LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Craig Robinson won over audiences as the warehouse manager Darryl on NBC’s long-running sitcom “The Office” but now the actor is taking on the apocalypse as he moves into films.
Chicago native Robinson, 41, will star in two comedies centered around the biblical end of the world, playing a megalomaniac Satan in indie comedy “Rapture-Palooza” that is out in theaters on Friday.
In “This is The End,” out next week, Robinson will play himself in a cast of celebrities forced to deal with the apocalypse after attending a party at James Franco’s house.
Robinson talked to Reuters about leaving “The Office,” developing his own television show and re-enacting Spider-Man with Franco, Seth Rogen and Danny McBride.
Q: You have two movies coming out, and both are about the biblical rapture. Have you fully mastered the apocalypse?
A: I will rule the apocalypse, yes. I know exactly what needs to be done, what you need to keep and what you need to let go of. People are the same. If you’re nice in life, you’re probably going to be nice in the apocalypse. It’s all about survival.
Q: What was your favorite part of playing a megalomaniac politician who also happens to be Satan in “Rapture-Palooza?”
A: I was cracking up at his insecurity and wanting to be loved, he was a complex dude and it was so much fun to play ... The way he would go back and forth in his own monologue, that’s what really made me want to be a part of the project.
Q: In “This Is The End” you play yourself but how do you play yourself as a character?
A: It’s obviously heightened versions of ourselves but because you’re playing yourself, you can really make no mistakes. It was really about being as close to you as you can but also having these crazy things that you would never say or do as we played the characters.
Q: What was the biggest difference between Craig in the movie and Craig in real life?
A: In the movie I think I admit to murder and I probably wouldn’t do that in real life. That’s the most heightened difference really ... I was so callous about it too (in the film).
Q: What was your most outrageous scene in “This Is The End?”
A: One of the moments that did not make it into the film but will probably be on the DVD is when we were doing the drug trip scene and we were playing “Spider-Man.” Franco was the Green Goblin and Seth (Rogen) was pushing him around on a skateboard, and Danny (McBride) was Spider-Man and I was Mary Jane (Spider-Man’s love interest). That was pretty outrageous and scarring.
Q: What did “The Office” mean to you and what will you miss most about playing Darryl Philbin?
A: It opened every door and beyond because it’s like you’re everybody’s friend, people really think they know you ... That’s nine years of being in someone’s living room and it means the world. It’s given me a career and friends with strangers. People come to my shows because they want to see a piece of Darryl.
I‘m going to miss seeing where’s he’s going. He was always a stoic dude, kind of callous but pretty smart and then he was getting these interviews and having breakdowns, so he had these layers. I do miss his one-liners and being the smartest dude in the room.
Q: You’re currently developing your own television show, what is that going to explore?
A: I shot a pilot for NBC (a unit of Comcast Corp) and right now it’s kind of in limbo. It didn’t get picked up for the fall season so we do not know. We’re still waiting to hear. It incorporates me as a music teacher ... I used to be a music teacher in Chicago and I also did have a band called The Nasty Delicious so it was really about me getting together with writers and producers and going through my old life and my life now.
Q: You’ve been working in comedy for a few years now, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned about the craft?
A: Keep grinding your axe because you can get rusty. Every joke has a life and it’ll dictate its life to you so your responsibility is to bring that joke to life each and every time.
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy