Exclusive Interview With Robin Williams

Originally published and transcribed on November 23, 2009 | Hollywood.com | written by Thomas Leupp

From the director of Wild Hogs comes the wacky family comedy Old Dogs, starring legendary funnyman Robin Williams as an uptight divorcee whose life is torn hilariously asunder when he's tasked with the care of seven-year-old twins.

Last week we sat down with Williams, whose De Niro-esque commitment to his role involved getting his preternaturally hairy chest waxed in the service of a drunken tattoo gag. Even now, after decades in the limelight, he still suffers for his craft.

See what Hollywood's funniest Bear has to say about his latest movie, Old Dogs:

There's a pivotal sequence in this film where you get a unfortunate tattoo on your chest...
Yes. Have I done that in real life?

Well, I was wondering if that's the first time you've had to shave your chest for a role.
I've shaved my... I've actually... one time I had to shave for a movie and I had two girls waxing my chest. After about an hour or two they said, "Do you mind if we take a break?"

Well, as a fellow hairy-chested man, you've always been an inspiration.
Yeah, when you have this thing that looks like a small dickey coming out here, [mimes chest hair spilling out at throat] like that weird kind of... people go, like, "We have to shave that." [hair speaks] "Maybe you're right." (giggles) It's like it's scary.

You've been able to transition really easily between mainstream releases and also sort of indie films.
It's been nice to have both. It's good to have, like, something like World's Greatest Dad and have something like this, which is totally the opposite. For me, it's kind of... the good news is to do something with a friend like Bob and just to have... totally kind of off the radar so you're free to kind of just try something really unusual, and then do something like this which is mainstream, but still fun, and working with people where you go, "It's a good time." That's kind of a gift, where you can have passports for both.

Do you have a conscious sort of "one for them, one for me" role?
No. It isn't like that. They just come. That's like, whichever comes first, it isn't like, "OK, you've done one independent, now you must do a major production. Call now." It's more like they happen that way. Then they were released--this movie was made two years ago, and they held it for 'til now, so it's not like, "OK, now I'd better put out an independent." No, they just come along, and you go, "This is a good movie."

You get to play sort of a straight man in this.
Totally, which is cool. It's the idea of being this more, the more kind of anal, fearful--he's the alpha and I'm the beta, like "Sure, OK." And he's the one always pushing me to do the crazy stuff. It's a bit like... and then when he takes me and we get loaded in Miami, I wouldn't have done that normally without him going [John Travolta voice] "C'mon. C'mon, ya puss. Do it. Kick it out." And you know, having done the research in terms of being that loaded, I went [drunk] "OK!" (chuckles) Yeah, what did--did you get a tattoo? "Yeah!"

Are you normally the one exerting the peer pressure?
No, actually I'm the quieter one. I'm--I'm literally--among friends I'll be the one going "Are you sure?" You know, when I was drinking, not so much. I was the one going, [goofy drunk] "Let's do this! Where are we going? That should be fun! Valentine's Eve, a strip club... YES! Maybe not the greatest choice, but let's TRY this!" You know, that's kind of the idea of... you know. No, though, among friends I'm the quieter one.

And what do you have coming up next?
The voice of a couple of penguins in Happy Feet 2. There's a couple of other things that haven't come together yet, so I never talk about them 'til they actually do. So that's the only definite, so that's it, pretty much. But that'll be cool, 'cause I get to go down and work with George Miller in [Aussie accent] Austrahlia. Sweet man, and just do penguins again for like two weeks.

Old Dogs opens Wednesday, November 25, 2009.

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