The A.V. Club interviews The Office’s Craig Robinson.
AVC: Was Darryl originally conceived as a regular Office character?
CR: I think he originally was supposed to be on the sidelines. They created the character, so I don’t know what their thoughts were. They definitely created the character for me. After about three years, they made me a regular.
AVC: How did you feel about Darryl breaking up with Kelly?
CR: I was like, “What’s next for Darryl if he isn’t dating Kelly?” I’m fine with it, though, because these writers always have something up their sleeves. I never know what the story is going to be until I’m at the table read. I’m always looking forward to what’s next.
AVC: At the same time, having you date Kelly was a way to get more screen time.
CR: Like I said, I’m happy with what’s going on over there. They always give me a chance to shine. I can get out there and score 40 points, or score five or 10, so I’m cool with it.
AVC: One of the best moments from this season was a long shot of your character walking to his car after Kelly dumped him. What kind of direction were you given on that scene?
CR: Randall Einhorn, the director, was like, “You walk out and you can smell the flowers. You can taste the air — it’s so fresh.” We shot it several different ways. One was the way you saw, and another was me busting out the door like a kid who just got out of school for the summer. My arms were up and I’m screaming. We kept with the subtlety, though, and I loved the way it played.
AVC: How much input do you have into the character?
CR: Once we are filming, we have some leeway to play around, but I just go with what the writers are going with, and play it out.
AVC: One of my favorite scenes is when Darryl is talking to Michael Scott about the fluffy fingers that all the gangs do. Is it difficult not to laugh when you are doing an incredibly ridiculous scene like that?
CR: Yes. You have to stop and start again every once in a while. That’s the beauty of working with Steve Carell, because it makes you a better actor, especially in those scenes. You are like, “I’m just going to hold it. I’m just going to hold it.” Sometimes you can make it through entire takes.
AVC: One of the running gags of The Office is Darryl teaching Michael Scott about black culture, which he’s woefully ignorant about. Where do you think Michael Scott gets his ideas about black culture before he seeks out Darryl?
CR: I think he just watches television and movies and assumes everything from there.
AVC: Do you think Michael Scott looks up to Darryl like he’s the cool kid he wants to impress?
CR: Oh, absolutely. Michael idolized Darryl in so many ways.
AVC: Do you think Darryl has some level of affection for him?
CR: Darryl treats Mike with kid gloves. He knows he doesn’t mean harm, but it’s like, “Yo, you go too far each and every time.” He tries to keep the kid gloves on him, but at the same time, he has to exercise patience.