Robin Williams talks about Robots plus a slew of other projects!
A few weeks ago I had the chance to catch up with Robin Williams in LA. The outrageous comic is making a return to the big screen animation for the first time since Aladdin in ROBOTS. In the film he's the voice of a streetwise mechanical man named Fender. Willams talks about the film, doing more animation and yes Mrs. Doubtfire 2. Here is what he had to say:
How important is it to you to deliver the words written for you in the script?
Robin Williams: They say, ‘Well, here are the lines‘. Then I'll go in...and go off. For this, I tried different scams and things because [Fender]'s a street scam artist. You try to get fire for what the character's voice is. First I tried kind of a bowery thing, then I did some homeboy, then some crankpot, then I brought it back and I made it a little ‘off'. Once you've got the base, you go off. With computer animation, you can build on it over time, and add layer after layer. You riff.
My generation grew up with you in Aladdin...
Robin Williams: Oh, yeah! That was the first time I could really riff. It was like standup [comedy] on film...
What brought you back to animation?
Robin Williams: Seeing the design, the world. I play a lot of computer games. I love computer graphics. I've had Pixar in me for a long time. After Aladdin, then we had that falling out with Disney, and then the reconciliation, and then this came along and I caught a wave. I wanted to be part of it.
Do you want to do more of it?
Robin Williams: I'd love to. But you know, you have to pick and choose. You don't
want to do so much of it that kids go, [Kid Character] 'Is this you? Really, I'd like to see a movie without you.'
And you did a lot of darker roles the last couple of years
Robin Williams: Yeah. I got dark, psycho roles. I get nice letters from prison. It's like, [Prison Character] 'Hey, pretty boy.'
What are your favorite computer games?
Robin Williams: HalfLife 2 is pretty great. The scary thing about you when go online is that there's two different schools. One is like Warcraft, where you have these really bright people who go on quests and build up these massive inventories, and create communities. The other is people just going online and shooting the shit out of each other and trash talking. It's kind of interesting to sample both.
Do you go online?
Robin Williams: I play online a lot, yeah. I play with myself. I did. That was before computers. If I'd had a computer I wouldn't be this hairy you fools. If I'd have had a mouse and a hard drive! Jesus Christ I wouldn't have been alone in that room. I'd have had Pamela Anderson and pictures. I wouldn't have had to make up shit! [Laughs]
What about the GOLDEN GLOBE, was that sucking upt to the THE FOREIGN PRESS?
Robin Williams: No sucking up. It's just like I'd known them for twenty seven years and they were like, 'Why did you bring up the Pia Zadora thing?' 'Look, it happened. I know you, you're like my extreme extended European family. We come, we have a nice meal and we talk. Hello.' I've known them for so many years. It's kind of interesting because the Golden Globes are so much looser than the Academy Awards for better or worse. It has an open bar and you'll just see people half way through the awards going, 'This is fucking great.' And the FCC guy is going crazy.
What do you think of Chris Rock hosting the Oscars this year?
Robin Williams: I think it's great. I think it's opening it up. People are always saying when is this going to get interesting? They're doing it. They're bringing it into the 21st century. It's an unpredictable year with him hosting. It's not going to be like, [deep voice] ‘And now, ladies and gentleman, Jack Valenti. Please don't operate heavy machinery.' [Laughs]
Is there any chance you'd ever host the Oscars?
Robin Williams: No. I'm not built for that. I have voluntary Tourette's. I don't want to go up there. It's just too weird of a night for me. I love being backstage, or doing littler things like Blame Canada.
This year there are a lot of people who are nominated for playing real people. Is there someone you'd like to play someday?
Robin Williams: I would love to play Einstein at some point. There's a great script about Freud and Jung which is wonderful.
What's in your future?
Robin Williams: Coming up is a small movie in New York called The Night Listener. I play a writer and he finds out there's a kid who's a fan of his, and they want to meet. It's very convoluted and dark. It's based on actual events.
There's a new Superman movie coming out...how do you feel about that, considering the loss of your good friend Christopher Reeves this year?
Robin Williams: I don't know. I didn't even know they were doing it. I've just been kind of dealing with him dying, kind of feeling this phantom friend pain where you think he's still around. When he got ill, I thought he'd make it. He'd made it through all these other things. His wife was wise enough to know. She told me, ‘You'd better talk to him.' She knew he was starting to have a hard time. So I talked to him a week before he died.
What about the movie 'THE KRAZEES' and 'THE BIG WHITE?'?
Robin Williams: 'The Krazees' hasn't been written. That's based on a children's book. 'The Big White' has been done. It's based on a guy who lives in Alaska and finds a corpse and tries to scam an insurance company.
Is that you?
Robin Williams: Yeah. I'm not the corpse. 'Brother please, don't be a hater. A black comedy with a white man? What is that about?'
You went through sort of a dark period for a few years, where you played a string of evil characters. Was there something going on in your personal life that made you want to be the bad guy?
Robin Williams: No. It's not something like that. I wasn't feeling like, 'Fuck humanity.' It wasn't like that at all. No. I just got offered these parts that I've always wanted to do, but never got offered because studios at the time would say, 'You play nice, warm, cuddly people.' And I'd go, 'Okay.' Then you get offered a guy who seems kind of nice, but not necessarily kind of cuddly and then when they said I could play it creepy, I went 'Thank you.' Then to be in 'Insomnia' was a great double bill for three reasons. One, I wanted to work with Chris Nolan, to be in the room with Pacino, to work with him and get the entire 'Godfather' action set, and then to be able to play a sociopath literally. I got to approach it from that way and you get the kind of stunt casting, and people are like, 'Oh, that's that nice guy.' I remember people saying after they saw the movie, 'He didn't really do it.' They didn't buy that I actually did it. They're almost buying him which is a great thing. Playing those character is great and it's really freeing on that level for any actor to play those characters because you get to explore behavior and do something that you can't do in real life without doing time. Ask Robert Blake.
Do you have trouble shaking that off at the end of the day?
Robin Williams: No. No. I'm not a method man. 'Kids, leave daddy alone.'
Pacino is a method man...
Robin Williams: He is, but he isn't. I mean, he will prepare and he'll be in that thing, but I remember the first day of 'Insomnia.' When I was working he used to do this thing of he would roar like a lion and that was a cue to everyone, 'Don't fuck with Al. Don't fuck with him.' Then I came on the stage and was like, 'Who did that? Hi Mr. Pacino. I'm out of order. I'm definitely out of order. I'm very sorry. I'm out of order. Hoo Ha! I'm out of order.' Then we kind of established a relationship. 'I'm going to be fucking with you. It's my job. I'm going to go, "Hi, Al! How are you? You're a good guy. You're a great guy. You're really good. I've seen you in The Village having a cappuccino. You're a father now. You're a great guy. You're really good. How's Bob?"'
Some of your darker pictures didn't do very well. Now that some time has passed, how do you feel about Death To Smoochy? That's one of my favorites...
Robin Williams: Me, too. The interesting thing is that I just came back, I did another show in Iraq. I had all these guys coming up and saying, ‘That's my favorite movie.' It's not for kids. I love the movie just because it's nasty fun.
Is there any possibility of doing Mrs. Doubtfire 2?
Robin Williams: No, they're trying to write it. A friend of ours is writing it, and so I think if she can do it right, it'll be okay. If they're not going to do it right, it's not worth doing. You have to find a way to do the character, and how do you take it on after so long. Why is she dressing up again? How does she get away with it? The first one was so good was because the concept was pretty good, and the makeup was great.
Would you do a Mork and Mindy reunion?
Robin Williams: No. They haven't done that, and I think that they know better. I
wouldn't do it. I mean, for me it was a great memory and a wonderful time. Pam [Dawber] is the sweetest woman on the planet.
Do you still keep in touch with Pam?
Robin Williams: Oh, yeah. She's wonderful. She was a sweet lady. She looks the same, and I think that's just because she' so sweet. She's had two kids and looks wonderful and is still hot. I'd be on shows with her, but not 'Mork and Mindy.'
Why is it important to you to perform for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Robin Williams: Because it's a great audience, but also you just want to let them know that we haven't forgotten about them. There's still 10,000 people there. You meet hardcore great people. My favorite is when you go to Afghanistan and you meet the special forces guys, and they look like these heavily armed surfers. These guys are the best. You see guys dressed as full Afghans, but then wearing a Yankees hat.
Dont't forget to also check out: Robots