As much as moviegoers and TV fans have come to look forward to seeing Craig Robinson, we've gotten used to him being the straight man. From the beleaguered bouncer in Knocked Up to Darryl on The Office, Robinson is usually the only guy with any sense, dropped into a world gone mad.
But in Miss March, Robinson gets a chance to cut loose as a rapper with the improbable name Horsedick.mpg, a guy so over the top that the lyrics to his raps are both incredibly filthy and nonsensical. A few weeks ago he talked to us about how the role came to him, what his plans are beyond his excellent cameo roles, and how hard it is to look Steve Carell in the eye.
How did this role come to you? Did you have to audition?
I auditioned for it. It was the first audition I had after the movie Knocked Up came out. I felt like I should really do something strong to follow up. And that's what happened.
How do you go about playing a character named Horsedick.mpg and not laugh the whole time?
Well, we did laugh. You know, you get past it, try to get past it, and just keep on doing the job. I think that Trevor came up with that name and it was one of his files on his computer. He just kept it for the movie.
Did you improv lines?
These guys don't improv that much. I did improv a little bit. The music video-- that was all my choreography. [Laughs]
How was it working with Trevor and Zach as directors?
They're fun to watch. Like, when they would disagree, it was very respectful. They would always try to split the difference. It was very much like if your friends were like 'Hey, let's shoot a movie.' It was very laid-back, fratboy style.
Every week I watch the show there's a different great director. Can you talk about what working with all those directors has meant to you?
Everybody has a different sensibility. Back when I did Friends, I did one of the final four episodes, and it was a well-oiled machine. You read the script, you didn't even have to read the names to know who was saying what. I think we're getting to a point where we kind of run it like a machine. It's not like when somebody's directing a movie. They kind of play on our field. I like to be directed, so I'll look for little nuances or what have you.
What is it like working with Steve Carell every week as Michael?
When we get together, man, if you could see some of the stuff that's done. I think we were shooting "fluffy fingers," and we just kept improvving back and forth. It got crazy. What you've got to do with Steve is you've got to try and not look him in the eye. You've got to remove yourself, or else you're going to crack up. He makes you a better actor. He can turn it on and off too. He's not just a silly guy walking around.
How does working with him compare to someone like Seth Rogen?
Seth doesn't stop. With the improv-- you're not going to beat him. You're not going to get the last word. If you feel like going for it, it's all day with him.
How long do you get the sense that The Office can keep going on, because everyone's careers are taking off? Are you guys planning on staying put?
It looks like it. I can't speak for everyone else, but they would have to drag me out of there.
At what point in your life did you know that comedy was meant for you?
I remember one time being in college, and I watched a lot of David Letterman. It was like in a stage when I thought I was going to be a musician. Then comedy would just overtake. I was so silly, and it would just overtake everything. People would come back and repeat things that I'd said.
Where do you see yourself going from here?
I'm just going with the flow. It's pretty sweet right now. I've got some stuff coming out this year. I'm looking at a couple of lead roles, leading a movie. That would be nice to step into the lead.
Do you see yourself going into dramatic stuff as well?
That would be nice. I'm definitely open to it. It's funny with Hollywood. I think Anthony Hopkins said he likes comedy, but he's been dealt the drama card, and that's how you've got to roll. I'm enjoying doing comedy, and I'm not anywhere near tired. We'll just have to see.
Do you have any desire to make it as a director or a writer?
Yes. I'm working on a project, it's in the early beginning stages. I haven't really been focused on that yet.
Do you have any limitations in how far you'd go with comedy?
I'm starting to think I don't. One thing about being in this business is I've had to broaden my sense of humor. Sometimes I'll get something and not know where it's funny, but I'll be in a table read, and people will laugh. I'm kind of open to whatever. Especially with some of the people who I've worked with.