoic demeanor equated to masculinity has had a lasting impact on the actor. Crews, 53, unveils some of those invisible scars in his memoir, “Tough: My Journey to True Power.”
The vulnerable examination of his life along with self-revelations he has discovered through therapy are laid out in anecdotes, including an incident with his mother as Crews was entering into manhood.
“She made me pull down my pants to see if I’d hit puberty,” said Crews of what he calls one of the most vulnerable tales in his memoir: his mother checking to see if he had pubic hair. “It was wild because I never envisioned actually being that transparent. It was so difficult because I love my mom and, to be honest, I didn’t want her to go down as having done something so heinous. But at the same time, it was abusive. This is the stuff that came out in therapy, the stuff that I really had to address.”
As an adult, Crews suffered an equally humiliating and similar incident when he was allegedly groped by a Hollywood executive. Crews publicly spoke about the incident for the first time at the height of the #MeToo movement, stating that he too was a victim.
But elsewhere in the book, the “White Chicks” actor delves into the warped ideals of how a man should act, or not act for that matter, that were imparted to him by his father and later reinforced by peers. All of which Crews said left him straddling a fence of right versus wrong when challenged to follow the crowd of “toxic masculinity.”
In the past, Crews has spoken out about the ways in which witnessing his father’s violence and abuse shaped him, making it easy to perpetuate toxic male traits and driving him to the brink of his own rage.
“Growing up was not a good experience. My father was very abusive. He used to beat my mother,” Crews said during his appearance on National Geographic’s “Running Wild with Bear Grylls.” But instead of solely living in fear, Crews turned his body into a near impenetrable weapon.
“It was one of those things where I knew I had to get stronger because one day I thought I’d have to fight him. That’s how it started out,” he said of his fitness journey. “I always, always had been like, ‘Be fit, be ready, be prepared, be there.’ ”
In 2006, that “be ready, be prepared” mindset was triggered when the former NFL linebacker had a chaotic run-in with a persistent fan. “I ended up stomping this guy on the pavement,” he explained. Since then, the 6’2” and roughly 240-pound man has turned his chiseled physique into an enviable comedic tool — and he’s proud of it.