AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN is a very strange film that we here at AICN really enjoyed. In her review of the film (which can be read in its entirety HERE), our own Annette Kellerman responded warmly to its unique charms, quirky heart, and overall oddness. She then was able to have an extensive chat with the film’s director Jim Hosking and its writer, David Wike at this year’s Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX.
Part 1 of that interview can be found HERE
Part 2 can be found HERE
I am bringing our coverage of AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN to a close today with an interview I conducted recently with Beverly Luff Linn, himself: Actor/Comedian/Musician Craig Robinson!
Craig Robinson is most well-known for his roles on the hit sitcoms THE OFFICE and BROOKLYN 99. He has also starred in numerous films as well, such as THIS IS THE END, HOT TUBE TIME MACHINE, and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS.
His role as the enigmatic performer, Beverly Luff Linn, is unlike anything he has ever done before and I was very eager to ask him all about it. We ended up covering a pretty wide range of topics in the course of our conversation though as Robinson proved himself to be a fun and lively interview subject. Enjoy!
Wheels: Hi Craig. This is Matthew from AICN. Thanks for taking time to talk to me today.
Craig Robinson: How you doing buddy? Thank you.
Wheels: I'm doing great! I saw AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN a couple days ago. I really enjoyed it. I have a lot of questions for you about it.
Craig Robinson: Okay cool, thank you.
Wheels: Thank you. So what attracted you to want to make this film?
Craig Robinson: Well, I had the script. I hadn't read it yet, I saw THE GREASY STRANGLER, and that's [director] Jim Hosking's other movie. Once I saw that, I loved how weird it was. I loved how just out there it was, so I went and read the script. I knew I wanted to work with Jim. I was like, "If this script makes me laugh then I'm in," and it made me laugh. So. Here we are.
Wheels: Jim Hosking has got such an unusual sensibility. I don't think anyone's quite making films like Jim is right now. They're so unique.
Craig Robinson: Yeah, we were talking about, people have been saying it's like the Three Stooges meets David Lynch or John Waters or whatever and I'm like eventually you just gotta put Jim Hosking's name up there because it's like he's doing his own thing.
Wheels: I can see little bits of influence, but he really synthesized it into his own unique flavor. So tell me about performing with so little actual dialogue through most of the film. You spend so much of the film just expressing yourself through grunts. What was that like as a performer and how did you prepare for that?
Craig Robinson: It was twofold. It was awesome because I didn't have to learn dialogue but it there was also the challenge of having to convey what this character's saying through grunts. So you just think about what the character's saying and grunt as you go. But that's one of the things that really attracted me because it's such a departure from anything I'd ever done.
Wheels: So you spent most of the movie working with Matt Berry [THE I.T. CROWD], can you tell me a little bit about what it was like to work with Matt?
Craig Robinson: Matt is awesome. He's brilliant. I'm a fan of his TOAST OF LONDON series. It's so good. And we would have these moments where he would say something because his voice is also very distinct and it would make me laugh have you ever seen the short he did where he's trying to help two little girls and they said they have a boyfriend and he stops helping them?
Wheels: Yeah, that's a good one,
Craig Robinson: So I'm a fan. And so to work with him and be paired up with him was awesome for me and we just had a ball, man. He was great.
Wheels: Did you have fun wearing all those different outrageous outfits as Beverly Luff Linn?
Craig Robinson: I loved it. The outfits, everything is equally important, the setting, the acting, the actors. The outfits. You wear this stuff and oh as soon as you see yourself you are that character you know? So, it thought the costume designer was fabulous.
Wheels: It really sets the mood for the entire film. And this is a silly question but how long did you have to stand on that exercise machine where you're rocking back and forth?
Craig Robinson: [laughs] That's a great question. We probably just shot that thing for 45 minutes. That wasn't planned or anything I just got on it and that was the natural thing to do and I didn't want to be too silly but then Jim said, keep doing it like that and I was like “okay”.
Wheels: Well there’s something about the rhythmic quality of it. It just gets funnier the longer that you watch it, it's almost like a metronome.
Craig Robinson: But the fact that he's grunting through the whole scene [makes a grunting noise], that's what cracks me up.
Wheels: Was the music at the film at the end, not to go too far into spoilers but was that described in a lot of detail in the script or did you collaborate with Jim about what the sound would be at the end of the film?
Craig Robinson: No, they just gave us some music to listen to and we just repeated it.
Wheels: So, it was all planned out?
Craig Robinson: Yeah, Jim knew what he wanted, yeah.
Wheels: Huh. Because those songs are so unusual, I didn't know if they were real songs or if he wrote them out. I was really curious about that because they really caught me off guard. I don't know what I was expecting at the end of the film but it certainly wasn't that. it was quite a surprise.
Wheels: Who were some of your biggest influences as an actor, as a comedian?
Craig Robinson: Richard Pryor.
Wheels: Of course.
Craig Robinson: He was cool, man. Eddie Murphy, through and through. You know, I mean the list goes on. If we are talking about just straight up comedy I gotta put in Steve Martin. I gotta put in Martin Mull. And then Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor were everything to me. I did a movie with Eddie Murphy recently and every day was trying to act like I wasn't on cloud nine.
Wheels: So I have to ask about that I was going to wait towards the end but you're in the Rudy Ray Moore biopic with Eddie, right? MY NAME IS DOLEMITE? Can you tell me anything about that? I'm super excited for it.
Craig Robinson: I mean the cast is crazy, it's got Mike Epson, Eddie Murphy and obviously myself, Titus Burgess, Keegan-Michael Key, Wesley Snipes. And then it's like, if Craig Brewer directed it. So, it is really going for that 70s vibe, that Dolomite vibe and I couldn't be more happy or proud to be part of something, I think it's just gonna be incredible.
Wheels: I certainly do too and like I said I can't wait for it. I'm a big fan of Craig's stuff, I love Rudy Ray Moore, I think it's just a great melding of talent and material for sure.
Anyway, to go in a more general direction, what makes you laugh?
Craig Robinson: What makes me laugh? You know what, just recently I was watching this new show BIG MOUTH - Nick Kroll's show.
Wheels: Yeah, it's good stuff.
Craig Robinson: Did you see the first episode of this new season?
Wheels: I've not seen the new season yet. I've seen last season though.
Craig Robinson: Well there's this scene where I forget the character's name but he ran away from home and he's like my parents are probably worried sick and the parents really don't notice. They show the mother, they show her sliding food under his door and in the end they show dog coming to eat it. So here's the dog picking up some pizza and he looks at himself in the mirror with the pizza in his mouth. And then the dog just clearly says "…Yeah."
And the music plays. And I was like get out of my life y'all, what are y'all doing? Just stuff like that. Or I was watching this thing with FAMILY GUY where Lois and Peter were having this discussion, he was trying to get directions from her and she couldn't find them in time.
It was just a real couple moment where he was super frustrated and then she got frustrated with him so I like those real-life moments that just hit out of nowhere in cartoons apparently. [laughs]
Wheels: Well, I think there's stuff very much like that in AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN as well, I mean it's covered up with some veneer of weirdness but there's still a lot of rawness in that film and a lot of truths about awkwardness and relationships and so to me that answer makes perfect sense.
Craig Robinson: I was saying how this movie is for anybody who has ever felt awkward in your life. I think Beverly Luff Linn even says in the end I want to give away that line but maybe between me and you where he goes, [REMOVED SPOILERS]
Wheels: And don't worry I won't spoil that at all. But I totally agree.
Craig Robinson: And then Jemaine's like. Yeah. [Laughs]
Wheels: Jemaine Clement [FX’s LEGION] slays in the film. He's so great as the heart of the movie. But back to you… you're a triple threat, I mean you act, you do stand up, you make music. Out of those three activities, what's the most fulfilling for you? Which do you enjoy most?
Craig Robinson: Wow. It's like choosing between your kids man.
Craig Robinson: But live performance is so, interactively stand up and it's usually me doing music. I bet you music is the number one answer for that because I can just disappear into a song or something and really express myself. I have yet to express myself as fully as I want doing music because it's just so vulnerable. But yeah, music, singing, playing.
Wheels: Do you have any plans to record any music in the future?
Craig Robinson: I have a band it's called the “Nasty Delicious” so we have recorded stuff, so I'm gonna finish that and put an album out. And I might put out the song, one song first. I really dig it and it's kind of a love song, we've just gotta finish it.
Wheels: I can't wait to hear it. We are almost out of time, Craig, do you have anything else you want to let my readers know about the film or yourself or any projects that you got coming out?
Craig Robinson: Well one of the projects is can TIMMY FAILURE, a Disney movie job that I just did, I was recording it. Timmy Failure was this kid, Winslow Fegley – just an amazing 10 year old actor. He might be 11 now but it was quite the experience working with somebody so young who was such a professional.
Wheels: What's that about? I don't think I've heard anything about it yet.
Craig Robinson: Apparently, it's a book series which I have not read. It's about this 10 year old who has a detective agency and this imaginary polar bear for a best friend.
Wheels: So, what do you play in this movie if you don't mind me asking.
Craig Robinson: I play one of his counselors at his school.
[We are informed that we are out of time.]
Wheels: Okay, well we are out of time. So Craig, thank you so much for talking with me today, I really do appreciate it. I hope the project does really well for you.
Craig Robinson: Thank you Matt.
AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN is available now on VOD, Digital HD, and in select theaters.
- Matthew Essary