I think we’ve covered our love for Robin Williams and our sadness for his passing in fairly good detail here at Pajiba. reddit decided to share Robin Williams’ AMA from 10 months ago at the top of the sub-reddit’s front page. Let’s all look at some of the questions and answers and add those to the list of brilliance the man left behind.
What is something you’ve gotten into and gotten excited about lately?
My wife’s art. To realizing that painting is a full-contact art form. She came out of her art studio all day and I thought she had been attacked because she was covered in red, but it was just paint, and she had this great stunned expression, almost post-orgasmic. The painting was exquisite, a very dramatic landscape. And I realized that she had the same type of emotional response as I do when I perform.
Who is your favorite celebrity to impersonate? What celebrity does an impersonation of you that you enjoy?
Oh my god, Jack Nicholson. He once was with me at a benefit and leaned over and said “even oysters have enemies.” In a very intense voice. I responded with “Increase your dosage.”
Dana Carvey does my personal favorite impression of myself. It’s accurate. And kind.
Me and my sister watch Mrs. Doubtfire almost on a regular basis. (“I AM JOB.”) Anyway, is there a funny/fond story you could share about working on the set of that movie?
Yes. One time in makeup as Mrs. Doubtfire, I walked into a sex shop in San Francisco and tried to buy a double-headed dildo. Just because. Why not? And the guy was about to sell it to me until he realized it was me - Robin Williams - not an older Scottish woman coming in to look for a very large dildo and a jar of lube. He just laughed and said “what are you doing here” and I left. Did I make the purchase? No. * Did I walk away with a really good story? *Yes.
According to IMDb, you would frequently call Steven Spielberg during the filming of Schindler’s List to cheer him up. How did this arrangement begin? What was a typical conversation like?
I think I only called him once, maybe twice. I called him when I was representing People for the Valdheimers Association. A society devoted to helping raise money to help older Germans who had forgotten everything before 1945. I remember him laughing and going “thank you.”
What is your favorite book/book series?
Oh my god, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. It’s one of the greatest books of all time, and the greatest character is The Mule.
Mr. Williams, I have two questions.
first: Is it true that celebrities receive power from fans the same way that Greek gods did? i.e. are you Zeus?
second: What was the craziest/funniest encounter you’ve had with a fan?
I’ve just grown one inch because of this comment! BLESS YOU! I’m opening a door with my eyes right now!
(no but it’s not true, I’m not an emotional vampire, but I have to say that laughter does give you a brief neuron pump that helps. Or a nice serotonin fix).
A woman in the Dallas airport came up to me and literally said “Be zany.” Like she had walked up to Baryshnikov and said “dance.” I didn’t know how to respond. I just went “thank you! And Lincoln freed everyone.”
Robin, When ‘Aladdin’ was made they made the Genie just for you, how did it feel that they didn’t even think of any other actor to voice the greatest Genie in the world?
I don’t know - initially they came in and I was just doing the scripted lines and I asked “Do you mind if I try something?” and then 18 hours of recording later, they had the genie. I just started playing, and they said “just go with it, go with it, go with it.” So I improvised the character. I think that in the end, there were something like 40 different voices that I did for that role.
Do you have any advice for aspiring actors?!! PLEASE?
Just please make sure that you really love doing it. Because that will get you through the hard times. And the good times.
I wept like an emotionally disturbed infant when I watched “What Dreams May Come.” What was the most valuable thing you learned about your acting from that movie/what criticism stuck with you the most afterwards?
That every moment in life is precious? That the gifts of your relationships with others, don’t miss it. That was one of the hardest movies I think I ever did in my whole career. Every day was literally hell, because of the nature of the subject matter, dealing with death and being in hell literally. When I watched the final movie, I felt it was extraordinarily beautiful but I felt disappointed by the ending. There was a different ending that they shot that I felt was much more true to the story. It was about reincarnation, basically, that they were going to meet again. The movie ended with two babies being born simultaneously, one in Bombay and one in the United States, and they held them up, and then the screen went to black. I don’t know if it’s anywhere.
What is your favorite book? What were your favorite things to do as a child? And what still gives you a sense of wonder?
My children give me a great sense of wonder. Just to see them develop into these extraordinary human beings. And a favorite book as a child? Growing up, it was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - I would read the whole C.S. Lewis series out loud to my kids. I was once reading to Zelda, and she said “don’t do any voices. Just read it as yourself.” So I did, I just read it straight, and she said “that’s better.”
Williams answered a lot of questions and he engaged with several people in comment threads. It really is a worthwhile read, as there are definitely more where these came from.