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Craig Robinson talks “Hot Tub” sequel, “This Is the End” and more

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Craig Robinson pops miniature cupcakes in his mouth, each one representing an alien trapped in an Area 51 prison in his latest film, “Escape from Planet Earth.” A blue one is in reference to either of two brothers in the Supernova family, Gary (the brains, voiced by Rob Corddry) or Scorch (the brawn, voiced by Brendan Fraser). A red one is for Jane Lynch’s Cyclops alien named Io (Get it? Eye-O). An orange one is for George Lopez’s slimy mollusk alien Thurman. But where’s the one for Robinson’s character, a mouse-like alien named Doc, a famed intergalactic talk show therapist who invented social networking? What’s up with that, Doc? “I don’t know,” Robinson laughs. “I’d be delicious.”

Despite his character’s invention, Robinson himself was late to the Twitter party. “Very late,” he acknowledges. “I remember hearing Rainn Wilson talking about it on set [at ‘The Office’], maybe to Mindy [Kaling], and he and she both have over a million followers. I’m still stuck at two hundred thousand. But I’m terrible.”

If Robinson sees an image that makes him laugh, or if he’s at an event where he meets fellow celebs (such as the NAACP Image Awards after party, where he met up with Quvenzhané Wallis from “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and Amandla Stenberg who played Rue in “The Hunger Games”), he’ll tweet a picture. “But other than that, I don’t know how to use it exactly,” he says. “And I don’t want it to control me. And I can’t just let off everything. Some of it’s got to be saved for the stage, and who wants to hear what I’m thinking?”

Robinson used his real voice for the character of Doc, but amped up his positivity — he wanted the alien to be the one you turn to in disaster situations (“He feels like he has all the answers,” he says. “He’s the man to know, because he knows how to get out of any situation”). And speaking of disasters, Robinson’s becoming quite the expert on post-apocalyptic situations — “Escape from Planet Earth” is just one of a trio of doomsday films he has on the horizon. Also on the way — Seth Rogen’s directorial debut “This Is the End” (where he and his buddies wait out the apocalypse at James Franco’s house) and “Raptureapalooza,” in which Robinson is the Antichrist.

“They all couldn’t be more different, but it’s quite interesting that I’m at the center of these three,” Robinson says. “‘Escape’ is the possibility of a planet blowing up, but it’s averted, and ‘This Is the End,’ something bad has just happened, and ‘Raptureapalooza,’ the Antichrist has taken over, so it’s all the different stages. They’re all fun and funny, and that’s what I’m here to do. I’m the apocalypse guy.”

In “This Is The End,” Robinson says, all the actors (who are playing versions of themselves) go “a little crazy,” but he’s the one who, “for the lack of a better word, I’m not as nasty. Some of the other characters are.” Since it’s a large cast, he had a harder time than usual stealing scenes: “There are six people, so you got Jonah Hill, James Franco, and Seth Rogen over here, so anytime it’s time to improv, it’s like, ‘Okay, here we go!’ You have to get in where you fit in. You have to jockey for position. Jonah is not going to stop. Franco is not going to stop. Rogen is not going to stop. And that left [Jay] Baruchel, Danny McBride, and myself, and it was a lot of jockeying.”

One moment he jockeyed for — and might end up on the cutting room floor — is when “they send me out into the madness,” and he sings a silly song, trying their patience. The key to playing himself, Robinson said, was keeping it positive. “He realizes that drinking his urine is not that bad,” Robinson says of this version of himself. “What else could this post-apocalyptic world have to offer that I never would have experienced if everything is normal? Your attitude is going to carry you. Your attitude is your altitude. It’s not really the end of the world — it’s, What do you do now? That’s the big question.”

In both “This Is the End” and “Rapturepalooza,” Robinson says, people are “Raptured up to heaven,” and it’s about the ones who are left behind. The difference is, he says, two years have passed. For one of his first leading roles, Robinson says his take on the Antichrist is to make him “loveable.” “He’s a regular human being, but he knows he’s going to come back as Satan. He wants to die, because he’s power-hungry, but at the same time, he falls in love with Anna Kendrick’s character.” His character sings to her, “to try to seduce her, in my Antichrist way,” he says. “It’s a very inappropriate song, so there are some fun things I get to say to her about touching her booty and she just has to take it because she’s trying to keep her family and friends alive.” Robinson, who just saw Kendrick’s turn in “Pitch Perfect” on the flight to New York the day previous, thinks he could take Kendrick in a riff-off: “She definitely has a better voice, but I could out-last her in songs.”

But if an apocalyptic situation were to actually happen, don’t look to Robinson for any help. Beyond wondering where he would hide, “I would be ass out,” he laughs. “I am not prepared for anything. I think I have one first aid kit in a backpack from a gifting suite or something. Other than that, I would be trying to borrow margarine from other people. ‘Can I get some beans?’ And I wouldn’t even have a can opener or nothing.”

On the horizon for Robinson — if the world doesn’t end before then — is another trip back in time with the “Hot Tub Time Machine” crew. “Looking forward to seeing if that happens,” he grins. “He’s become a successful music producer, but he became successful because he sang the Black Eyed Peas. That’s not fair. So it might touch on some of that. And hopefully if people liked my singing in the first one, they’ll want some more of that. I think we’re going to go back to that, absolutely.”

Bourne

Bourne to Run

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bourne Movies

Catch The Bourne Ultimatum this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

You know his name, as the Super Bowl teaser for the upcoming summer blockbuster Jason Bourne reminded us. In this era of franchise films, that seems to be more than enough to get another entry in the now 15-year-old series greenlit. And gosh darn it if we aren’t into it. Before you catch The Bourne Ultimatum on IFC, here are some surprising facts about the Bourne movies that you may not know. And unlike Jason Bourne, try not to forget them.


10. Matt Damon was a long shot to play Jason Bourne.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Coming off of Good Will Hunting and The Legend of Bagger Vance, early ’00s Matt Damon didn’t exactly scream “ripped killing machine.” In fact, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and even Sylvester Stallone were all offered the part before it fell into the hands of the Boston boy made good. It was his enthusiasm for director Doug Liman’s more frenetic vision that ultimately helped land him the part.


9. Love interest Marie was almost played by Sarah Polley.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon wasn’t the only casting surprise. Franka Potente, of Run Lola Run fame, wasn’t the filmmaker’s first choice for the role or Marie in The Bourne Identity. In fact, Liman wanted his Go star Sarah Polley for the part, but she turned it down in favor of making indie movies back in Canada. A quick rewrite changed the character from American Marie Purcell to European Marie Helena Kreutz, and the rest is movie history.


8. Director Doug Liman was obsessed with the Bourne books.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Liman had long been a fan of the Bourne book series. When Warner Bros.’ rights to the books lapsed in the late ’90s, Liman flew himself to author Robert Ludlum’s Montana home, mere days after earning his pilot’s license. The author was so impressed with his passion for the material, he sold the rights on the spot.


7. Liman’s father actually worked for the NSA.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Part of Liman’s fasciation with the Bourne series was that his own father played the same spy craft games portrayed in the books while working for the NSA. In fact, many of the Treadstone details were taken from his father’s own exploits, and Chris Cooper’s character, Alex Conklin, was based on Oliver Stone, whom Arthur Liman famously cross examined as chief counsel of the Iran-Contra hearings.


6. Tony Gilroy threw the novel’s story out while writing The Bourne Identity.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Despite being based on a hit book, screenwriter Tony Gilroy, coming off of The Devil’s Advocate, had no idea how to adapt it into a movie. He said the book was more concerned with people “running to airports” than character, and would need a complete rewrite. Director Doug Liman agreed, and Gilroy claims to have condensed the original novel into the first five minutes. Getting that out of the way, he then wrote his own story, based on a man who wakes up one day not remembering anything but how to kill.


5. Damon walked like a boxer to get into character.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Damon had never played a character like Bourne before, and was searching for a way to capture his physicality. Doug Liman told him to walk like a boxer to give Jason Bourne an edge. Damon took that to heart, training for six months in boxing, marital arts and firearms.


4. Damon broke an actor’s nose.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon’s training for the films is legendary, but mistakes still happen. While filming a scene for The Bourne Ultimatum, Damon hit actor Tim Griffin so hard, he shattered his nose. Apparently, the space the scene was filmed in was smaller than originally intended, throwing Damon off just enough to exert a real beat down.


3. James Bond visited The Bourne Legacy set.

Eon Productions

Eon Productions

Actor Daniel Craig stopped by the set of The Bourne Legacy to visit his wife, actress Rachel Weisz, who was starring in the movie. While having James Bond on a Bourne set must have been exciting, The Bourne Legacy was the only Bourne movie to not actually feature Jason Bourne, meaning our bets on who would kick whose ass would have to wait for another day.


2. The Bourne Identity was nearly a bomb (in the box office sense).

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

As reshoots began to pile up, and an all-out war between the studio and director Doug Liman spilled into the press, expectations were that The Bourne Identity was going to flop. Matt Damon told GQ that, “the word on Bourne was that it was supposed to be a turkey…It’s very rare that a movie comes out a year late, has four rounds of reshoots, and it’s good.”


1. Matt Damon wasn’t the first actor to play Bourne.

Warner Brothers Television

Warner Brothers Television

Aired on ABC in 1988, the TV movie adaptation of The Bourne Identity, while not exactly critically acclaimed, was a more faithful version of Ludlum’s book. Richard Chamberlain, of The Thorn Birds fame, played a much less ass-kicking spy, while “Charlie’s Angel” Jaclyn Smith played love interest Marie. If you like your Bourne movies heavy with poorly lit ’80s melodrama, this might just be the adaptation for you. Otherwise, you should catch The Bourne Ultimatum when it airs this month on IFC.

It’s Seth Rogen, Danny McBride and James Franco vs. the apocalypse in the “This Is the End” red band trailer

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This might not be the end that the Mayans predicted, but it definitely is the end for some of our favorite celebrities in Hollywood. Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel and Craig Robinson are all facing off against a pretty devastating apocalypse in the new — and long-awaited — trailer for “This Is The End.”

That name not sound familiar to you? The film was formerly called “The Apocalypse,” and before that it was “Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse.” In fact, the whole premise for the project started off as a skit that Rogen and Baruchel released which was a trailer for a film called “Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse.”

Fast-forward to today, and that dream has become a reality. All we need is those men already listed standing in a room together and talking for two hours to call this movie a win, but it looks like “This Is The End” is going to be much more than that. The trailer starts off with a hilarious intro from Rogen and Franco, and then devolves into hilarious madness. Also, we’re going to put this out there right now: If there isn’t a Michael Cera cameo in this film after McBride’s takedown of him, we’re going to cry foul.

When IFC caught up with Rogen at his “Hilarity for Charity” event in January, he revealed that he’s had a lot of fun developing film, which serves as his and partner Evan Goldberg’s directorial debut. As for the cast, he was just excited to bring all of his friends together.

“They’re like the main characters in the movie,” he said. “I’m really excited to work with those guys honestly. I don’t get to see them that often and I think when we’re working together is kind of when you see them the most. On top of making a good movie, I hope I just get to hang out with them also.”

Here’s the original “Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse” skit if you haven’t already seen it:

What do you think of the “This Is The End” trailer? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Fred Armisen Snl Bowie

Fred Remembers Bowie

Watch Fred Armisen’s Heartfelt Tribute to David Bowie

Portlandia returns this Thursday, January 21st at 10P on IFC.

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In life, David Bowie touched the lives of millions with beautiful, soulful performances that flowed from fearless, boundless flare. And since his passing, fellow artists and performers have expressed how instrumental his music, his individuality, and his being was to the development of their art. One of those devotees is Portlandia star Fred Armisen who took to his former Saturday Night Live stage and spoke of how Bowie’s live performances from a 1979 SNL episode have stuck with him since high school.

“Watching him was, for me, a life-changing experience,” Armisen said. “He had these backup singers that were like choir singers from the future and a toy poodle with a TV monitor in his mouth.”

Watch Fred’s heartfelt tribute to the late singer below. For more Fred, check out his Facebook Q&A and watch a free episode from the new season of Portlandia right now on IFC.com or on the IFC app.

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