Terry Crews, <EM>Everybody Hates Chris</EM> Terry Crews, Everybody Hates Chris

Everybody hates ratings, except perhaps the folks on Everybody Hates Chris (Thursdays at 8 pm/ET). While the family-friendly UPN sitcom inspired by Chris Rock's Brooklyn childhood is not a juggernaut in the grand scheme of prime time, its September premiere was the highest-rated episode of any comedy in the network's history. It also earned a Golden Globe nod for best television series, musical or comedy, but lost to Desperate Housewives. (Bitches.) Tonight the show returns from hiatus with another hilarious and heartwarming episode, in which Chris takes a part-time job delivering newspapers alongside his father, Julius, played by Terry Crews. TVGuide.com chatted with the ex-NFL linebacker about playing Rock's dearly departed daddy.

TVGuide.com: I hope I don't make you angry when I ask this because you're rather large. But prior to this role, you mainly played thugs, right?
Terry Crews:
I'm a 250-pound black guy with muscles, so yeah, I've played thugs and misogynistic athletes and crazy gangsters. I usually play roles that go to the real extreme. Playing Julius, a character who's loved by so many people, is very different for me.

TVGuide.com: How much day-to-day involvement does Chris Rock have with the show?
He's here all the time. He's even here today!

TVGuide.com: Does he ever watch what you're doing and say, "No, no, no, my father wouldn't do that!"
Not at all. He really trusts us. He looked at so many people but he picked me and Tichina [Arnold] because we have the essence he wanted as parents. The rest he left up to us, as long as it's funny. 

TVGuide.com: Did Rock talk to you at all about his dad?
All I know about his father is that he died in 1989, which kind of makes me nervous because the show's set in 1982 I guess I've only got seven years to go! Everything else I need to know about Julius is in the scripts. Every time I get one, I learn something new about him. That's the way Chris let's me know about his dad. I'm discovering who Julius is right along with America.

TVGuide.com: In tonight's episode, you and Chris bond away from the block and you get to show your lighter side.
I love this episode. I cuss like a sailor and joke with my coworkers. You see where Chris' comedy came from. You also get the sense of what Chris is about and where he got his work ethic and blueness.

TVGuide.com: Was everybody on the set surprised when parents complained about the Christmas episode, which revealed that (YULETIDE SPOILER ALERT!) Santa Claus doesn't exist?
[Laughs] We had no idea it would go down like that. Chris' comedy is one of honesty, he always tells it like it is. The Santa episode got on a lot of people's nerves because kids love to watch the show. But what harm is there in giving parents the honor that they're due? A lot of parents work extremely hard to make Christmas for their kids. Chris' rationale was, "I'm not giving all those props and love to some guy in a fairy tale. These parents are working hard!"

TVGuide.com: I didn't mind finding out that Santa wasn't real I always suspected it. I was just peeved that Chris didn't get any presents!
On the set, we were like, "Oh, that's got to change. He's got to get something!" But it really was brilliant. On every other show's Christmas episode, every kid magically gets exactly what [he/she] wants it doesn't matter if they're broke or what. On this show, Chris didn't get what he wanted and life went on. Kids need to learn that.

TVGuide.com: Is that a lesson your real-life children learned this year?
Oh no, I have five kids and the show gave them a very merry Christmas.

TVGuide.com: Five kids?! You certainly have a lot of life experience to draw on when playing a dad.
I've been married for 17 years and I have all these beautiful kids. I'm pretty much living a fantasy life. First I was in the NFL for seven years and here I am in my eighth year of entertainment. How many people get the chance to [live out] two different dreams?