We all have different paths that lead to different things. For some, it leads to a nice job and a family. For others, like Craig Robinson, it leads to being a movie star.
Craig was originally a teacher from Chicago, before starring in such films and TV shows such as: The Office, Pineapple Express, Knocked Up, Eastbound and Down, and his newest movie, This Is The End.
Alongside Robinson, This Is The End features a star-studded cast of funny men, including Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Danny McBride. With the film hitting theaters Wednesday (June 12), we caught up with Craig to talk about how he went from being a teacher to an actor, how much he ad-libs during roles, and what a development deal is.
Saw the movie last night and I thought it was hilarious. Your other movie, Pineapple Express, is one of my favorites and I think this tops that one.
Craig: Thanks man. Yea, this is a good one.
How many times have you seen the final cut of this movie and what did you think?
I saw the movie twice I think, and I loved it. I am excited to be apart of something like this. I have to see the movie again, because people were laughing so much in the theater I missed some of the jokes.
I definitely went through that in the theater. I would be laughing hard at one joke that I don’t have time to catch up to the next joke. Did they have you in mind for your role specifically?
Yea, they hit me up, told me the idea, and I was in.
This movie had pretty much every new comedian you could think of. Some only played a cameo, but that made the movie that much better.
It’s kind of like if you write it, they will come. The parts of Kevin Hart, Aziz Anzari — those parts weren’t even written at first. These were people who were invited to come and speak their mind and bam…
For any project you do, how much do you ad-lib? It seems like a lot.
We get the script, and then from there, we always have opportunities to add something into the mix. I am not sure how much made it or didn’t, but they allow us to say whatever.
Even when you do something like Eastbound And Down, when you are in a scene with Will Ferrell and Danny McBride, are you guys just playing off each other?
Exactly. When you are around Will Ferrell, you are just trying to hold in your laughter.
I read in your bio that you were a teacher before all of this. Did you always want to do comedy in the back of your mind?
No, it wasn’t until I was in college that I got the comedy bug. Comedy kind of just chose me.
What kind of teacher were you? Were you the cool and funny teacher, or the asshole teacher?
It depends on whom you ask, some kids will say one thing and some will say the other.
Have you run into any of your students since you became famous?
Some of them hit me up on Facebook or Twitter, and sometimes when I go back home to Chicago, sure.
You are kind of what I like to call part of the Judd Apatow crew. Guys like you, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill etc. How did you link up with these guys?
I auditioned for 40-Year-Old Virgin and didn’t get it. Then I auditioned for Knocked Up, and I got that part.
Your career is crazy. You have been in like the last 10 funniest movies I can think of.
Thanks man. Once in a while, I have to look around and say, “Wow, this is really happening.”
What is your favorite role that you have done?
I just did this joint called Peeples, I would say that or this movie we are talking about now, This Is The End. I would have to add Hot Tub Time Machine to that, as well. You are making me see things in a different light. Thanks bro.
This movie, This Is The End, is so hilarious. It really is like five different genres in one. There was comedy, action, thriller, sci-fi.
Apocalyptic and super natural stuff too. Those guys are really good at bending different genres like, Pineapple Express. They basically say, “What would happen if we mix this with this?” I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Did they pitch your character in Pineapple Express, or did you make him up?
We were rehearsing and one of the guys who made the movie, David Gordon Green, kind of created him. Before you knew it, we had this super sweet, uhh, bad guy.
To make those kinds of movies, you have to really know other movies. Are you a huge movie buff?
I love movies, yes, but I am not a buff. I have friends who quote movies all day, but I am not one of those guys. It’s funny, he might quote some dumb ass old movie and be like, “You never saw that?” I will say, “No, I haven’t seen that movie from 1960… sorry.”
This Is The End definitely had plenty of quotes and bits. I think my favorite part was when you yelled your name at the end?
When I yelled, “I’m Craig motherf***in’ Robinson, take yo panties off!?” “Take Yo Panties Off” is actually a song I do in my act. For this movie, Seth wanted us to play heightened characters of ourselves. They wanted our characters to be true to ourselves, but still fictional. They asked me to include that song and concept into my character.
It comes out this Wednesday (June 12), but what else do you have coming out?
I am currently filming Hot Tub Time Machine 2 in New Orleans. I also have a band, and I am hoping we can get into the studio sometime soon. I have some other things up my sleeves, but I am not ready to release them yet.
What was the process like, when you go from teacher in Chicago to Hollywood star?
I was doing comedy on the side while I was teaching. I went to the Montreal Comedy Festival and killed it. I got some interest from people, based on that and did some more stand up in Los Angeles. Then, I had some meetings in LA and ended up getting a development deal.
What exactly is a development deal, for those that don’t know?
Basically a studio has an interest in you, or your brand. They want to feature you into you in a movie or a TV series or whatever.