Craig Robinson – Ghosted
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I’m producing a movie and I have a little part in it. It’s called Tragedy Girls and it comes out October 27th. It stars Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp. It’s directed by Tyler MacIntyre. Brianna and Alexandra are in that Marvel universe and Tyler is an incredible director. This is like a horror/comedy that I think is going to be a lot of fun. It’s like a mixture of Scream and Mean Girls. We premiere it next week and then it comes out to everybody else.
Q) We’re seeing you star and produce the film. How hands on were you with creating the film?
A) It came my way via my manager. I wasn’t involved much with the casting. In “Ghosted” I’m very hands on, but this one I came on and was a part of it. Then, we’d do it as we go.
Q) We have seen you branch out recently for a dramatic turn on “Mr. Robot” and then now you’re back on to comedy with “Ghosted.” How do you select the projects you work on?
A) I wish! I just have a really good team that brings me projects. They might say, “I’m interested in this for you,” or they might say, “Someone is interested and we like it.” So, my team – we lean on each other. It’s my manager and agent. We discuss it and work it. “How do you feel about this? Is this just for fun or indie cred?” Whatever it is we discuss it and then we figure out the next move.
Q) How was your character Leroy Wright originally pitched to you on “Ghosted?”
A) Tom Gormican wrote this treatment and it was like “a badass black dude with a badass afro” and I was like, “I’m listening…” And it was very funny and well done. It was like twelve pages and it was a super funny part. We were both like “Adam Scott.” Adam came and came running. So, it was really taking a risk because I didn’t know Tom, but once I met him it was like, “This dude is cool.” When we started pitching it was like, “He knows everybody!” So, we had a good time pitching it, they write it, it got picked up and here we are!
Q) You have great comedic timing. Has it always been natural to you or have you had to work at it?
A) It’s a defense mechanism a bit. [laughs] I would try to stay out of scary situations. My parents are funny people. My mother is hysterical. She always says my grandfather was real funny. My father is kind of the ham. We all are musicians so there is timing there as well. I’ve always been super silly. Always. So, when I learned you could do comedy for a living that’s the first thing I took seriously in my life.
Q) When you and Adam were paired up for the series did you have to do a chemistry read or was it just apparent between the two of you?
A) We did not have a chemistry read. However, when we were pitching the show I knew it was something special because we did something I’ve never ever done in a pitch – we acted out like three scenes. So, Tom is over there pitching and Adam and I were doing a couple lines to show what our chemistry would be. We did that a couple times to emphasize the point and what have you. So, when we did that they saw Adam was cool and that we bounced off each other. He is like the ultimate improvisational partner. He’s always ready to take the ball and run.
Q) Is there much room to improv on the show?
A) Yes, it’s encouraged and we have a blast doing it. We have a script, but if something comes up in the moment it is fair game.
Q) Since it is a paranormal series, I’m sure many people have been asking if you believe in ghosts or have any ghost stories.
A) Yes! They have…I always tell them “yes” and they always want a story and I never want to tell a story.
Q) Were you always a fan of the sci-fi genre or has the recent trend grown on you?
A) I dig the sci-fi genre. I know that there are super die-hard fans and I can’t say I’m on that level. I remember standing in line for Star Wars in 1977 and the line went around the block. I remember thinking, “Why are we waiting out here?” Not in a bad way! I was a kid, but I knew something big was happening. So, I’ve been a fan of the genre.
Q) What have been some of your most memorable moments from filming “Ghosted?”
A) This past week’s episode with Jermaine the zombie. There was a moment where I turned into a zombie. My character starts eating an air bag or a steering wheel and Max is like, “Eat is Zombie Leroy! Eat it!” That line, we cracked up! I play that line in my head probably ten times a day. So, we do have our moments where you crack up and it’s funny. People will ask, “What happens on the set when…” or “Hey, are there any pranks?” You don’t really have time to mess around. Yes, we do laugh and crack up, but there are no times for pranks or any of that stuff. We don’t have time for that stuff. There is definitely laughing in there, but you’re going for the laugh. If you can make the crew laugh, you know you are doing something good.
Q) What do you think it is about the show that has made it a fast fan favorite?
A) Some people have been saying that they feel it’s original. Some people love the chemistry between Adam and myself. Some people love that genre of sci-fi. There is a reason, which makes sense. Those three have been coming around: originality, Adam and myself and they like the sci-fi angle. We get to be stupid for half an hour.
Q) I loved seeing you on “The Office.” What do you think it is about the series that continues to make it such an iconic show and so quotable?
A) There are still memes and quizzes to say “Which member of ‘The Office’ are you?” I think a lot of people can relate form a real office standpoint. These are people that look like real people – not Hollywood glamor. There were some glamorous people on there, sure, but for the most part they were real people. And I think people can identify with that. Also, they really tugged at your funny bone and at your heartstrings. They just blended it so beautifully that it can surprise you with heart and humor.
Q) What did you personally take away from time on the show?
A) With any series or project that I do I always look at the lead and I would just learn different things. With Steve Carell, it was how talented, gracious and amazing he was. He could turn it on and off and I saw him work crowds and the set. He was magic! Then, I was on shows like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Bernie Mac” and then seeing Seth Rogen do his thing…In the back of my mind, I’ve always been grooming myself for that type of role. I would take away that from watching Steve and then just being entertained every day all day by that group of people – whether it is improvising or during a scene or a conversation – it was nonstop entertainment. It was a beautiful experience all the way around.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your work?
A) I can’t thank you enough. Thank you for lifting me up. I can’t do it without you. Thank you for looking out and for the love. Some people are like, “Whatever you do, I’m rolling with you.” So, it’s amazing. It’s unbelievable. Even with some of the things you said today, I had to look in the mirror and be like, “She’s talking to you.” So, I feel blessed and humbled. Thank you.