Robin Williams in London

Originally published in October 2002 | BBC | written by BBC Staff

How was it playing this weird guy, Sy Parrish?
It's nice to play a psycho role! It's been really interesting to play this character. Of course, I couldn't take the character home because it would scare my children. No, you leave these kind of characters on the set or people will notice and say "Please leave now." Sy is this funny little man who nobody takes much notice of and then one day he snaps. You watch him fall apart. It's a very disconcerting and disturbing movie.

What did you learn about yourself?
That we all have a deep loneliness. Either from memories of it or from other times in your life. The thing about photographs, and especially family photographs, is how powerful they are. Our family wasn't a big picture-taking family, but recently I looked through some of the old photos we do have and you can remember a very specific moment in time from the photographs. It's really interesting. Having lost my mother in the past year and my father-in-law too, all of a sudden you're looking at these photographs and they have a different resonance now.

It's simple family photos that Sy sees and which become fuel for his warped mind, isn't it?
Yes. All he sees is the beautiful family, the beautiful child, the kind of America that's been sold to everybody. And he wants to be a part of it. This man is totally isolated. That's why he has this compulsion with photographs, which are his only connection. That's what appealed to me really, the blandness, the awkwardness.

Why did you change the way you look for this role?
Well, it helped me to become Sy. I bleached my hair blond and wore these little wire-framed glasses, and I even wore a pair of tennis shoes that squeaked as I walked. And the physical transformation--it kind of helped to feel the isolation and the loneliness of Sy. And there have been times where my life was just isolated and I drew on that as well.

Wall of Tributes >