Dolemite Is My Name marks Eddie Murphy’s return to R-rated comedies after two decades, but it’s also a comedic showcase for the actors playing Rudy Ray Moore’s contemporaries. Craig Robinson and Mike Epps shared some of their off-screen musical moments with Screen Rant, as well as all the fun they had on set.
First of all, guys, amazing job. This movie so inspirational; it's fucking great. I loved it. But I gotta ask, Eddie Murphy hasn't done a rated-R comedy in 20 years. What's it like sharing the screen with him for his first arrival back in a rated-R film?
Craig Robinson: Couldn’t have dreamt it. It's an honor. We had incredible fun on set; Eddie’s very much a star; a mega-star. But after he's out [in his] trailer, and we’re on set and chilling, he's regaling us with stories and making us laugh. It was amazing. It’s amazing, man. Just being on there was all fun, love, silliness, and respect.
Mike says it’s like a…
Mike Epps: Barbeque.
Craig Robinson: A big-ass barbeque. Going to a cookout every day.
I love it. This role is perfect for you; it plays to your comedy and musical skills. Can you talk to me about the collaboration process of bringing the character to life?
Craig Robinson: Craig Brewer would assign me a song. It was these challenges; he'd be like, “Do you know this song?” “Nope.” “Well, you’re singing it tomorrow.” It’s like, “What?!”
So, it was these challenges to get in there. But he paired me with James Fauntleroy, who's a super producer. And it gave me the confidence to go ahead and just knock it out. And it was a blast, you know?
I just wanted to honor Ben Taylor. And I think it says a lot about who Dolemite was that he could have his crew – he got the singer singing the soundtrack and then also being a craft service guy. His crew loved him, and he loved his people.
Mike, you play Jimmy Lynch, which was one of Moore’s great friends. Can you talk to me about how he influenced Moore in the path he went down?
Mike Epps: I think Jimmy Lynch was one of them real guys that Dolemite hung around. At the same time that he was supporting Dolemite, he was trying to get his shit off, too. But it made perfect sense for what Dolemite was doing, because Jimmy Lynch was a real dude, you know? He's probably one of the dudes that told Dolemite, “Fuck you, man.” You know, whatever.
But Dolemite had a crew of guys with him, a crew of people with him, that all made sense to what he was doing.
Much like Harlem Nights, this is a special movie, especially for black comedians in this era. What stands out to you the most while making this film?
Mike Epps: I think that the education of it stands out; the fact that people are going to go see this film and learn so many things about comedy, about film, about that era. I think it’s an educational piece.
We live in a new era where it's almost like the wild wild west of the digital age, with YouTube, and everybody can get their stuff kind of out there. What Moore did, is he hustled. Do you see that kind of hustle and work ethic in this culture nowadays?
Craig Robinson: With those YouTube stars, and internet casts, there is a lot of hustle. Because they're doing these 60 second videos, especially when [Vines was] out. So, there's a lot of hustle. I see a lot of content, and people post content all the time.
But his was so different, because he had so many obstacles and hurdles to get over, just to get it done. He had to get the crew to believe in him; they had to believe in each other.
To your previous question, that’s one of the things that stood out to me – believing in yourself above all, no matter what. And then what he did for Lady Reed, he believed in her when she didn't even believe in herself. He brought her out, and before she knew it, she's on a movie screen. She'd never [dreamt it]. That's one of the most heart wrenching parts of the movie.
One of the scenes that jumped out to me was the diner scene that you guys are in. When the cameras stopped rolling, what are some of the more memorable scenes for you guys?
Mike Epps: You know, the trailer was definitely a fun place to have a great time. I remember Wesley Snipes coming to the trailer, crypt walking, and they had music going.
Craig and Eddie were the musicians on the set.
Craig Robinson: Eddie brought a guitar to set, and he's waiting, just [strumming].
Mike Epps: And [Craig] jumped on a piano, because we all know he gets down. Man, they sound like a real band. Like they ought to do a song together.
- Dolemite Is My Name (2019) release date: Oct 25, 2019