TV Guide: Has success changed things for you?
Terry Crews: I literally don't go anywhere without someone knowing who I am, loving the show. I have to think about whether I can go to the mall.
TV Guide: Did you anticipate it being a hit?
Tichina Arnold: The show just felt right, even before it aired. When we did the pilot, going up the steps to the door, it just felt real. It just felt good.
TV Guide: Are you a hot property now?
Arnold: I don't want to be in magazines having to take my clothes halfway off, trying to promote myself. But Terry's dying to take his clothes off.
Crews: I am. [Laughs] No, I'm not.
TV Guide: But you played in the NFL, Terry. Don't you have killer abs and pecs?
Crews: Julius cannot have muscle. He has to look like a regular guy. Before this, I was just a big goomba actor. "OK, you're going to be a security guard, you're going to be a villain." Here, it's not about my muscles I get to act. It's like a girl with big breasts when finally no one is looking at them, she can act.
TV Guide: Do you two behave like a married couple on the set?
Arnold: I come from a world of bragging, cracking jokes all the time. Terry, he can dish it out but he can't take it so well. I really get off on making him frazzled.
TV Guide: Was there extra pressure knowing that you'd be playing versions of Chris Rock's real-life parents?
Crews: At first I was putting pressure on myself. But Chris remember that first day, Tichina? was like, "You're parents. That's my only note. Do what you'd do."
TV Guide: Julius is defined by self-sacrifice and being there for his family, correct?
Crews: If a father's not sacrificing, he ain't a dad. I grew up in Flint, Michigan, a very depressed area. My father worked three jobs, just like Julius, putting off every little bitty thing for the good of his family.
TV Guide: And Rochelle runs the house through tough love?
Arnold: She is my mother, my grandmother and my aunt all rolled into one. When I read those scripts, it's always something from my childhood. Then, everybody raised each other's kids. You didn't go past Miss Norma's house or a certain street. That's your radius. And in the '80s, you got your behind spanked there were no "timeouts." Nowadays, the cops can beat your children, but you can't. What I love about this show is that Italian women, Irish women walk up to me and say, "My mom said the same thing."
TV Guide: Was your neighborhood in Jamaica, Queens, a rough one?
Arnold: When I started dating, you were supposed to date the best drug dealer the one making the most money and have his baby. That was financial security. And I could have been sucked into that so easily. Eight out of 10 of my friends had babies and lived there the rest of their lives. Education, and my parents, saved me.
Crews: Bedford-Stuyvesant [where Everybody Hates Chris is set] is a very vicious place. Every time that kid walks out that door, someone is trying to pull him in some kind of wrong direction. Julius and Rochelle have to be strict.
TV Guide: How has Tyler James Williams handled being in almost every scene?
Crews: He's handled it with decorum and style. He calls me Mr. Terry.
Arnold: I don't let them call me Miss. It dates me, and I want them to feel comfortable. But I always tell the kids on the set: "I'm a grown-ass woman." Terry goofs around with the kids.
Crews: I'll say something about Tyler's ears.
Arnold: His ears are fine.
Crews: The kids have developed comeback abilities, so I'm fair game. Tyler will say to me, "Look at your wrinkly head." And I'll go, "What did you say?"