When Tyler Perry’s latest film Peeples hits theaters on May 10, it will be a movie of firsts.
It will be the directorial debut for Tina Gordon Chism, who wrote the screenplay for Drumline and ATL.
It will be the first comedy role for ABC-TV “Scandal” star Kerry Washington, too.
But for funnyman Craig Robinson, it will be his first chance to show off his acting chops in a lead role.
Robinson talked with the AFRO recently about the movie and what’s next for his career.
In the film, Robinson plays Wade Walker, boyfriend of Grace Peeples (Kerry Washington), who crashes the Peeples’ annual family reunion to ask for her hand in marriage. Wade quickly realizes that the Peeples are up-scale Black folks, unlike himself, but they aren’t without their own secrets.
Prepping for the role of Wade, Robinson said he courted co-star Washington to get to know her better, taking her out on dates and buying her gifts.
“Kerry and I we went on a couple of dates and we got to know each other,” Robinson told the AFRO. “We got to know who [Wade and Grace] were as a couple and it involved me sending her roses and stuff. It was sweet. It was me preparing to fall in love with Kerry Washington, which is not that hard.”
Although Washington does not have a background in comedy, Robinson said she is a natural and can make anyone laugh.
While the film took more than two and a half years to go from script to the big screen, Robinson said he can still remember what made him decide to commit to the project--Chism’s excitement about the story.
“Tina Gordon Chism-- as a first time director-- she was pitching it to me and you could see the passion when she was talking about it,” said Robinson. “And the thing that closed it, she said, ‘You get to spank Kerry Washington.’”
Robinson said he was also drawn to the film by the chance to work with one of his comedic idols, David Alan Grier, who he called the “father of the set.”
Some movie critics, such as Travis Hopson of the Examiner, compare Peeples to a “in-law comedy that looks like someone was desperately trying to make an urban Meet the Parents.” But Robinson said he does not quite see it that way.
“The premise sounds like it a little bit, yes, but once you get into it, I think it’s quite different,” he said defending the film. “We’ve got David Alan Grier, the funniest dude that’s on the planet. And then we got some wild things that happened in [the movie].”
Robinson cited, for example, one his favorite scenes. He said while filming the scene when Grier’s character Virgil Peeples says, “We are Timex people, Timex,” and the entire family shows him their watches, he would burst out laughing during every take.
Like many comedians, Robinson said he realized when we was a young boy he could make people laugh. He could also ad lib, something he did during story time with his father.
Robinson said he contributes his big break to his role as Darryl Philbin on the hit television comedy series “The Office.”
“’The Office’ has definitely been amazing for my career. It’s opened so many doors and it also makes me feel like I’m everybody’s friend when I go places,” said Robinson.
Robinson said he is excited about upcoming projects. He just finished a pilot for NBC called “Mr. Robinson” based on his former career as a music teacher. And in the wings are two films that are to be released this summer-- Rapture-Palooza which is scheduled to open in theaters June 7 and This Is The End, which is to open June 12.