Craig Robinson and Rob Huebel discuss their on camera dominance/submissive relationship in the movie “Rapture-Palooza” and how improvising some of the material played well. Read the interview and see how they interact off screen.
From director Paul Middleditch (“Separation City”) and screenwriter Chris Matheson (“Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”) comes the end of days comedy “Rapture-Palooza.” The film tells the story about the apocalypse, and what occurs after a billion people are raptured up to heaven. Lindsey (Anna Kendrick) and her boyfriend Ben (John Francis Daley) are left behind in suburban Seattle. The young couple try their best to lead a normal life surrounded by talking locusts, blood rain showers, and pot-smoking wraiths. But when the Anti-Christ (The Office’s Craig Robinson) makes his home base in their neighborhood, Lindsey finds herself the object of his affection. With the help of her family, friends, and a lawn-mowing zombie neighbor, the young couple set off to stop the Anti-Christ from taking her as his bride… and just maybe, saving the world in the process.
Hosted by Lionsgate, comedic actors Craig Robinson and Rob Huebel had a chance to engage the press during a roundtable discussion at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. The pair talked about their work and chemistry on “Rapture-Palooza” and more. This is what they had to say.
Q: So you have a sort of dominance/submissive relationship in this movie, did this tick up out of the cement or did this come naturally for you guys?
Huebel: That wasn’t even in the script, I don’t think, was it?
Huebel: That just came out first thing.
Robinson: It was improv and we did some other ridiculous stuff where I had a hypnotic hold on him.
Huebel: Oh yeah, you had like a Darth Vader strangle hold on me.
Robinson: Like I was just holding my hand up to his face and he’s… (choking noise)
Huebel: This is one of those movie where we were given free rein to improvise a lot, and so we had a lot of fun horsing around with bits like that and so we thought it would be funny if he could really use his Anti-Christ powers over me and just sort of lord… you know just like… the worst boss ever.
Robinson: The dominance/submissive thing it just worked and played and then immediately (director) Middleditch was like… “MORE THAT!”
Q: Was that your goal to play the Anti-Christ?
Robinson: I was doing a movie for Lionsgate and then they shot me the script and I dug it and I saw how much fun this character was going to have. So, it became my goal once I was aware, but before that I never thought, “You know I want to play…” No.
Huebel: It’s also good you got to this part before Daniel Day-Lewis got to this part.
Robinson: I know right. I know right. But he goes five years between movies.
Q: Craig, you’ve got two apocalypse movies coming out within a few weeks of each other. Do you know something we don’t?
Huebel: You guys have all repented, right?
Robinson: I’m not supposed to talk about it, but I will. “This is the End” was shot last year and it’s coming out this year. Where is “Rapture” was shot probably two years ago about 2011. But what’s interesting about both of them is, when we were doing “Rapture” the minister had predicted that the world was gonna end.
Huebel: There’s some famous minister that at that time was calling for it.
Robinson: He revised it and then he said, “I’m not going to predict anymore.” And of course, once we shot “This is the End,” the Mayan Calendar predicted that the world was going to end last year. So, I don’t know. I have no preconceived anything about it.
Q: Can we expect an apocalypse trilogy?
Huebel: If we keep shooting apocalyptic movies, eventually we’re gonna be right! Eventually, we’re gonna say, “See, it was this month!”
Q: So, the Anti-Christ promises Lindsey, because she’s a virgin, no anal on the first date. So, can we infer that he’s a class act, he’s a real gentleman?
Robinson: Well, absolutely, I mean that’s something you kind of want to slide into on a second date. He definitely feels like he’s being charming and classy, but clearly he’s just saying the worst things that you would never say to anybody on any date. But for some reason he thinks it’s the sexiest things. I think one of the funniest lines Huebel actually pitched, where he’s like, “Can I get you some sausage, some corn on the cob, other dick shaped foods?”
Q: Do you kinda see him as sort of an amalgam of a lot of different public personalities ’cause he seems to have a certain style?
Huebel: It does make sense that he would come out of the world of politics.
Robinson: I saw ‘The Devil’ in him and that’s what I kept playing towards. And you know, I’ve had some party nights where I felt like, “Okay, okay, I’ve danced with the devil in the pale moon light,” so I think I can draw on this.
Q: When you’re given the power to improv in a project like this, do you give any thought at all to crossing lines? Or, are there any lines to cross? Do you worry about it at all?
Robinson: You just go for it. No, there’s no thoughts of crossing lines. All that stuff, if something goes awry can get edited out or what have you. I think it’s better to just go for it and then cut it down than to start limiting or editing yourself.
Q: If you all became the Anti-Christ, what would be the first thing you would do?
Huebel: What are the rules of that? So you can do just whatever you want if you become the Anti-Christ?
Robinson: Something with food. I would go to New Orleans and I would just get free food. Go around gettin’ Po’ Boys.
Huebel: We were in New Orleans doin’ two different movies but last year. So, that seems like a pretty debaucheries place. Yeah, I’d become the mayor of New Orleans. Or just be like a rock star or it seems like rock stars are pretty much like or at least eighties rock stars. Now, I guess it’s changed but like rock stars a while ago. That’s pretty much you could do whatever you want… And in the movie too you blow up Orlando, you know? Right away just take out Orlando.
Robinson: I would try to keep the peace. I would be a different kind of Anti-Christ.
Huebel: Well, the cool thing in the movie, there’s that one scene where you get shot over and over and over and just keep coming back to life. So like, that’s kind of cool you can do whatever you want and like not have to worry about getting hurt.
Robinson: Well, it hurt to get shot all those times. It definitely was like “awwwrrrr.”
Huebel: That was just squibs right? Exploding?
Robinson: No, no, no, they shot me. Absolutely. To come back that was the fun part. To come back… “rrrrrrrrr!”
Q: You guys only had an eighteen day shoot on this thing, is this like doing a TV project?
Huebel: TV has way more.
Robinson: Kudos to Paul Middleditch for doing like somewhere like fifty-five ridiculous setups a day and getting the shots he wanted, and being fast and being on it. I think he comes from commercials and (the) DP (Director of Photography) world as well. There were times he would say, “I got it!” He would sit behind the camera and actually shoot the thing. So, he was on it.
Huebel: It’s also cool, I think we were shooting some kind of crazy camera too, where like if the light changes and stuff it doesn’t matter like they can digitally just… cause remember it was raining. I don’t know if you (to Robinson) were there this one day, it was raining at the very end when (Rob) Corddry and I were together with these bikini girls. I was like this is not going to look like much of a party. It was pouring down rain and when you look at it you can’t even tell it’s raining.
Q: Does this kind of thing affect what you guys do for your job? Or, does it just get the adrenaline pumping even more?
Huebel: You mean now that they know they can make a movie in eighteen days?
Q: I always wonder why they don’t do it more often actually.
Huebel: You have to be really light on your feet to do a movie in eighteen days. There’s some productions where the script, there’s just too many locations and you wouldn’t be able to do it. This movie is like a pretty self-contained movie. You know where a lot of it was shot around that mansion where we actually shot like you know we shot inside that house that you see, and we shot outside that house. So, that makes it pretty easy where you don’t have to travel and go to all these different locations and stuff like that. So, I think for a certain type of movie you can crank it out pretty fast, but for a lot of like big, big Hollywood movies there’s just no way to do it that fast.
Robinson: Are you going to direct something?
Huebel: I directed a movie it comes out this weekend called “Oblivion” with Tom Cruise. We shot that in like a week.
Robinson: You sound like a director.
Q: Rob your comedic persona in a lot of broader roles like in “I Love You, Man” and “The Other Guys” has a puffed up sort of bravado to it. You also have a softer grounded comedic presence in something like “The Descendants.” Where would you say your actual sort of comedic voice lies if you had to pick a vehicle?
Huebel: I like to do both of those things. It’s really fun for me to play. I love like playing like douche bags and like you know a$$holes. I just love that. I have a couple of brothers and we just grew up making fun of guys like that, that are just like loud cocky jerks. I think that’s really funny, but you can’t make a living just doing that you know. When I’m lucky enough to get to work with somebody like Alexander Payne like that’s just a totally different kind of movie that’s like a different tone and everything where it’s very subdued and very realistic characters and not a lot of like blowhards in a movie like “The Descendants.” To answer your question, I think it’s fun to go back and forth and play like big characters and then if you get a chance play something more relatable and small and realistic. If you’re lucky you get to do both.
Q: Craig, you’re about to see the end of the final season of your show (The Office) on TV. Bittersweet or time to go?
Robinson: I was in the editing bay the other day watching a cut and started to watch what will probably be in outtakes, but it was Rainn Wilson going around doing a karate thing and we were all just laughing and man that’s what I’m going to miss being entertained by these amazing actors on a daily basis. You’re so spoiled, but as far as being a time to go (writer) Greg Daniels couldn’t of taken us out more classy and shepherded us to feel like there was an ending. As comfortable and wonderful as the show is, we did have an ending. So, it’s like, I’m okay with it. To the flipside of that, if we were coming back next season we would have ended… now and then we’d come back in August. So, I won’t know really ’til August how I feel.
Huebel: Cause he would have been on break this summer anyway.
Robinson: I would have been on break anyway now. It was a little sad around the set. We had a send off. We gave gifts to the crew and all that stuff and then we had a little party, and then we had an extra party. It was a really nice send off, and I made some really special friendships over there. So, I’m definitely going to miss seeing some people on a daily basis. You know, I’m okay with it.
Q: Knowing the insecurity that kind of goes along with an actor’s job, have you given any thought at all to that first morning when you wake up and realize you’re unemployed?
Huebel: This guy’s in so many movies. He’s doing two press junkets today.
Robinson: You do have to think about that, and I was lucky enough to shoot a pilot a week after we wrapped. So, I went right into production on that. So, now I’m in a “bubble of hope” or you might know it as “fingers crossed” that this pilot gets picked up for NBC. It’s called “Mr. Robinson.” And if that happens, I can go a little bit longer.
Huebel: What most people don’t know is that “The Office” ends in a rapture scenario. It just blows up.
Robinson: Really, you just gave a spoiler.
Huebel: Don’t put that out there!
Q: What’s with you and hot tubs? And then, you die in a hot tub.
Robinson: I love hot tubs. It’s fantastic to be in a hot tub. I think we all know with your clothes on. I don’t know. It keeps happening. It just keeps happening. I think it was just a cool way for us to die. You get this epic battle between God and Devil and then you get killed by a radio. (Laughs) Like what’s a radio doing right there? So yeah, that was just how it rolled.
Q: Your other film “Peeples” has a poster that like several posters have been overtaken by a poster for another Lionsgate movie called “You’re Next” that’s coming out in August. You see one of the killers from that movie stalking the characters.
Robinson: I heard about that the crossover like there’s one for “Temptation” as well. Lionsgate is doing this…
Q: And “The Big Wedding,” they have the killers in there too.
Robinson: I have not seen that yet.
Huebel: Are all those Lionsgate movies?
Q: Lionsgate has like a black mask sort of killer stalking all the characters in all the posters.
Robinson: There is a “Peeples” poster out where you have the family dressed in a nice white and black in a family picture and then there on the beach in the front I’m just buried up to my head in sand. So either it looks like, you know, they decapitated me and put me there or it looks like I’m coming out of the sand to kill this family. So it’s a weird way to promote a comedy, but (sings) “Go Lionsgate baby!” Yeah, I’ve heard about that cross promotion thing. I haven’t seen it yet. It sounds pretty interesting.
Q: Were you all fans of “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” because of the writer of this film?
Robinson: Yeah, yeah, absolutely back in the day.
Huebel: That’s one of those movies that still holds up too like comedy wise, you know. I mean I love movies, I’m sure you do too, that are aggressively stupid like just like it’s so dumb it’s so funny.
Robinson: “Airplane” and stuff like that.
Huebel: Yeah, it’s absurd, you know. I’m a big fan of absurdity in comedy and that was a ground breaking movie in that department.
Q: Craig, usually when you work with kids you have to protect them, nurture them, but Beast’s relationship with Little Beast (Bjorn Yearwood) is pretty contentious. Was that kind of a new experience of just basically yelling at a kid and sending him on his way?
Robinson: Kids, I love working with kids, and it’s so inappropriate to yell at a kid like that, and you know, that’s just what made it funny for me. And Middleditch could have been more like, “YES! YES! SAY THAT! TELL HIM, “F*^K THAT LITTLE BASTARD!”” Yeah, it was so inappropriate, but I’m completely the opposite, you know, when it comes to real life. I used to be a school teacher and I love children and, you know, I’m a big kid myself.
Q: And you taught elementary, right?
Robinson: K through eight music, yes.
Q: Along the same lines, when you’re doing some of that inappropriate banter with (Anna) Kendrick, do you have to put yourself in a special frame of mind? I mean, is it hard wrapping your mind around talking to someone like that?
Robinson: As a comedian… no! It was really me bouncing the most, you know, inappropriate stuff I could say. He was an inappropriate character, inappropriate person. I didn’t have to stress too far ’cause I’ve said things like that all through my comedy career. I’ve always kind of gotten away with it ’cause I play the piano underneath. So, here was a chance to hear it out loud without the music background, which probably gave it a little kick.
Huebel: And Anna’s so funny, she’s like we knew her before and she’s got like a funny sense of humor and you can’t offend her at all. She’s small and beautiful and looks like fragile, but is not at all fragile.
Q: As mentioned, you’ve got three movies coming out, and you’re working on other stuff and you did a pilot. What does this do to your music career and stand-up career?
Robinson: Stand-up is always going to be there. You know, God willing, the people keep coming out to see me. The music career, I always say once I get forty I’m going to get serious about music. It’s funny. I have a band called Nasty Delicious. I’m going to have a song on the soundtrack of “This is the End” with Snoop Lion. So, that’s very exciting. You know, we’ll see where it goes from there, but I definitely want to do some funny stuff. I want to do some, you know, straight ahead serious stuff. And my band, I’ve got some of the baddest musicians in the world. So, we can go anywhere.
Everyone: Thank you!
Robinson: Now, did you enjoy the movie?
“Rapture-Palooza” will arrive in theaters on June 7th. The film stars Anna Kendrick, Ken Jeong, John Francis Daley, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Ana Gasteyer, Thomas Lennon, Tyler Labine, Rob Huebel, Calum Worthy, Paul Scheer, Stephanie Paul, Andrew Fiscella, Dante Lee Arias, Dalila Bela, and Bjorn Yearwood. Chris Matheson wrote the script, while Paul Middleditch directs.