Craig Robinson on Playing Mr. Shark in The Bad Guys

Craig Robinson in DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys.

The Bad Guys is an upcoming animated film from DreamWorks Animation and Universal Pictures about criminal animals trying to turn over a new leaf. Leading the pack is Mr. Wolf, a gray wolf voiced by Sam Rockwell. Other members include Marc Maron as Mr. Snake, Anthony Ramos as Mr. Piranha, Awkwafina as Ms. Turantula, and Craig Robinson as Mr. Shark.

Robinson is an actor and comedian known for his roles in This Is the End, Sausage Party, Pineapple Express, and Hot Tub Time Machine. Nerd Reactor chatted with the comedy actor about his role as the sensitive great white shark.

Nerd Reactor: For The Bad Guys, the concept is about being bad, but kind of going good. What was the process like for you when you started off with the character of Mr. Shark? Do you look at concept art? Do you watch Shark films?

Craig Robinson: Look at the concept art for sure. Didn’t watch Shark films. But you go with the writing, and that’s the beauty of doing animation. You jump into it. And then let’s say you don’t find a character right away… once you do find the character, and we’re talking about a few scenes in, they might go, “Whoa, now that you’re doing that, take it back to this.” It’s all about energy. So this is about working with the director, being in there, staying in the moment and finding that character.

Shark (Craig Robinson) in DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys.

Was it mostly you, solo, inside a booth?

Craig Robinson: Solo inside a booth with the director and producer on Zoom. And they got the sound engineer in another booth. Then it went on that way the majority of the time until, finally, we were able to meet up. They’ll still be in a separate room, but then they were just across the glass.

In the process of finding that character, were there any just rejected ideas that you had fond memories of? Like, “I kind of like this.”

Craig Robinson: There is some stuff on the cutting room floor, for sure. But, I think all the good, good funny stuff made it in.

The Bad Guys has other animals in the team. There’s the spider, there’s a wolf. Was there ever a moment where you’re like, “I like this. This shark is my character.” Or maybe, “I want to be like a wolf or piranha.

Craig Robinson: Oh, no, no. Everybody respectively did their thing. Especially Piranha. I love Piranha. He stole the movie for me. But I was born to play the shark. If they sent me the script or said, “Pick out one you want to play?” Yeah, it would have been a shark. The big gentle giant.

Do you have a favorite shark film?

Craig Robinson: Jaws. Sure. Yeah. And we’ll need a bigger boat. [Quoting a line from Jaws.]

Shark has many moments of silliness. Was that a challenge for you on how much silliness to infuse into the character? Or how much of the bad guy side do you want to show off?

Craig Robinson: Well, again, that’s from the directing and the script. As it’s written, we just find different ways to say different things. You’ll be in a booth bringing all this energy, and sometimes you’ve got to run in place, and you’d figure it out. But you can do all this because you’re in the booth. And because you’re not a live-action actor with somebody else, it definitely gives you the freedom to use your whole physicality instead of just your voice.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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