Re­turn of a leg­end

He’s 62, back on the box, loved up and hav­ing the time of his life, Robin Wil­liams tells Michele Manelis

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

WHEN Robin Wil­liams burst onto our screens in 1978 as the ir­re­press­ible alien in Mork & Mindy, it was un­likely he’d segue into an il­lus­tri­ous movie star ca­reer. But star­ring roles in the hits Good Morn­ing, Viet­nam, in 1987, and The Fisher King, in 1991, earned him two Os­car nom­i­na­tions, and in 1997 he walked away with the Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tor award for Good Will Hunt­ing.

Now, more than three decades later, Wil­liams joins the ever- in­creas­ing trend of A- lis­ters flock­ing to the small screen ( most re­cently, Halle Berry in the up­com­ing Ex­tant and Matthew McConaughey’s True De­tec­tive).

“Yes, it’s been 32 years. I don’t re­mem­ber much of those days; I was pretty much on ev­ery­thing but skates,” he jokes, re­fer­ring to his ad­dic­tion to co­caine in the ’ 80s.

“Back then, there were three tele­vi­sion net­works and wired meant some­thing to­tally dif­fer­ent.”

The swing to con­tem­po­rary tele­vi­sion also brings the re­turn of other TV vet­er­ans, no­tably, Michael J. Fox. Says Wil­liams, “It’s great. There’s room for old, there’s room for new.”

Th­ese days, the 62- year- old ac­tor is in good spir­its and ex­cited about this new stage in his ca­reer.

The Crazy Ones is cre­ated by David E. Kel­ley ( L. A. Law, The Prac­tice, Ally McBeal) about a ge­nius ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive who works with his tightly wound daugh­ter, played by Sarah Michelle Gel­lar ( Buffy the Vam­pire Slayer, Ringer).

Wil­liams shares some sim­i­lar­i­ties with his char­ac­ter.

“He’s a guy who’s led an in­ter­est­ing life; mul­ti­ple mar­riages and re­hab. I have done the re­search,” he smiles.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing to see the par­al­lels in terms of his life. He’s try­ing to be an ideas man in a time when ideas are so change­able.

“He’s try­ing to stay rel­e­vant and that’s the real strug­gle.”

Al­though Wil­liams con­tin­ues to per­form stand- up com­edy, as well as ap­pear­ing in sev­eral up­com­ing movies such as The But­ler,

The An­gri­est Man in Brook­lyn and Boule­vard, the idea of a reg­u­lar job ap­pealed to him. I’m look­ing for­ward to the rhythm of a daily gig. It’s com­fort­ing in some ways, but hard work.”

The rig­or­ous sched­ule a TV se­ries is a lot of pres­sure both phys­i­cally and men­tally for any ac­tor, but in par­tic­u­lar for Wil­liams, who still main­tains his trade­mark manic high en­ergy.

Cur­rently in good health, in 2009 he was hos­pi­talised for heart prob­lems and un­der­went surgery to re­place an aor­tic valve. He dead­pans, “I’m fine. I have a cow valve so I can crap stand­ing up now.

“My heart is in good shape. They don’t work me so hard that I’m wor­ried about my health. This isn’t an ac­tion se­ries; I’m not climb­ing build­ings.”

Un­like his Mork days which re­quired much im­pro­vi­sa­tion, he says, “The good news is the writ­ing is re­ally good on the show and there’s not a need to try to pump it up.

“And as far as pres­sure, I don’t have to write the show, and there’s a great backup with Sarah Michelle Gel­lar and Haymish Lin­klater ( The New Adventures of Old Chris­tine). It’s a re­ally good cast.”

The show pre­miered in the US to largely pos­i­tive re­views.

“In a cou­ple of weeks we’ll find out if we’re picked up. Right now, it’s just: do the show and see what hap­pens; so far so good.”

Con­trary to re­cent re­ports cit­ing his new­found en­thu­si­asm for sta­ble em­ploy­ment co­in­cides with al­leged fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions to his ex- wives, he says, “No, that’s not true. I don’t have to work, and I’m do­ing fine fi­nan­cially, thanks.”

Since Oc­to­ber 2011, Wil­liams has been mar­ried to his third wife, Su­san Sch­nei­der, with whom he lives in his home­town of San Fran­cisco. She fol­lows ex- wife Mar­sha Garces ( from 1989 to 2008), with whom he fell in love dur­ing his first mar­riage to Valerie Ve­lardi ( from 1978 to 1988) while she was em­ployed as nanny to their son, Zachary, now 30. Wil­liams has two other chil­dren: Zelda, 24, and Cody, 22, from his mar­riage to Garces.

His face lights up when speak­ing of Sch­nei­der.

“She’s amaz­ing. She’s an artist and just had a show of her paint­ings and I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate her on that level.”

He pauses. “She’s my friend, she’s my lover, she’s also a great ad­viser.

“This is a re­ally good time in my life; a won­der­ful, won­der­ful time.

“I’m 62. I’m not try­ing to look younger; I’m not try­ing to be younger. It’s a re­ally good time to be me.”

THE CRAZY ONES Tonight, 8pm, FOX8 ( Foxtel)

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