‘Rules don’t apply to you’: Why Craig Robinson and Marc Maron prefer to play ‘bad guys’

Mr. Shark, voiced by Robinson —PHOTOS COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES INTERNATIONAL

The fast-paced release of DreamWorks Animation’s “The Bad Guys” is off to a great start. Not only has the film won critics — it has a new 86 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes — but it also enjoyed good performances at the US box office this week, replacing “The Secrets of Dumbledore,” the latest installment of JK Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts franchise,” at No. 1.

The film, which hits Philippine theaters today, follows the exploits of a criminal quintet—consisting of Mr. Wolf (voiced by Sam Rockwell), Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson), Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos), Mr. Snake (Marc Maron) and Miss Tarantula (Awkwafina)—who land the right jobs when their members are made to do good deeds for a change.

So good at being bad

For a lawless team that is so good at being evil, an act of kindness feels like it’s against their very nature. But as Governor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) aka Crimson Paw cleverly points out, “Even trash can be recycled into something beautiful.”

Following our recent interview with director-animator Pierre Perifel and some of the cast, we also spoke with Marc Maron (“Respect,” “GLOW” and the upcoming “DC League of Super Pets,” voices Lex Luthor) and Craig Robinson (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “The Office”) for this Inquirer Entertainment exclusive.

Asked if they would rather play the good guys over the bad guys in their project, Marc and Craig said that one definitely required more work than the other.

“I might have had a better time going a little bad,” said Marc. “Playing a really nice guy, which I had to do in a recent film, was fine. But there’s more [challenge] when the character you are playing is disabled. Even if there’s one thing I’ve learned about good or bad people, they all have flaws.”

Marc Maron

Marc Maron

Meanwhile, Craig says that it’s more fun being able to channel someone’s evil side into character. “I prefer to play the bad guy,” he admits. “When you’re mean, it seems like the rules don’t apply to you—and that’s all you need to have fun. I played the anti-Christ in a movie called ‘Rapture-Palooza’, and it was one of the craziest and most liberating things I’ve ever done!”

Our Q&A with Craig and Marc:

Usually, parents tell their children to stay away from people who are considered dangerous or evil. But the story of “The Bad Guys” tells us that we should also get to know them better and give people a second chance. What did you like about the script the first time you read it?

Marc: I immediately fell in love with my character Mr. Snakes. And the more I got into the story, the more I realized that it’s really about friendship, about how we judge others by perception. Also, I love the fact that while it gives me the freedom to be cranky and angry, there’s still a lot of heart in this empathetic character. So there are many reasons that intrigue me.

Plus, the story is great—it has a lot of twists and turns and gets really weird at some points. There were lots of guinea pigs and car chases… I couldn’t even imagine the whole thing until I saw the movie myself, to be honest.

Craig Robinson

Craig Robinson

Craig: I was immediately attracted to him. There’s a great pitch and presentation at DreamWorks. When I saw the character, it made a lot of sense to me. Later, I learned about the film which is based on the book series [by Aaron Blabey]. They told me that Mr Shark, my character, was the master of disguise involved in all this stuff. I just loved it from the start.

The film feels like an animated iteration of “Suicide Squad,” with Catwoman in tow. Were you given special features in creating your character, or were you given freedom?

Marc: They just showed us pictures of the characters… and then there’s the script. In terms of sound and how we use it, it’s mostly trial and error. But they kind of hired me for what I brought there… and that was by improvising and doing things over and over.

The script evolves with the characters once they start to see how I do it — that’s how they make adjustments. Nothing is cut off, except for the animation in question at some point. It’s all very collaborative.

Master Snake, voiced by Maron

Master Snake, voiced by Maron

Craig: Like my character, I’m a gentle giant. That’s how I ride that wave. I got in touch with Mr Shark because of the ridiculous noises they make from me… I have it in me naturally. You go in there not wanting to upset anyone—that’s my kind of life.

Have you ever met an animal whose encounter with you changed your negative perception of it?

Marc: I have animals that I have a love-hate relationship with. I grew up with dogs, but they need me too much.

Over time, I have a cat that always bites me. But I didn’t get rid of it, and it ended up getting a little better (laughs). I owned cats mostly as an adult, but relationships with them can really go well. You see, your cat really doesn’t care about you, so you really have to fight for their affection.

Craig: I was in Australia a few years ago. I went to the animal sanctuary and fell in love with [a] koala bear. I don’t know if you’ve ever held a koala, but you have to! Just imagine yourself holding a strong baby. They have beautiful hands with strong, sharp claws that are quite painful (laughs). You know what I’m talking about?

I want to take the koala home. I know it sounds silly, but I actually sat down and met them. But I don’t have the qualifications to make it happen (laughs) … it’s all true! Therefore, I challenge you to hold a koala bear, and you will know what I mean. INQ

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