*Born Craig Phillip Robinson, the 41 year old multi-talented artist, like many other Chicago actors, got his showbiz start in The Second City improvisational theater group.
It was there that the former music teacher honed his standup act, developed his improvisational skills, and launched his career in entertainment. Ever since, he’s been on an upward path with more and better television and movie opportunities.
Perhaps best know for his role as “Darryl Philbin” in the recently ended hit NBC TV show “The Office,” Robinson has kept himself very busy of late. He currently stars in the Tyler Perry production “Peeples” alongside Kerry Washington which is out now in theaters. He is the executive-producer of, and plays the lead role in the upcoming comedy “Rapture-palooza” opposite Anna Kendrick, and now stars in the highly anticipated Sony Pictures comedy “This is the End” opening in theaters June 12th.
The actor gave us the skinny on his role and experiences making “This is the End.”
The film follows the absurdly hilarious exploits of six friends as they face the apocalypse sheltered in a boarded-up Hollywood home. The twist is that every actor in the film is playing themselves, or “a heightened version of themselves.” What might first appear to be a fanciful, Hollywood conceit, ends up being a stroke of performance genius for the actors: “there was almost a feeling that you can’t make a mistake because, hey, that’s what I’d do [in that situation]. But at the same time, it’s a heightened version of yourself, because in the film, I let a guy die. I wouldn’t do that normally…and I’ve had many an opportunity, sir!” Robinson was kidding, of course.
Robinson got involved with the project very early on when director/writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg approached him. He accepted their invitation immediately, offering, “whenever you’re running with those dudes, you now it’s going to be a solid project. Their level of comedy is the type of [work] that I want to do.” Robinson has worked with Rogen on several other feature films: ”Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” ”Knocked Up,” ”Pineapple Express.” “We get each other like that”, the actor/comedian said of their working relationship and their approach to comedy. He added that the same comic sensibility is shared among all of the actors in the film: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, and Danny McBride. The same sensibility extends to the very long list of cameo appearances by Hollywood A-listers like Channing Tatum, Emma Watson, Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, Rihanna and more. “Everybody came to play and make fun of themselves, so it was a blast!”, the actor said of their time shooting in New Orleans.
The actor/comedian/singer scooped us on an original song called “Take Yo Panties Off’ from his standup act that made it onto the film’s soundtrack. The acoustic version appears in the film – including Rihanna belting out a line – but the version on the soundtrack is a remix collaboration with Snoop Lion (the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg)! ”Snoop is a leader. He’s a wise Sage. He’s a master. So I had to come in [to the studio] and bring mine, you know, get it together.” And bring it he did. The tightly produced cut straddles that fine line between serious slow-jam and self-parody, depending on the listener’s mood.
The future for Craig Robinson? With “The Office” ending, the actor says that the future is wide open. “We shot a television pilot and are waiting to see what happens with that. I definitely want to get back into TV…AND do some more movies! I would love to keep this balancing act going.” When asked if he prefers one over the other, Robinson hedges, “With movies you get to mine the scenes all day long to figure out what the character does and says. With television, it goes much faster because you’re doing an episode every week, but you get to see your character grow over time. It’s difficult to pick because it’s like choosing between your children.” In either case, he always brings the funny.
“My other goal is to also get “The Nasty Delicious” into the studio to crank out some fun stuff.” Oh yeah: Mr. Craig Robinson has an accomplished comedy band as well…
Follow Craig Robinson on Twitter @mrcraigrobinson
‘This is the End’ opens in theaters on Wednesday June 12th.
‘This is the End’ movie soundtrack available on iTunes after June 11th, 2013
(‘This is the End’ movie soundtrack available on Sony Music Unlimited)