Re­hab, mar­riage break-ups no stretch for Wil­liams, writes Peter Mitchell

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

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.

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