Whether he is handing out hard hits on the football field or delivering one-liners during interviews, Terrell Suggs is used to making plenty of noise at his day job (just ask NFL quarterbacks like Tom Brady). But the outspoken Ravens linebacker, a Pro Bowler in 2010, is quietly making a name for himself in the film industry.
His production company, Team Sizzle Worldwide, just wrapped principal photography for his latest film project, “The Coalition,” and the trailer was released to the Internet last week. Suggs co-wrote the film -- which stars "227" actress Jackee Harry and Denyce Lawton from Tyler Perry's "House of Payne” -- along with director Monica Mingo. The eight-year Ravens veteran also served as the film's executive producer.
“For my first feature film, I just wanted to write something that people can relate to, something that was real,” Suggs said Friday in a phone interview. “I really wanted it to hit home with people. … Basically, what it’s about is the many different complications of male-and-female relationships. Everybody has been broken up with. Everybody has broken up with somebody. It’s just the different politics between men and women.”
“The Coalition” is the second screenplay Suggs has penned. His first, “When Beautiful People Do Ugly Things,” made it into the Cannes Film Festival this summer, and Suggs traveled to France for the festival.
“I have such a passion and a love for it. … My inspiration comes from everything, everywhere. Just the people around you, the things you see and most definitely your experiences,” he said. “Once I get an idea, it pretty much writes itself. So that’s how most of our projects come to life.”
Those ideas have been popping into his head since he was a little kid. He would watch movies on Friday nights with his father and two brothers, and as he got older, he watched them with more of a critical eye.
“I started voicing my opinions on certain movies and I’d say I didn’t like movies,” he said. “And my dad would always say, ‘You can’t complain about something if you aren’t prepared to fix it.’”
But Suggs didn’t take the step from being a movie buff who screened his favorite movies on a laptop at his locker to being an aspiring movie producer who filmed movies in his spare time until the Ravens lost in the 2009 AFC championship game. Suggs was stunned. “I thought that was our year,” he said. Not really knowing what to do next, Suggs heeded the advice of his assistant and created Team Sizzle Worldwide.
During the busy NFL season, Suggs said he is still pretty hands-on with his production company. “Every decision is made by me,” he said. “I like to see the projects be created and done right.” But when he’s on the field tackling and trash-talking quarterbacks, his assistant does the off-the-field dirty work for him.
His first two feature films have attracted reasonable buzz -- getting his first into Cannes is a pretty big deal -- and he is working with some respected names in the film industry. After “The Coalition” trailer was released, his name even popped up on TMZ. And he recently made a funny cameo on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” but for now, Sizzle is in no rush to get into acting like his Ravens teammate Ray Lewis.
“I like to work behind the camera,” he said. “So for now I’m trying to stay behind there.”
Ravens fans know Suggs won’t stay out of the spotlight for long.