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Craig Robinson and Clark Duke Talk About 'Hot Tub Time Machine'

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Clark Duke and Craig Robinson Hot Tub Time Machine

From MGM's 'Hot Tub Time Machine,' Craig Robinson and Clark Duke were in San Diego as the grand marshals in the 2010 Mardi Gras parade.

Photo by Jerod Harris
Craig Robinson and Clark Duke were on the tail-end of a whirlwind tour promoting the MGM comedy Hot Tub Time Machine when they arrived in San Diego, CA, to be Grand Marshals of the city's annual Mardi Gras Parade. In the film Robinson and Duke play two of four buddies (John Cusack and Rob Corddry are the other two) who get into a hot tub together and – surprise! – wind up traveling back in time. Hence the film's title...

The R-rated comedy opens on March 26, 2010, and I hadn't had a chance to actually take in a screening before sitting down with Robinson and Duke to briefly chat up the film before they got down to the business of celebrating Fat Tuesday. The trailer makes Hot Tub Time Machine look like it's strictly for guys, but Robinson and Duke assured me there's something in it for women (hint: John Cusack). And there's apparently something very secretive about the squirrel featured prominently on the film's poster.

Craig Robinson and Clark Duke Hot Tub Time Machine Interview

What's the squirrel have to do with the movie?

Clark Duke: "I don't want to give it away."

Craig Robinson: "The squirrel has a dramatic role in this movie. I don't know how to say it without giving too much away. Let's just say it's not a mistake that the squirrel's on the poster. It's an important part."

How was re-exploring the 1980s in the film?

Craig Robinson: "They show us as our younger selves, as you can see on the poster, and I had that hairstyle."

That's really your hairstyle?

Craig Robinson: "Yes, from the '80s. And some of the music going back and listening, I remember being in high school from '85 to '89. It was exciting, you know? It was very stupid and silly, and seeing all those different colors we used to wear and all that. It's fun."

If there's a time period you could go back to, when would it be?

Craig Robinson: "25 minutes ago. I ate at a soul food joint called Bonnie Jean's Soul Food, and I bit into a piece of catfish that was fantastic."

Clark Duke: "I think I'd go to the '50s. I just really like the clothes."

The music?

Clark Duke: "Not as much, no. I like some of the lyrics...like the Beat writers and stuff like that. It would be interesting. I'd go to the '50s and check everything out, see how happy post-World War II America really was."

You play two of four really good friends in this. Did you do anything to bond before filming began?

Clark Duke: "We had sex."

Was that good?

Craig Robinson: "No! That didn't work."

Clark Duke: "That didn't help."

Craig Robinson: "So then we sat and talked and went bowling. It was like, 'Wow, we could have done that first.'"

Clark Duke: "That would have been a lot easier than having sex."

Craig Robinson: "And way less awkward. We met in the first meetings, and then we went to Vancouver and we had a little time together."

Clark Duke: "When you spend 18 hours a day with three guys every day for three months, everybody can't help but [bond]."

You'll wind up either loving them or hating them.

Craig Robinson: "We had our moments, I'll tell you what."

Are there scenes we'll see on the DVD that push the R-rating even further or did everything make it in?

Clark Duke: "I don't think there's anything for content that was left out, as far as like the rating. I think there's story stuff that got trimmed that you'll see on the DVD. I can't think of anything too extreme that got cut out of the movie."

Craig Robinson: "No."

Clark Duke: "It's all in the movie."

Craig Robinson: "There will be some good extras and stuff."

Clark Duke: "My love interest got cut out."

Craig Robinson: "That was so interesting. Yeah, he had an entire thing."

Clark Duke: "I had a whole other storyline."

Was it cut for time?

Clark Duke: "Yeah. Well, you know, stuff just gets cut. Whole people just get cut out."

But your love interest – that's pretty sad.

Clark Duke: "It didn't really affect the story, in a weird way. It was a little off the beaten path. My role kind of changed in editing to be a little more of propelling the story along."

Did they let you improv a lot on the set?

Clark Duke: "Oh yeah."

What did you throw in that wasn't in there in the first place?

Craig Robinson: "The Michael Jackson joke – the one in the trailer – that was mine. And then looking at the camera and saying, 'It must be some kind of hot tub time machine.'"

Clark Duke: "And your character being a musician."

Craig Robinson: "They came up with that."

Clark Duke: "But they came up on it based on your real experience, once they saw you were good."

What do you play and how do you have time to add that to your TV and movie schedule?

Craig Robinson: "The piano. I use it in my comedy act. I just kind of make it a comedy dance party. I take time off and do what I've got to do. You schedule it and then go away on the weekend sometimes, do a city for two nights and then come back."

What sets Hot Tub Time Machine apart from every other R-rated comedy?

Craig Robinson: "It's such a relief and a release. You really get to go in there and not think, and just be – and just relax and enjoy yourself."

Clark Duke: "There's something cathartic about it. I think it's fun. I think it works on a lot of levels. You get a younger audience in that enjoys this type of comedies. I think there's something nostalgic about it for people that are a little older, with the '80s thing."

Craig Robinson: "And I have to wear a onesie with the feet."

Was it your first onesie as an adult?

Craig Robinson: "Yes."

How did it feel?

Craig Robinson: "It was fantastic. I would suggest you don't put one on and then eat a burrito though. But other than that, it was awesome."

Clark Duke: "The ladies are going to love it. There's a lot of romance in the film."

Craig Robinson: "There's some things going on. There's a lot going on. There's something for everybody."

Given the opportunity in real life to go back in time, via a hot tub time machine, would you take it?

Craig Robinson: "Absolutely I would. I would go back and change some things…a couple of girls I met. I would not meet them, I'd just let them pass by."

Clark Duke: "Can I come back? Is it guaranteed? I don't know. I'm afraid we might mess stuff up. I really like my life right now. I don't have any big changes I want to make. Ask me in 20 years."

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