In the future with Robin Williams

Originally published on April 11, 2005 | | written by Edward Douglas

Although it may seem like Robin Williams has been relatively quiet since 2003 when he appeared in three movies--he starred in the low-key indie thriller The Final Cut last fall--he's back with a vengeance doing a lot of different types of roles, including his long awaited return to comedy. Besides providing a primary voice for Fox's hit animated comedy Robots, Williams stirred up controversy at this year's Oscar ceremony by having his planned song scrapped by the censors at the last minute.

A few years ago, Williams starred in David Duchovny's directorial debut House of D which is finally getting released this coming Friday. Set in New York's Greenwich Village during the '70s, Williams plays a mentally challenged man named Pappass who befriends a troubled teen, played by Anton Yelchin (Hearts in Atlantis).

Returning to New York City to promote the movie, Williams talked to about his recent career choices as well as his upcoming projects.

Although he has started to do comedies again, Williams had been doing a lot more dramas in the last few years. We asked him why this was the case. "Because it's the only thing that has come through that's been good," Williams told us. "If they send something that is funny I would love to do that. Now, the next one is called RV with Barry Sonnenfeld. That's a comedy. And there's this one called Parent Wars about the desperate things that people will do to get their kids into Pre-K. The sh*t that people have done in terms of trying to get their kids into day care, I mean, Pre-K... not even K! Literally, people analyzing how a kid plays with his blocks. 'Your son is a little aggressive with the letters. I didn't find a psycho-sexual moment, although he keeps erecting things.'"

There have been murmurings of a sequel to Williams' biggest hit Mrs. Doubtfire, so we asked him from where these rumors may be coming and if he'd be interested in doing it. "It's been coming from the studio somewhere, I think," he answered. "If it's good, I'll do it. If it isn't, then it's not worth doing." Of course, few could imagine a sequel to Williams' biggest hit without Williams in it, but he disagreed. "They could, but there would be another guy in drag," he joked. "'Mrs. Dontshoot.' I don't know. They keep talking about doing a Birdcage 2, too. They did 3 or 4 "Cage Aux Folles" and two of them were good, and one was really strange. If they write a good one, it would be great. But there's no financial pressure to put that one out right now."

Williams also told us about some of his other upcoming projects. "I have a movie called The Big White which was done in Alaska. That's wrapped and I don't know when that comes out. It's basically about a guy who has a Caribbean travel agency in a small town in Alaska; business isn't good, so he tries to defraud an insurance company. His brother has been missing for four years and he finds a body, kind of happens upon it, and then takes it out in the woods to let the animals maul it, then plants enough I.D. on it so that the insurance company think it's his brother. It's his scam to try to pull one over, but everything screws up."

"There's a computer animated movie that I did with George Miller called Happy Feet about penguins," he continued. "I play about five or six characters in that. Down now to five because one of them sounded too similar. Then, there's this movie called The Night Listener I'm shooting right now, based on a New Yorker piece and then a book that Armistead Maupin wrote, but that's pretty much it for a while."

We wondered about Williams' decision to do a lot more independent projects in recent years. "Age makes you more confident," he responded. "When you realize that it's time now to just do things. When there's not the pressure to perform on some level of expectations, there's more to just explore. There's no expectation on that level, because you're kind of working outside the radar. When you're doing big blockbuster movies, you're on the radar constantly. This way you're outside and you can come in."

Despite having his song cancelled by the censors, Williams was still a hit at the last Oscars ceremony, but he said that he'd never want to host. "I'm their worst nightmare. They literally had me one year on a seven-second delay," he remembered. "The one year I was just presenting and Gregory Peck said (doing a Gregory Peck impression), "You're not going to grab your p*nis. I hope you don't. It's a big night." There are people who can do it and obviously do it wonderfully, but it's a tough gig. The people who've done it start preparing three months in advance. It's a whole other game to host it, because after the first ten minutes, people get pissed. The number of losers dramatically increases, and they do have an open bar, unlike the Golden Globes. They have offered, but no, I would never host. Wrong person."

In the meantime, House of D, directed by David Duchovny, opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday and elsewhere, later in April. (We'll have more with Williams, Duchovny and the cast later this week.) Happy Feet will open on November 17, just in time for Thanksgiving.

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