Being around Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson immediately brings to mind director Tina Gordon Chism's words about her two lead actors - that Washington's svelte, fast and sharp while Robinson is deadpan and quieter, and the strength of those opposites makes them a great comic combination. Indeed, it was entertaining to watch the pair play off of each other. They made time to talk with me about playing a couple of opposites in Peeples, which opens today, Friday.
On creating chemistry as a couple
CRAIG: Unfairly probably, it was easy for me. Come on [points to Kerry]. But if you've ever tried to impress a young lady or wanted to make them laugh, you know I was constantly inspired to be charming around Kerry Washington.
KERRY: We both came at it like, "We have to work at creating chemistry and history," but the truth was, it was there. He's so great, it was so easy. I think when you respect somebody's work it's much easier to have that connection, and we really had a mutual admiration for each other's work. I'm obsessed with Hot Tub Time Machine. [laughs]
But we did the things you're supposed to do as an actor. We went to dinner and we talked about how we met and we came up with a back story. We had figured out all these details about the apartment, all these real things so that you believed their relationship, so that you believed in the love connection. Because you don't go down the journey of feeling bad for them unless you feel good about them.
On being a leading man
CRAIG: The pressure that you'd think would be there wasn't there. I think that's due to the people I was surrounded by. David Alan Grier was father of the set. He is the funniest man walking. So it was so much fun and we just laughed and sang and played, so it felt great for me. I couldn't have asked for a better coming out party as a leading man.
On making it funny
KERRY: For me it's like being a singer. When you work on your range you can't just warm up the high notes, you have to warm up the low notes as well to have the full spectrum of your voice. I don't feel completely alive if all I'm allowed to do is dramatic work. That's not the full range of what I can do, so it's always fun for me to be able to warm up the comedic part of my instrument and feel like that's as alive as the rest of the dramatic stuff.
I had just done a play on Broadway with David Alan Grier, which was a drama, but I knew from being in rehearsal and backstage with David how ridiculously silly he is. I also grew up watching In Living Color. So I knew that it would be an incredible ride with these guys. It was like getting paid to go to comedy school. I think especially now, we need reasons to laugh these days. And I'm proud that we're putting a film out in the world where you leave the theater feeling good about yourself and about life and love and family.
Peeples opens in theaters today, May 10.
For more, check out:
My interview with David Alan Grier, S. Epatha Merkerson, Tyler James Williams and the full Peeples cast HERE
Sergio's one-on-one interview with Craig Robinson HERE
My interview with producer Stephanie Allain and director Tina Gordon Chism HERE