Spend a little time talking with Isaiah Mustafa and Terry Crews and try to avoid the sense of optimistic bromance. Can’t be done.
In the past five years, they’ve bonded as Old Spice Guys.
“He’s a giant man without being imposing, and then he’s such a genuine guy,” Mustafa gushes about the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” fixture. “He’s super nice.”
And Crews has nothing but warm fuzzies for the “Shadowhunters” actor who broke out in 2010 as the memorable Man Your Man Could Smell Like: “The first day I was filming [for Old Spice], he [Mustafa] came by and we got a chance to meet. It was love at first sight.”
Now, the two are coming together in a new campaign Crews calls “the ‘Expendables’ of advertising.”
“Like when Arnold, Bruce and Sly got together,” he says. “People were begging for it.”
(And here we thought we were the only ones watching these things for fun. For the past five years. Laughing like fresh-scented maniacs. At presumably fresh-scented maniacs.)
Mustafa agrees: “Everyone always wanted to see another commercial but with Terry and myself. It was just a matter of timing. ... They had this idea of me and Terry pitted against each other."
And that they are, with Mustafa starting out towel-clad in that familiar disappearing shower set, all Swagger- and Timber-scented for the ladies, and Crews screaming for the guys who’d prefer to command attention with Bearglove. But the latter actor initially wasn’t sure he’d be able to stand up against the former in the Old Spice arena.
“When I saw Isaiah’s spot, I have to say, it was the best ad I’d ever seen in my life. ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ blew me away. I had to watch it over and over to catch every little thing,” he says. “I was like, ‘How can I compete with that?’ But we didn’t even try. We went in a completely different direction. His is for the ladies.... Me, I’m for the guys who need to be yelled at. I’m the kind of guy, people have to listen to me.”
The 47-year-old can barely believe that his first spot for the brand was filmed five years ago, the day his granddaughter was born. The campaign is “as big as any movie I’ve done, any TV show I’ve done,” he says. “This is entertainment for a new generation.”
In the seven new “Smellmitment” spots, Crews says, “Isaiah is being Isaiah. He is a smooth, cool cat. I am being myself. I am that guy. I am my own spirit animal! I have to work to calm down.” The guys overlapped on three of the five production days, but Mustafa says they didn’t have to ad lib much because the writers had it all on the page.
In addition to once again donning the “Hello, ladies” towel, the 41-year-old has landed his first TV series, “Shadowhunters” for ABC Family, where he plays a detective who’s a werewolf in a story based on “The Mortal Instruments” YA book series. He’s shooting the show in Toronto, and with two of 13 episodes in the can already, it’ll start airing early next year.
But Canada hasn’t won his heart. “I’m a Cali guy,” he says. “I’m not relocating any time soon.” Still, Toronto is pretty fun, with people packing the streets most nights of the week — and that crowd includes him and his cast members once a week for dinner out. Yeah, he’s a fan of those guys as well. “We get along and work hard.”
Crews has a similar good attitude about work. “I’m 240 pounds of positivity. I want people to feel better,” he declares.
“I am very spiritual. I know I didn’t get here by myself. I’m about recognizing the power that’s in every person,” he explains.
“When you believe things are bad and people are bad, you can’t go forward. To be a true optimist is sort of a religious experience. You’re reframing things: If I’m late, maybe it’s for a reason. Maybe I missed something really bad.” The technique, he says, makes him feel better about everything.
Crews’ positivity is sweeping.
“I am an incurable optimist,” he says. “I just see the world in a good light. There are no evil people, there’s only evil thinking. Once you separate the two things, you can learn to love anyone.”
Even, it seems, another Old Spice Guy.