With a slew of movies coming out in 2013 and the series-ending finale for his longtime series “The Office” airing Thursday night, Craig Robinson has jumped from one project to the next of late. Already known as a comedian and a musician, he’s added romantic leading man to his resume with his latest film “Peeples” and is one of the key ensemble players in the highly anticipated apocalyptic comedy “This Is the End.” In an increasingly rare moment away from a set, Robinson pulls back the curtain on his ongoing campaign to conquer Hollywood.
I won’t ask you for any spoilers on the finale of "The Office," but how hard was it saying good-bye?
It was pretty emotional for a lot of the cast. Personally, I didn’t cry or nothing but it was, people were really feeling the heaviness of it. It’s funny because I’m shooting a pilot now so I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to work Monday so could we wrap this up?’ No, I’m just kidding. The last take people were crying, and it was similar to when [Steve] Carrell let a couple of years ago. It was very serene on stage and very ethereal and stuff. It was a delicate moment.
When you got that last script, were you pretty happy with the way everything turns out?
I think it wrapped up nice, I think that everything the last episode of ‘The Office’ has, you’ve come to expect from it. It didn’t disappoint. It gave you everything you’ve come to expect: some heart, some humor, some awkwardness.
How did you find your way into ‘Peeples?’
Tina Gordon Chism pitched me. She was this first-time director, she had written these great movies and she just had this great spirit about her. And she was telling me about the cast, she said something about spanking Kerry Washington and then I said yes. But it really felt like we’d be a part of something special and different and uplifting, so it was like ‘Absolutely.’
The part was re-tailored for you, particularly to incorporate your musical abilities.
Music is my partner, and it has been through my career. Even if something doesn’t call for it, it’s always been ‘Oh, throw in some piano playing. Throw in some soul singing.’ It’s always been that way. It wasn’t surprising that it happened, and I’m glad it did, because I do recognize that it’s special.
How did Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg recruit you for “This Is the End?”
They said, ‘We got something cooking, and we make sure that everyone gets on.’ And then they told me the idea and I saw the script. And I think I was the first one to sign up. It was a no-brainer to come rock with these guys again. I knew they were doing something different and big. I was absolutely on board.
I watched you devastate a room one night at The Improv, just off the cuff, so I’ve seen you in action. How free did you get to be?
You had a script and obviously you’ve got the things that’s got to be done, but this script, no. Between Jonah [Hill] and James [Franco], those guys, they don’t stop. Seth is not going to stop. So it was like you had to jump in anywhere you fit in kind of thing. There was plenty of improv, and it was heavily encouraged. We just had a ball. You’re in a basement and your friend’s like, ‘Let’s shoot a movie.’ And you just happen to have millions of dollars worth of equipment.
How is Movie Craig similar to Real Craig and where is he different?
The fun of Movie Craig is you get do things you would never do in real life. ‘Real Craig’ is always infused in his characters because you’ve got to have the truth in what they’re doing. But I think the difference in this one is you see me smoking, I probably don’t smoke as much weed as ‘Movie Craig.’ I’ve had my moments. At least nowadays. This one they were trying to capture us as who we were. For instance, the shirt I have on ... Seth and them were like, “You had a party and you had a shirt on that said, ‘Take your panties off.’” And I was like, ‘Oh yeah.’ ‘We want to put that shirt in the movie.’ And I was like, ‘Okay.’ So it was a lot of ‘Real Craig’ in Craig.
Who’s the hardest person to keep a straight face with in a scene with?
The hardest person, let me see…I’m going to go between Seth and Danny [McBride]. It was a lot of, ‘Okay, come on, let’s do it again.’ It was a lot of those.
Who’s the easiest to break up when you’re doing your thing?
Easiest? Probably Seth. Seth is in it for the laughter.