By// Britni Danielle
For as long as he can remember, Craig Robinson has been a performer. “In nursery school I directed the student choir and I was in spelling bees all through high school,” the comedic actor recalls. “I’ve been on the stage since I was born— it’s in my blood.”
The Chicago native’s passion for performing never wavered— even after earning a master’s in education and becoming a music instructor at a local middle school. “I knew that I was going to do something with comedy and stand-up,” explains Robinson. “I just had to figure out how to become a comedian full-time. So I began teaching and was hitting the clubs at night.”
Moonlighting paid off. After conquering the comedy circuit and just trying to “get the audition,” he scored a recurring role on NBC’s hit sitcom, The Office. His portrayal of Darryl, a stock worker turned manager, led to memorable characters in films such as Pineapple Express and Hot Tub Time Machine. But it’s his latest big-screen part in Peeples (out May 10) that’s poised to transform Robinson into a household name.
The romantic comedy stars Robinson as an average Joe who wants to marry his accomplished girlfriend, Grace (Kerry Washington). But her father (David Alan Grier) doesn’t approve of his baby girl getting hitched to a slacker. Playing against Grier, who Robinson calls “the funniest man on two legs,” may seem like the perfect pairing, but the 41-year-old questioned if he was ready for his first leading role.
“I think I was kind of sabotaging my own thoughts,” he admits of his initial hesitation about taking the part. “But this was the most fun I had working on a movie… we were like a straight-up family.”
And Peeples is just one of many projects Robinson has in the works. The busy thespian has two other major films— the comedic fantasy Rapture-Palooza and the action-comedy This is the End— due out this summer. Plus, he just wrapped a sitcom pilot for NBC based on his life as a music teacher. “I hope it gets picked up. It was a joy,” he says of the show. “But the stage is the top. It’s instant gratification.”