Originally published in May 2002 | Asian Connections | written by Jim Ferguson

StudioLA's Jim Ferguson interviews Robin Williams for his role as Walter Finch, the mild-mannered crime fiction writer who emerges as a cunningly manipulative murder suspect of a teenage girl in the acclaimed atmospheric, psychological thriller, "Insomnia", directed by Christopher Nolan. Set in a fictional remote Alaskan town, the stellar all-star ensemble cast features Al Pacino, Hilary Swank and Martin Donovan. Cast against type for his "Insomnia" role, the filmmakers looked beyond Williams' comedic talents to his dramatic work in films like "Good Morning Vietnam", "Dead Poets Society", and his Oscar-winning performance in "Good Will Hunting".

You play a suspect in a murder mystery.
Yes, sir. Just a suspect, yes.

Walter Finch.

I believe your character is enjoying this, the games that are going on between Al Pacino's character.
Yes, I think so, yeah.

Having a good time.
A good time. I think that there's kind of, yeah, a bit of that. I mean, it's a defense mechanism and there is a kind of, in the background, this idea of "Wait a minute, I can really work this," and having been a writer and basically writing detective novels, you know, and he's, like he said to Pacino, "I am, I'm a big fan."

You know, and it's also like working and being near the idol and also getting a chance to kind of mess with the whole perception of that. Plus he's got the chops and the ability to kind of look around and hints what he did even to the body of, you know. Take away every major...

From the nails...
So he's very meticulous. Yeah. It's a meticulous thing, rather than a crime, a normal crime of passion where he really goes out of his way to make sure that there's no physical evidence.

I would imagine you had a good time working with Al and doing that.
Oh, yeah. You just try it a few different ways and just... It is, like someone said, it's a bit like a game of Go, where you think you've got him or he thinks he's surrounded you, and it takes just one stone to turn it around. And, you know, it's that idea of initially meeting me, and I think he thinks it's, you know, this is it and then wants to hear what I have, you know, what it is. Because I kind of played off the idea that I, you know, I saw what you did.

(chuckles) Yes.
And then [he] wants to see how much and what are my intentions. And it's back and forth like, you know, his abuse and my going, "What are you being so abusive for? Really, we're in the same boat, and I admire you and we're in the same situation."

Wonderfully done.
Thank you.

But he doesn't log roll as well as you do.
Different. When you live up there, you do that on the weekends, you know. There's a lot of log rolling and so... There's a couple of bars.

(chuckles) Couple of bars?
Yeah, log rolling bars. And they got some women there in spiked shoes.

You know, and these ladies are great, too, because it's way beyond Velcro. And it's an interesting place, full of people that... A friend of mine said, "Looked like a lot of people were in witness protection up there."

You know, "Hey, what are you doin' up here?" "Uh, what's your name?" "What's it to you?"

(laughs) Yeah.
"Okay, sorry. Meanin' to ask you."

Don't miss Insomnia.
Thank you.

Thank you, Robin.
I won't.

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