Rehab, marriage break-ups no stretch for Williams, writes Peter Mitchell
IF there is an actor in Hollywood who knows about rehab and marriage break-ups it is Robin Williams. It’s not surprising when prolific TV writer and producer David E. Kelley was creating the new comedy series The Crazy Ones with the lead character a regular guest at rehabs and divorce court, Williams came to mind.
‘‘I don’t know,’’ Williams laughs when asked how he could possibly play the role. ‘‘I have certain sense memories and certain blackouts I remember.’’
For the record, Williams has had two failed marriages and (hopefully) on October 23 will celebrate a two-year anniversary with his third wife, graphic designer Susan Schneider.
The 62-year-old has also been open about his cocaine addiction and abuse of alcohol, so playing fast-talking Chicago advertising genius Simon Roberts is not a stretch.
‘‘I have some stuff to work with,’’ Williams says.
The Crazy Ones marks Williams’ return to a regular television series role since the sitcom Mork & Mindy ended its four-year run in 1982.
Roberts’ daughter Sydney, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, is a professional, straight-laced executive at the ad agency – everything her father isn’t.
‘‘It has a nice edge to it and is pretty wild,’’ says Williams. ‘‘The cast is amazing – Hamish Linklater ( The New Adventures of Old Christine), James Wolk ( Mad Men, Shameless), Sarah Michelle Gellar ( Buffy the Vampire Slayer) – are out there doing stuff and they are just as crazy as what I am.’’
A few years ago it was rare for a movie star to leave film for a TV series, but Williams and other Oscar winners and A-Listers have made the move as film roles dried up, great TV scripts were produced and $US100,000 ($106,332)-plus an episode pay cheques awaited.
Plenty of hard work, however, also greeted Williams with the fast-paced shooting schedules for TV shows a long sprint compared to the marathon, slower-paced film schedules.
‘‘It’s work boss,’’ says Williams of The Crazy Ones’ work schedule. ‘‘It’s like a mini-movie every week. ‘‘You are working five days a week really, really hard, sometimes 14 or 15 hours a day, but the good news is the work is exciting and the people are really wonderful.’’
Williams is one of the rare Hollywood actors who can bounce from a comedy to a drama, starring in roles as varied as Mrs Doubtfire, The Birdcage and Flubber to playing a killer opposite Al Pacino in Insomnia, a doctor opposite Robert De Niro in Awakenings or a creepy photo technician in One Hour Photo.
He earned an Oscar for Good Will Hunting in 1998 and other nominations for The Fisher King, Dead Poets Society and Good Morning, Vietnam.
Williams finds comedic roles more challenging than dramas.
‘‘The weird thing is the pressure is much less when you a performing as a serious, dramatic actor,’’ Williams says.
‘‘In comedy, you are portraying a character but you are also seeking a laugh. When you are playing a psychopath all you have to say is ‘I’m going to kill you’.’’
The Crazy Ones: Sundays, 7pm, Fox8.