Craig Robinson Takes the Lead in ‘Killing It’ While Holding Out Hope for an ‘Office’ Reunion


Craig Robinson spent years stealing scenes in movies like Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, and This Is the End and on TV—most memorably as Darryl on The Office—before scoring his first major lead role in Killing It, a new streaming series that lands on Peacock this week.

In this episode of The Last Laugh podcast, Robinson talks about the challenges of working with live snakes in the new show and looks back on highlights from his career, including trying not to laugh opposite Steve Carell’s Michael Scott, why he’s glad he didn’t know Leslie Mann was Judd Apatow’s wife while filming Knocked Up, singing with Rihanna in This Is the End, and a lot more.

If there’s one character besides Darryl that fans recognize Robinson as most, it’s probably Doug Judy, arch-nemesis of Andy Samberg’s Jake Peralta on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which wrapped up its final season last fall. It was that show’s co-creator Dan Goor and longtime writer Luke Del Tredici who first came to Robinson with the idea of making a series about snake hunters with him at the center.

“There was just something about it,” he tells me about the unconventional premise. “I was like, I don’t see anything like this on TV.”

In the show, Robinson plays a divorced dad in Florida who enters a snake-hunting competition—despite a deep fear of snakes—because no one will give him a bank loan to get his elaborate business plan off the ground.

“Snakes get a bad rap,” the actor says, “between the Bible and Indiana Jones.” A few years back, Robinson traveled to Australia with his band The Nasty Delicious and was initially afraid to touch one of the reptiles when the opportunity arose. But when he finally worked up the courage, he says, “I couldn’t believe how beautiful it felt.”

Stephen Merchant on ‘The Outlaws,’ ‘The Office,’ and Rumors of ‘Falling Out’ With Ricky Gervais

“I ended up holding two snakes around my neck—not at the same time—and I was like, ‘Man, I’ve been wrong, snakes are cool,’” he recalls. “So I mean, I’m not telling anybody to go out to a swamp and find a snake and be like, ‘Hey snake,’ but I am saying that I am no longer afraid of snakes.”

When I ask if there were any close calls with the live snakes they used during filming, Robinson deadpans, “Well, two grips got killed, got eaten by snakes,” before clarifying, “No animals were harmed and no people were harmed.”

The first episode of Killing It popped up early on Peacock this month with the rest of the season dropping this Thursday, April 14. In the exclusive clip below from episode 2, Robinson’s character, also named Craig, gets some advice from competitor—and potential partner—Jillian G., played by Australian comedian Claudia O’Doherty, who does some serious scene-stealing herself throughout the series.

Leading a high-profile show like this one is a new experience for Robinson, who has mostly existed on the periphery of comedies like The Office and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The former series unexpectedly changed his life and career when he was first cast in a recurring role a few episodes into the first season, and then “promoted” from the warehouse to main cast years later.

Robinson considers Darryl “the voice of reason” on The Office, describing him as a “hard-working dude who was just trying to take care of his daughter and get ahead in any way he could” in a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of way. His laid-back confidence made him a particularly great foil for Carell’s Michael Scott, or as only Darryl called him, “Mike.”

“It was like championship game day,” Robinson says of the times he would go one-on-one with Carell in scenes. “He has this ability to turn it on at the drop of a dime and he has moves that he goes to that he knows will make you laugh. So it was always a challenge, because you want to do good and come up with something on the spot if need be. And it was super-fun, because he’s the ultimate improv partner. ‘Yes and’ all day.”

Unlike Carell, who left the show after its seventh season and has expressed skepticism about a reboot (“I just don’t think it’s a great idea. People who love the show love it because of what it was. And if you try to bring it back, it won’t be that,” he told me in 2017), Robinson is very much open to the idea.

“If they said, ‘Hey, we’re doing a reunion’ or what have you, I would be like, ‘Yo, what’s up? What’s Darryl doing now?’” Robinson says. “If Greg Daniels is spearheading it, then it is going to be fantastic.”

Listen to the episode now and subscribe to ‘The Last Laugh’ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts, and be the first to hear new episodes when they are released every Tuesday.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.