Robin McLaurin Williams was an American actor, comedian, and filmmaker. Starting as a stand-up comedian in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, he is credited with leading San Francisco's comedy renaissance. After rising to fame as Mork in the TV series Mork & Mindy, Williams went on to establish a career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting. His film career included acclaimed work such as Popeye, The World According to Garp, Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, The Fisher King, and Good Will Hunting, as well as financial successes such as Hook, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, The Birdcage, Night at the Museum, and Happy Feet. He appeared in the music video for Bobby McFerrin's song "Don't Worry, Be Happy". Williams was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three times and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as therapist Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. He received two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five Grammy Awards.
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Hello reddit. Welcome! Nice to be here.
I am ready now for your questions. First time caller? Yes or no.
What are you wearing?
No, but seriously, I am excited to be here and exploring this medium (Victoria from reddit is helping me too). I feel like somewhat like an Amish tech rep. You guys know me and grew up with me... from Mork & Mindy to Dead Poets Society to World's Greatest Dad to Aladdin, Happy Feet, Mrs. Doubtfire, Goodwill Hunting, One Hour Photo (for those that want to be creeped out), The Fisher King...My latest project is called The Crazy Ones (http://www.cbs.com/shows/the-crazy-ones) and it airs tomorrow at 9 PM eastern on CBS.
Ask me anything. Our lines are open.
proof part one
proof part dos
Edit: Thank you for an INCREDIBLE session. This was really a lot of fun. And saved me a lot of therapy time. I hope to come back.
Who is your favorite celebrity to impersonate?
What celebrity does an impersonation of you that you enjoy?
Oh my god, Jack Nicholson. He once was with me at a benefit and leaned over and said "even oysters have enemies." In a very intense voice. I responded with "Increase your dosage."
Dana Carvey does my personal favorite impression of myself. It's accurate. And kind.
Self-proclaimed number one fan of Robin Williams' glorious beard here! :)
Two questions for you Mr. Williams,
In what kind of comedies do you prefer to star in, the ones that are directed to audience of all ages (like Jumanji or Mrs. Doubtfire), or those with darker and more mature type of humor (at the example, like in World's Greatest Dad)?
I heard you're a fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion! Are there any other anime series that you enjoy?
For question one: If I could be greedy I would say both! To explore all aspects of comedy is part of the job.
For question two: Oh god, Ghost in the Shell. Akira. Blood: The Last Vampire. But mostly Ghost in the Shell.
Mr. Williams - you asked us what we are wearing. I'm wearing a seductive A&W T-shirt with blue jeans. Drizzled with sexy coffee I accidentally spilled.
My question - what are YOU wearing?
My god! I have on nothing but Google Glass! And I'm downloading as we speak.
Robin, was it hard not to laugh at Hank Azaria during the making of "The Birdcage"?
OH, it was really hard. His voice, that character, Agador Spartacus. It wasn't just me that had a hard time. Mike Nichols would laugh so hard they would have to put a blanket over his head. The other guy who was so funny was Gene Hackman. His speech about the leaves in New England was one of the funniest, driest pieces of comedy I'd ever seen.
According to IMDb, you would frequently call Steven Spielberg during the filming of Schindler's List to cheer him up. How did this arrangement begin? What was a typical conversation like?
I think I only called him once, maybe twice. I called him when I was representing People for the Valdheimers Association. A society devoted to helping raise money to help older Germans who had forgotten everything before 1945. I remember him laughing and going "thank you."
Will you appear again on Whose Line? Because when I first saw you there, my mind was blown, one of my favorite comedians on my favorite tv show.
There's another show (it's like a version of Whose Line?) called Set List. It's on Nerdist, you should check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6ZrNS_HwOQ
On a scale of 1-10, how scared are you when you're around Nicholson?
It's more fascinated than scared. He says things that even Buddha goes "...what did that mean?"
If you were trapped inside Jumanji again and could only bring three items with you which three items would you bring?
A machete. Flamethrower! And a nightlight (oh, that's right, I was ten, so maybe I should lose the flamethrower and exchange that for a Ronson lighter).
Thank you for making that transition. When I did that show dressed as cheerleader in the Denver Bronco mile high stadium, I realized that the end of our TV show was in sight.
Mr. Williams, I have two questions.
first: Is it true that celebrities receive power from fans the same way that Greek gods did? i.e. are you Zeus?
second: What was the craziest/funniest encounter you've had with a fan?
I've just grown one inch because of this comment! BLESS YOU! I'm opening a door with my eyes right now!
(no but it's not true, I'm not an emotional vampire, but I have to say that laughter does give you a brief neuron pump that helps. Or a nice serotonin fix).
A woman in the Dallas airport came up to me and literally said "Be zany."
Like she had walked up to Baryshnikov and said "dance."
I didn't know how to respond. I just went "thank you! And Lincoln freed everyone."
Holy shit. I really hope you can pull some strings to make this a TV series of some kind. Imagine Robin Williams as Hari Seldon.
edit: Rest in Peace Mr Williams. :( O Captain my captain...
Oh my god, that's a great reference! Thank you for that shoutout. He is one of the great characters of science fiction.
Hello Mr. Williams, I just wanted to say congratulations on being a recovered alcoholic. You keep strong my man. I wanted to ask, would you change how things turned out with your alcoholism? Or did your experiences from that shape how you are now?
They definitely shaped how I am now. They really made me deeply appreciate human contact. And the value of friends and family, how precious that is.
Hello Mr. Williams! I wanted to say that you are definitely one of my favorite actors! I really enjoyed Patch Adams, you were really good.
Anyways, for my question I'll ask: What is your favorite book/book series?
Oh my god, Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy. It's one of the greatest books of all time, and the greatest character is The Mule.
And now we know that Robin Williams really does do the voice thing pretty much all the time. Now I don't feel dumb for imagining him breaking into voices in his daily life.
Every once in a while, I'll do it! But it's not like Cybil.
Is there a dialect/accent that's the most challenging for you to do? Are there any you've just never been able to do?
Yes. The Irish accent transitions into two or three others. It slips into Welsh, Scottish, and then it just starts to break down.
Me and my sister watch Mrs. Doubtfire almost on a regular basis. ("I AM JOB.") Anyway, is there a funny/fond story you could share about working on the set of that movie?
Yes. One time in makeup as Mrs. Doubtfire, I walked into a sex shop in San Francisco and tried to buy a double-headed dildo. Just because. Why not? And the guy was about to sell it to me until he realized it was me - Robin Williams - not an older Scottish woman coming in to look for a very large dildo and a jar of lube. He just laughed and said "what are you doing here" and I left. Did I make the purchase? No. * Did I walk away with a really good story? Yes.*
That analogy is an epiphany to me...
What does "epiphany" mean?
My favorite movie of yours would probably have to be One Hour Photo. What was it like playing that role, especially the brutal bloody eye scene?
That was so surreal because it was a bit like a bad drug flashback. And the joy about doing that movie was creating a character that lived vicariously through other people's lives. And now we have networks that do that.
p.s. If its true that you really named your daughter Zelda from the game series you are a pretty cool guy.
It wasn't actually me, it was my son Zachary who came up with the idea. But once Marsha and I heard it, we said it was great.
What is something you've gotten into and gotten excited about lately?
My wife's art. To realizing that painting is a full-contact art form. She came out of her art studio all day and I thought she had been attacked because she was covered in red, but it was just paint, and she had this great stunned expression, almost post-orgasmic. The painting was exquisite, a very dramatic landscape. And I realized that she had the same type of emotional response as I do when I perform.
Mr. Williams the Warhammer forums have a bunch of stories about you sharing our love of table top wargamming (toy soldiers with rules.) Any truth? I'd love to hear you're a fellow game geek.
I have several Warhammer armies. But I have never actually played the game. Specifically, Warhammer 40K.
Can you come to Canada so I can hug you? I love you for naming your daughter Zelda
I will be there as soon as I can! You have to give me a more specific location, you are a big country. You are the kindest country in the world. You are like a really nice apartment over a meth lab.
And thank you. My other son, Mario, sends his greetings.
Oh captain, my captain!
(Can't you believe that movie is 25 years old now?)
I realize that you have done both drama and comedy films over the years. Which do you have a preference in?
Btw: I'd just like to say, despite the poor reviews received, I still think Patch Adams was one of your most heartwarming performances.
It's hard to pick, it's like saying pick your favorite child, I can't. I like doing both comedies and dramas, so it's very difficult to say which one I prefer. I've been very blessed to have had the chance to explore such a variety of characters. And thanks for the Patch Adams shout out! Anytime compassion can be contagious, it's a good thing.
Mr. Williams, I have to two things to share with you. The first is that your work especially in Aladdin will always be a source of inspiration to me and is one of the main reasons I want to be a voice actor/performer. The second is that when your episode of Inside the Actor's Studio first aired my brother, mother and I were outside in sideways rain boarding up the house for a hurricane while my father was in the hospital. I have always wanted to tell you how watching that show laughing until our cheeks and abs were sore was a gift. We continue to watch it almost as much as Aladdin. Thank you.
Do you have any advice for aspiring actors?!! PLEASE?
Just please make sure that you really love doing it. Because that will get you through the hard times. And the good times.
Hello! As to your question, I'm wearing a dress. I went all rebel with it and abandoned the idea of tights or pantyhose.
I wept like an emotionally disturbed infant when I watched "What Dreams May Come." What was the most valuable thing you learned about your acting from that movie/what criticism stuck with you the most afterwards?
Can't wait to catch your CBS show, looks hilarious. Cheers!
You go girl!
That every moment in life is precious? That the gifts of your relationships with others, don't miss it. That was one of the hardest movies I think I ever did in my whole career. Every day was literally hell, because of the nature of the subject matter, dealing with death and being in hell literally. When I watched the final movie, I felt it was extraordinarily beautiful but I felt disappointed by the ending. There was a different ending that they shot that I felt was much more true to the story. It was about reincarnation, basically, that they were going to meet again. The movie ended with two babies being born simultaneously, one in Bombay and one in the United States, and they held them up, and then the screen went to black. I don't know if it's anywhere.
Thank you so much.
What is your favorite book? What were your favorite things to do as a child? And what still gives you a sense of wonder?
My children give me a great sense of wonder. Just to see them develop into these extraordinary human beings. And a favorite book as a child? Growing up, it was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - I would read the whole C.S. Lewis series out loud to my kids. I was once reading to Zelda, and she said "don't do any voices. Just read it as yourself." So I did, I just read it straight, and she said "that's better."
Now we have networks that develop photos that never disappear, ever.
Right! I mean, if One Hour Photo took place now, he would almost be overwhelmed by the content. The change in 10 years is phenomenal.
Whould you play a game like Jumanji in real life? I really loved that movie!
Yes, I would I think. Because the idea of a survival adventure on that level, with more solving problems versus run and gun, it would exciting.
First off, I’ve been a fan of yours for years and I love you and for my question:
As a fellow gamer, what do you think is the best Legend of Zelda game of all time? I personally choose Ocarina of Time.
And if you have time for a second question, what kind of music and bands does Robin Williams like?
I agree, totally. Ocarina of Time is the best.
To be honest, I'm kind of challenged in terms of new music. I listen to a lot of Jazz, specifically Keith Jarrett piano solos. And for me, if you want just wonderful ballads and love songs, Tom Waits. I might also have to throw in Radiohead, but I can't quote specific lyrics. AND PRINCE! For those special nights.
About 12 years ago or so, you donated to a charity called Happy Feet that my fiancee started as a child for other children who couldn't afford to buy shoes. I think she's a rockstar for all the work she did and thought it was great how you took some time out of your day to help support a kid's ambitious charity operation and gave her a phone call, too.
Thanks for being a cool dude! And thanks for all the laughs, of course!
My favorite bit I have seen you do is the one on Golf... where did you get the inspiration for that piece? Do you play at all?
From a drunken Scottish friend. I think his idea was "What the fuck is that sport" and I just took it from there. I don't play. I was once at a driving range with my son, I hit 2 balls, and he said "Dad, that's enough."
I love your work and Mrs. Doubtfire is one of my favourite movies.
What was it like working with Robert de Niro in "Awakenings"?
You were friends with Christopher Reeve. What is your best memory of him?
He is SO good, and such a method actor, that Oliver Sachs wanted to hook him up to an EEG to see if he actually duplicated the brainwaves of the actual patients. No joke.
Him being such a great friend to me at Juillard, literally feeding me because I don't think I literally had money for food or my student loan hadn't come in yet, and he would share his food with me. And then later after the accident, just seeing him beaming and just, seeing what he meant to so many people.
One more thing, what is the exact color shade of your eyes? Did you ever watch it really close in the mirror and found out?
I don't check my eyes out that often. Now you're creeping me out.
Wait, if I had to pick a color I would have to say Adriatic Sea Blue.
Speaking of development of technology, how's the cow valve holding up?
That cow valve is holding up really well! I graze in the afternoons.
What was it like working with Jonathan Winters? I remember him being one of my father's favorite comedians and you were mine so we kind of bonded over Mork & Mindy in a slightly bizarre way.
It was a joy. I believe i said in the Academy Awards it was like dancing with Fred Astaire but it was even better than that, because being around him, he would perform for anybody. There was no audience too small. I think I once saw him do a cat for a beagle.
And I had the same experience watching the Tonight Show with my dad. Watching and laughing at Jonathan with my dad helped us become closer, very much so. My favorite Jonathan Winters one liner is "Have you ever undressed in front of a dog?"
Hi I want to say thank you for your awsome movies and second i want to ask you this:
How did you start watching anime if you would be willing to be Gendou Ikari if someone ever makes an Evangelion live accion movie? (Sorry for my bad english xd)
No, if they ever make Ghost In the Shell I forget the name of the old man character but that would be a wonderful part to play.
How I got started? There was a shop in San Francisco that sold laserdisks - that's how far back it goes - and then later on I found a wonderful bookstore in San Francisco called Green Apple that would sell DVDS of Anime shows.
Have you played
No! I haven't. I'm still waiting for the next Call of Duty. It's been very unusual for me because I've done trips overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan, and I would see guys who had just come back from patrol playing Call of Duty, and I would say "you're living this stuff! And yet you're still playing this game..."
God I hope I end up playing a call of duty match with you.
I don't usually play online, because getting my ass kicked by an 11 year old is very humbling!
Welcome to reddit Mr. Williams.
What was your fav role that you played, and what is your dream role you wish you had played?
I think playing Oliver Sachs in Awakenings was a gift because I got to meet him, and got to explore the human brain from the inside out. Because Oliver writes about human behavior subjectively and that for me was the beginning of a fascination with human behavior.
Dream role - the Fool in King Lear?
Robin, When 'Aladdin' was made they made the Genie just for you, how did it feel that they didn't even think of any other actor to voice the greatest Genie in the world?
I don't know - initially they came in and I was just doing the scripted lines and I asked "Do you mind if I try something?" and then 18 hours of recording later, they had the genie. I just started playing, and they said "just go with it, go with it, go with it." So I improvised the character. I think that in the end, there were something like 40 different voices that I did for that role.
What made you want to come back to television?
David E. Kelley.