What the Hell Happened to Robin Williams?

robin williams 2013

At the peak of his career, Robin Williams was one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood. He made the extremely rare transition from comedian to dramatic actor. What’s more, he was able to alternate between popular comedies and dramatic roles while winning awards for both. But eventually, Williams’ popularity waned. While Williams remains busy, his last starring role in a mainstream movie was in 2009.

What the hell happened?

williams - reeve

Williams was a quiet kid who came out of his shell when he became involved in his high school drama department.  In 1973, at the age of 22, Williams was one of only twenty students accepted into the Julliard School.  He and Christopher Reeve were the only two students accepted by John Houseman into the Advanced Program at the school that year.

Williams left Julliard in 1976.  In 1977, he started appearing on TV shows like Laugh-In and Eight is Enough.  He was a regular on the Richard Pryor Show which last only four episodes.  Here’s a clip:

williams - happy days

Williams had a guest spot on the popular 50′s sit-com, Happy Days.  Williams played an alien named Mork who came to Earth looking for a human specimen.  He chose Richie Cunningham to take back to his home planet of Ork.  It fell to the Fonz to save his friend from a bizarre alien abduction.  In the end, the entire episode turned out to be a dream.

The story goes that Williams was cast as Mork after meeting with producer Gary Marshall.  Marshall asked Williams to take a seat and Williams immediately sat on his head.  Marshall later commented that Williams was the only alien to audition for the role.

williams - mork and mindy

Williams’ guest spot on Happy Days was popular enough for Marshall to launch a spin-off show, Mork and Mindy in 1978.

(This was an exceptionally common practice at the time.  Happy Days was a spin-off from Love American Style.    In addition to Mork and Mindy, Happy Days launched six other shows: Laverne & Shirley, Blansky’s Beauties, Out of the Blue, Joanie Loves Chachi, and two cartoons.)

The new show had Mork landing on Earth in the present day of the 70s.  Instead of abducting a human specimen, Mork’s mission was to study humans and report back to his boss on Ork.  Mork was taken in by the beautiful and kind-hearted Mindy played by Pam Dawber.  Hi-jinks ensued.

The Mork character was extremely popular with kids.  It launched a slew of Mork-themed merchandise.  Williams’ grinning face was everywhere.  Speaking as a kid who was part of the show’s target demographic, I loved the broad humor.  I even went as Mork for Halloween one year.


The pictures isn’t of me.  But I had this exact costume right down to the creepy Williams mask.  Although I didn’t wear the mask.  Those things were extremely uncomfortable.  And what do you need the mask for?  Batman, sure.  But Mork?  Especially when they put his face on your chest as well.  What was the point of that?  It’s not like Mork had a picture of his face (long with his name and catch phrase) on his chest.


Mork and Mindy ran through 1982.  In the final season, a number of gimmicks were used to try to save the show.  Mork and Mindy got married and had a son.  Because of his alien physiology, their son aged backwards which allowed them to cast comedy legend Jonathan Winters as a child in the body of an old man.

The gimmicks did not result in increased ratings.  The show ended on a cliff-hanger.  In the first two parts of a three-part story, Mindy’s apparent was destroyed and the family was on the run from a hostile alien.  The conclusion to the story was never filmed.

The final episode of the show to air was filmed before the cliff-hanger and did not resolve the dangling plot thread – much to the chagrin this particular Mork and Mindy fan.  (I spent years trying to figure out whether or not I had missed the conclusion.  Turns out, I hadn’t.)

While Mork and Mindy was still on the air, Williams was also working as a stand-up comic.  He filmed an his first HBO special, Off the Wall, in 1978.

 williams - popeye

In 1980, Williams made the jump to the big screen in Robert Altman’s musical take on the popular cartoon strip, Popeye.

Popeye is an odd an uneven mix of adult sensibilities with what is ostensibly a children’s film.  Williams, with cartoonishly bulging forearms, makes a great live-action Popeye.  He mumbles all of his lines, but when you can understand him he is genuinely funny.  And Olive Oyl is surely the role Shelley Duvall was born to play.  But anyone expecting a brightly colored live-action cartoon was likely disappointed by the dirty, realistic look of the film.

Originally, the roles of Popeye and Olive Oyl were intended to be played by Dustin Hoffman and Gilda Radner.  Hoffman left over a dispute over the hiring of  Jules Feiffer as the scriptwriter.  Radner was the studio choice, but Altman held out for Duvall.

Popeye was co-produced by Paramount and Disney.  Their intent was to duplicate the success Warner Brothers had with Superman (starring Williams’ former classmate and close friend, Reeve).  At the time, the studios saw cartoon and comic strip characters as more or less equal.  So the thought was that Popeye should be a Superman-sized hit.

Reviews were mixed and the movie was considered a flop.  In reality, it earned back its $20 million dollar budget and then some.  But its domestic gross of just under $50 million was a disappointment to the studios involved.

Next: The World According to Garp and Moscow on the Hudsom

Posted on April 25, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 97 Comments.

  1. What has happened to Robin Williams?:

    In a follow up to my article on the sad decline of Robert DeNiro’s film career and legacy, I have decided to report on the equally sad decline of Mr. Robin Williams. In a career that has included 4 Oscar nominations (and 1 Oscar win), 2 Emmys, 4 Golden Globes, and 2 SAG awards, Robin Williams has had success in both dramatic and comedic roles. Having studied at Juilliard from 1973-1976, Williams studied with revered acting teacher John Houseman and easily mastered dialects. It was soon after that he was cast by Garry Marshall in the hit sitcom Mork & Mindy, which ran from 1978-1982.

    Williams’ gifts as a stand-up comedian reached a broader audience through three HBO specials: Off the Wall (1978), An Evening with Robin Williams (1982), and Robin Williams: Live at the Met (1986). He also hosted the Academy Awards in 1986. Later comedy specials opposite Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal only added to his ever-widening appeal.

    Williams’ film career peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the films Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poet’s Society (1989), and The Fisher King (1991). He received Academy Award nominations for all three performances, and all three films were successful at the U.S. box office. Other successful film roles during this phase of his career included Awakenings (1990), the voice of the Genie in Aladdin (1992), and the smash hit comedy Mrs. Doubtfire (1993).

    In the mid-to-late 1990s, Williams’ career choices varied in their level of complexity and depth. In What Dreams May Come (1998), a visually stimulating, but depressing film, he played a man who dies and goes to heaven, but longs to be with his wife again. The Birdcage (1996) was well-suited to his comedic gifts. He opted to play the straight man (not literally) opposite Nathan Lane in a non-musical version of Broadway’s La Cage aux Folles. The cast received a SAG award for Best Ensemble Cast that year. In 1997, he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Good Will Hunting. With a rare exception, it has been majorly downhill since then. Could it be the Oscar curse?

    Here is the evidence: Patch Adams (1998), Bicentennial Man (1999), Jakob the Liar (1999), Death to Smoochy (2002), The Night Listener (2006), Man of the Year (2006), License to Wed (2007), August Rush (2007), and Old Dogs (2009). The rare exception included his bizarre, but interesting turn in One Hour Photo (2002) and his understated performance as a murderous psycho in Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia (2002).

    Why so few interesting film roles? He has resorted to one-note, badly written roles that leave him unchallenged, unfunny (in most cases), and commercially unreliable. It would be great to see him immerse himself in a gritty indie film with someone like Darren Aronofsky or Paul Thomas Anderson. The comedic timing and dramatic chops are there. However, they have been hiding while someone continues to choose paycheck movies. Apparently, the paychecks are drying up, too. His last hit at the box office (where he actually carried the film) was Patch Adams, a completely lame and ridiculous film. There have been modest hits where he wasn’t completely responsible for carrying the film (Happy Feet, Insomnia), but the days of box office domination are long behind him. He’s just trying too hard to be funny, and he comes across as desperate, lame, grossly unfunny, and in some cases…repulsive (License to Wed).

    Avoid mainstream fare for a while, Mr. Williams. Head to the indie world and rediscover your inner actor. I would love to see Sofia Coppola do for Robin Williams what she did for Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. He was humorous, but also sad and vulnerable. It was a tour de force performance and Williams would have also been greatly suited to that role. Murray even got an Oscar nomination. Good luck with your future film choices, sir. You’re going to need it. You are fast becoming Robert DeNiro…a once great actor whose legacy is waning by the day.


  2. 10 Actors Who Are Nowhere Near As Great As They Used To Be:

    4. Robin Williams

    Robin Williams is a god. He is comedy royalty. He changed the face of comedy into something more than just pie-in the-face, although he was still good for a pie-in-the face laugh. Robin Williams, the comedian, is an icon.

    He also seems to have created the “comedy actors career trajectory path.” This path leads from struggling stand-up comedian to TV success to movie success to curious movie choices (usually heavy dramatic fare) to attempts to reclaim the funny but never rising again to the top, leaving said actor stuck in a purgatory of sorts between past comedy fame and drama. He suffered from audience and bipolar. He wanted to make movies that touched upon the human soul and condition and succeeded in tugging at the heartstrings in Mrs. Doubtfire, Awakenings and Patch Adams. Williams won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Good Will Hunting. However, we also wanted the explosive verbal diarrhea Robin Williams, as in Aladdin or Good Morning Vietnam. So he decided to provide us neither ever again.

    So what happened?

    The 2002 ‘Stalker Trilogy’. Although he received critic points for again stepping out of his acting zone, audiences were lukewarm to the lone killer in Insomnia, the weird Photo booth guy in One Hour Photo and murderous kid’s show host in Death to Smoochy. After 9/11, America needed a good laugh and their once go-to guy for laughter was coming off as a bit of a creepy perv.

    After that, nobody has ever looked at Robin Williams as the guy who once played a grown-up Peter Pan or shook the foundations of prep school establishment in Dead Poet’s Society. Now, he’s just the guy who plays an animated yet subdued Teddy Roosevelt in Night at The Museum and according to your parents was quite funny at one time.


  3. TVtropes.org – Fallen Creator:

    In The Nineties, Robin Williams (having built himself up from being just a stand-up comedian / sitcom star) was one of the most beloved comedic actors. He was doing it all: Adult comedies, kids’ films, a few dramas here and there. And for one film in that last category, Good Will Hunting, he won an Oscar. And then he made Patch Adams, which wasn’t even a bad movie, but many people were turned off by the combination of overly-zany humor and saccharine drama, and many also believed that the other doctors in the film were right. From then on, many television shows viewed him as a kind of walking punchline rather than the jokester. People started to focus on his less-than-stellar career choices like RV, License To Wed, and Old Dogs while ignoring his better output such as House Of D, The Big White and World’s Greatest Dad (it doesn’t help that the former three are major studio films while the latter three are from independent studios). The exceptions are films like Insomnia & One Hour Photo, where he plays the villain.

    Williams has regained some measure of respect by returning to his roots with a number of well-received stand up specials.


    • I do wonder if “Patch Adams” was the tipping point in which most people started to turn on Robin Williams.

      Nostalgia Critic: Patch Adams:

      The Nostalgia Critic’s review even makes fun of how Robin Williams during his ’90s era movies had to make some emotional speech in front of a crowded room (to the point in which it became cliched) at the end (such as this as well as “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Jack”).

      Audiences were getting sick of seeing Robin in these sort of maudlin type of movies so he tried to overcompensate by going to the other extreme in these dark, disturbing type of movies. Unfortunately, doing those type of movies more than often doesn’t connect w/ mainstream audiences.

      So naturally, Robin went back to doing more family-friendly movies like “RV”, “Night at the Museum”, and “Old Dogs”.


      • I doubt it (Patch Adams was a big winner with Moviegoers). I think like any actor, his popularity declined simply because of his age.

        He’s basically doing the same shtick over and over again, and he refused to grow up with his audience. Happens to most actors.


        • Audiences turned up to see Patch Adams, but I do think a lot of them felt betrayed by the movie. Up until then, audiences put a lot of faith in Williams to deliver comedy with heart. I think the manipulation pf PA left a lot of his fans cold. So even though the movie did well at the box office, I think it was a tipping point in how Williams was perceived. That was when his schtick officially got tired.


          • With Jack, Coppola gave Robin Williams his sentimental nadir:

            Robin Williams is, by all accounts, a lovely human being. He’s an accomplished, Academy Award-winning dramatic actor and an international comedy superstar who for decades now has been beloved by millions. Yet for some, Williams inspires a level of contempt and vitriol better suited to genocidal dictators and child-rapists than hirsute funnymen. Detractors don’t just dislike Williams, they despise him. I suspect that’s because there are few qualities more off-putting than publicly broadcasting your need for validation. Williams has always been among our most shamelessly needy entertainers.

            Loud, profuse laughter has never been enough for Williams. He wants to go beyond amusing people, to touch their souls, uplift their spirits, and teach them a few lessons about this crazy whirlwind called life. It’s this brazen, seemingly unexamined sentimentality—an intense need to represent all that is pure and wondrous about the world—that makes Williams so insufferable at his cloying worst.

            Though his characters have had different names and identities, Williams has played the manifestation of childhood magic and wonder repeatedly: as a professional toy-maker in Barry Levinson’s wildly overreaching comic fantasy Toys. As a slightly more adult version of a similar character in Patch Adams, putting on a clown nose to distract small children from thinking about their impending deaths. Most disastrously, the 1996 drama Jack puts metaphorical clown noses on all the other characters, desperately attempting to distract audiences from obsessing about the impending death of the giant child Williams plays.

            For people who despise Williams’ penchant for sentimentality, Jack is the heart of darkness, a movie that embodies everything sappy and pandering about his persona, but in unusually pure, obnoxious form. Even in a career that includes both Patch Adams and a suspiciously The Day The Clown Cried-style inspirational Holocaust drama drama called Jakob The Liar, Jack looms ominously as the ultimate Robin Williams sap-fest.

            Williams has long specialized in playing twinkly-eyed man-children, but Jack casts him as a literal man-child, a boy named Jack born with a rare disease that causes him to grow four times faster than normal. The doctor who diagnoses Jack’s condition assures the baby’s parents, Karen (Diane Lane) and Brian (Brian Kerwin) that despite this abnormality, Jack is not in pain, and is otherwise normal and healthy, though it does mean he’ll die young. Despite the doctor’s soothing words, there’s no quite getting around the tragic core of Jack: A Giant Child Who Is Going To Die Young. So the film goes out of its way to distract viewers with juvenile nonsense in order to keep them from focusing on the protagonist’s looming death.

            Hopscotch forward 10 years: Jack has now adopted the hairy, motor-mouthed form of Robin Williams, and wants nothing more than to run, play, and have fun with other children his age at public school, instead of being tutored by Lawrence Woodruff (a blissfully restrained, avuncular Bill Cosby) and spending all his free time frolicking with his loving but overprotective mother. Jack condescendingly treats its protagonist like E.T. or Pinocchio, a magical outsider whose poignant desire to be human is supposed to speak eloquently about our own humanity.

            At this point, I should probably mention that Francis Ford Coppola, the director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, also directed Jack. Coppola seems to have directed the child actors in Jack to go so unbelievably broad and over-the-top that Williams can’t help but seem like the most convincing, believable child in any given scene by default. The only way the pint-sized hams here could be more ostentatious would be if they rapped all their lines while break-dancing. Jack doesn’t surround its out-sized protagonist with other children so much as it surrounds him with the hammiest, most embarrassing kind of child actor, the kind other child actors shun for being gratingly precocious. These abysmal performers make the film feel not like a Coppola movie, so much as a direct-to-video sequel to The Sandlot—call it The Sandlot 5: The Legend Of The Really Big, Weird Kid—that inexplicably attracted Coppola and Williams’ attention.

            Despite all this, the prospect of Robin Williams in full-on man-child-sprite-pixie mode was enough to make Jack a commercial success: It was the 25th highest-grossing film of 1996—just meeting the criteria for a Forgotbuster—pulling in close to $60 million domestically, despite overwhelmingly negative reviews. And, oh yes, a premise involving a giant child who is going to die young.

            But before the giant child dies young, he first gets to go to regular school, where he falls out of his tiny desk. (Because it is small and he is big!) At first, he’s ridiculed for being different and big and weird, but Jack’s classmates eventually discover that there are upsides to being friends with a 10-year-old with the body of a 40-year-old. They dispatch him to procure what my generation knew as “girly mags,” a “gag” that typifies Jack’s almost perverse wholesomeness. The film inhabits an Eisenhower-era, Leave It To Beaver America of white picket fences, stick-ball games, and giant tree-houses, where the most mischief a kid can get into is farting into a can, or checking out copies of Penthouse with his bestest pals.

            Coppola was once the most ambitious, charismatic filmmaker alive, but with Jack, he didn’t make a family film so much as a film destined to insult the intelligence of anyone old enough to read. Jack is shameless enough to have its protagonist gaze with wide-eyed wonder at a caterpillar, then at a cocoon, and then at a butterfly emerging magically out of its chrysalis, in order to represent his understanding of life’s cycles and the beauty and wonder of personal development and transformation. Then it returns to the image of a butterfly, with a brazenness that would make Anne Geddes vomit glitter rainbows in disgust.

            The film’s full-bodied, wholehearted embrace of the maudlin, kitschy, and innocent makes it even more glaringly incongruous when sex, and all the confusion it engenders, arrives in the wiggling, giggling, cleavage-baring, nasal form of Dolores “D.D.” Durante (Fran Drescher), the sexually voracious mother of Jack’s greaser buddy Louie (Adam Zolotin). Louie has Jack impersonate their principal for his mother’s benefit, and D.D., being a trusting, oblivious soul, doesn’t seem too concerned that the principal of her son’s school is either a 10-year-old with an aging disease, an idiot-savant who keeps his savant side carefully hidden, or deeply mentally challenged.

            All D.D. knows is that she wants this bizarre, seemingly mentally challenged man-child, so she slips him her number. This jarring development replaces the insistent internal throb of that giant child is going to die young with Oh my God, is that giant child going to have sex with Fran Drescher before dying young?

            D.D. then disappears from the movie, and the threat seems to pass, until later, when Jack gets sad and ends up in a bar, where he befriends a downcast, toupee-wearing man named Paul, played by Michael McKean. Paul talks about a failed recent sexual attempt where he went “limp” while in his “birthday suit,” and Jack, having the innocent ears and eyes and solid-gold heart of a child, or perhaps the literal-minded robot on Small Wonder, thinks his new friend hurt his leg on his birthday. At this boozy haven for lost, drunken souls, Jack sees D.D. and works up the moxie to grope her ass, but before he can seal the deal, he bumps into a barroom bully, who taunts him with, “What do you think, you’re pretty smart?” When Jack answers affirmatively, except for social studies, the thug responds with, “Studies? How’d you like to study my fist?” (Again, this is an exchange that occurred in a film by the director of The Conversation.)

            Jack alternates deliriously and incoherently between G-rated family-friendly shenanigans and hilariously mawkish melodrama. One moment, Jack is bonding with his bros in a giant tree-house by farting into a can and eating totally gross stuff; the next, he’s contemplating his mortality when he answers the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” with a trembling, “I want to be alive.”

            On a thematic level, Jack is about profound issues: childhood, aging, perspective, and the value and meaning of life. But from a plot standpoint, it’s almost perversely mundane. The film is primarily concerned with Jack’s efforts to go to a public school, and then his efforts to get sent back to the public school after his parents decide it’d be safer and more secure to have him home-tutored. The film’s climax consists of Jack’s obnoxious friends begging his mom to let him come out and join them in their youthful frolics, both through words and by having a veritable carnival of fun just outside his front door. Jack is threadbare and deficient in terms of plot and characterization, yet as it creaks into the home stretch, it lurches for a sense of purpose, and struggles to supply uplift it hasn’t come close to earning.

            After establishing its protagonist as an exemplar of all that is good and pure about the human spirit, the film flashes forward seven years to Jack’s high-school graduation. In a vomit-inducing fit of sentimentality, a now-wizened Jack—back-lit by the requisite halo of golden light and scored to soaring strings—serves up the film’s cloying message on a platter, announcing, “In the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night, and when a shooting star shoots through the blackness turning night into day, make a wish. Think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did. I made it, Mom. I’m a grown-up.”

            In this moment, the film shamelessly ejaculates thick streams of undiluted sap in a 25-person gang-bang of grotesque melodrama. Jack drills into audiences the magic of life, the wonder of childhood, and the beauty of friendship, while making a terrible case for all three. It embodies the treacle at the core of Williams’ persona, but for Coppola, it was undeniably a low. The director quit film-making for a good decade following the next year’s The Rainmaker, but his perplexingly generic work here strongly suggests that he quit trying shortly before the script for Jack first reached his desk.


  4. Robin Williams really is a versatile actor. But you are right, his funny stuff did get old. I saw World’s Greatest Dad and loved it. I thought Williams was great in it. Also, he needs to stay as far away as possible from movies that are going to cast him as priests! Great article.


    • Glad you liked it. I will admit, I have been making fun of Williams for the last decade or so. But researching this article, I was amazed by how versatile he is. World’s Greasted Dad is a really ballsy movie. Hats off to Williams for gambling on material like that!


  5. I’m surprised that LeBeau didn’t mention Robin’s appearance in the video for Bobby McFerrin’s #1 Billboard hit from 1988 “Don’t Worry Be Happy”.


    • I remember when “Don’t Worry Be Happy” was featured on “Beavis & Butt-Head”. When Beavis & Butt-Head recognized “Mrs. DoubtFIRE”, Beavis said that he didn’t think that Robin (although they never actually referred to him by his actual name) was really funny. Butt-Head replied that Robin Williams always has to talk really fast so you wouldn’t notice that he’s not really that funny.


  6. Another intriguing installment in the series, and great retrospective. I think it makes sense what you are saying about how a comic’s shtick can get cold, and it seems to be the Achilles heel of many a comedian. But at least he has gotten to be more versatile and ride out the inevitable fall from height, a little more gracefully. “Mrs Doubtfire” seems to be on TV endlessly and we actually saw it a week or so ago. It really illustrates well, both his talent for physical comedy (A+) and being serious (B+). I can’t think of anyone in the world who could have delivered a line like “It was a drive-by fruiting” like Williams did. (Improv?) “Night at the Museum”, of course he nailed, as did everyone in the incredibly talented cast. Kids do like it, but whether or not you will enjoy it as an adult will depend entirely on your perspective. I was going through a bad phase at work where I saw all kind of workplace parallels in the events of “Night at the Museum” and watched it several times during that time period. It’s worth checking out, especially since you can actually watch it with your kids. You will not be bored.
    “RV”, which I fully expected to be lame, is actually not bad, provided again, you are in the mood for slapstick/physical comedy that is family friendly.


    • Mrs. Doubtfire is what it is. I remember being entertained the one time I ever watched it. But I don’t care for formulaic movies. So I just can’t bring myself to sit down and watch it again.

      I have heard pretty good things about the Night at the Museum movies. I’m sure they are good, mindless entertainment. I haven’t avoided them. I just haven’t gone out of my way either. I’m sure I will get around to seeing them. There are some very talented actors in them.

      I assumed RV was a piece of trash. I was shocked to discover it was directed by Barry Levinson. Now I am curious to check it out.

      Usually when I write these articles, I come away with either more or less respect for the subject. In this case, I gained a tremendous respect for Williams even if I haven’t cared about many of his movies lately.


      • I must confess Lebeau, you will find RV to be somewhat formulaic. OK there are shameless Vacation ripoffs in it. But let me put it this way. If you are in need of family entertainment for an evening, the Lebeau offspring will be screaming with laughter, and the Lebeau parental units will not be bored, but will probably not watch it more than once.


  7. Robin Williams is one of the actor I litterally grew up with. I grew up as a child with many of the movies you mentioned here. So thanks for this article. Tough unfortunately many of his late works are pretty embarassing, however I’m also surprised that his late movies have not be the box-office bomb I thought.


    • Long time no see. How’s things in Italy?

      I knew RV did pretty well. But I was really shocked by how many of his movies I had considered bombs actually did okay. Nothing to brag about, but reasonably well. It explains how he kept making them I guess.


  8. I don’t know, he had a career as a lead actor in mainstream movies for 27 years (Garp 1982 – Old Dogs 2009) and he’s still making mainstream movies (and they are ensemble projects with star billing, so I still don’t classify him as a supporting actor, yet).

    I see Harrison Ford listed in the poll has a potential candidate. Please no! The guy is 71 years old, has had a career for nearly FIFTY years, and currently has above-the-title billing in a #1 box office. A WTHHT on him would be ridiculous….he’s a legend, and there are so many other actors of his generation who have truly fallen from grace and not had a star career half as long as him.


    • Which Actor/Actress Has Had The Biggest Fall From Grace Since Burt Reynolds?:

      Harrison Ford: In my opinion, Harrison Ford has had a fall from grace that is even bigger than the one suffered by Burt Reynolds. Ranked in 1997 by Empire Magazine as the biggest film star of all time, Ford has since starred in 12 films. Of those 12 films, only 3 have made over $100 million domestically (and Cowboys and Aliens shouldn’t even count since it barely made it over this threshold and couldn’t recoup its $163 million budget through domestic receipts alone). Once thought immune to empty-box office syndrome, Ford can now be seen in 42, a trite, tiresome, and by-the-book biopic of Jackie Robinson whose screenplay he would have scoffed at only ten years ago.


    • How has Harrison Ford ended up here?:

      As his latest film limps to just $6m in its opening weekend, we look at what’s happened to the career of Harrison Ford over the past decade or so…

      This time ten years ago, Harrison Ford was hard at work on Robert Zemeckis’ What Lies Beneath. It was a thriller where he effectively took second billing to Michelle Pfeiffer, and by the standards of the Hollywood movie star, he took quite a bold role in the film. A risk, you’d have to call it. When it was released towards the end of the year, What Lies Beneath emerged as a derivative but quite effective thriller (albeit one with a trailer that seemed keen to spoil the main feature), and could generally be chalked up as a success for all concerned.

      It was also, with the exception of one major franchise that we’ll come to shortly, the last time that a Harrison Ford movie crossed the $100m mark at the US box office

      Harrison Ford’s qualities as a box office draw in the decades before are without question. He chose his roles well, and managed to mix in smaller projects such as Witness alongside some of the better blockbusters of the 90s: Air Force One, Clear And Present Danger and The Fugitive instantly spring to mind. Sure, he had his duffers too, but there was always a big hit never far away. Throw in the two big franchises in his career – Star Wars and Indiana Jones – and it’s not an unreasonable suggestion to infer that we’ll not see a movie star enjoy such consistent box office success for a long time to come.

      And yet, the past decade has been really quite barren for Ford. It’s not just that the films he’s made since What Lies Beneath have underperformed at the box office. More importantly, it’s also that they’ve really not been very good. Seriously, here’s the list: K-19 The Widowmaker (dodgy Russian accent a very bad idea), Hollywood Homicide (fairly poor action comedy co-starring Josh Hartnett, directed by the usually brilliant Ron Shelton), Firewall (genuinely shit and unconvincing techno-thriller), Crossing Over and Extraordinary Measures.

      The last two have, arguably, been the biggest disappointments. It’s always been a bit of a frustration that, at the peak of his powers, Ford didn’t choose edgier projects to lend his star power to. Among the roles that he reportedly turned down in that time were Michael Douglas’ part in Traffic, George Clooney’s Oscar-winning role in Syriana (a decision he admits he regrets), Kevin Costner’s in JFK, Liam Neeson’s In Schindler’s List, Val Kilmer’s in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Nick Nolte’s in Cape Fear. That’s quite a list of challenging, interesting projects that he chose not to commit to for whatever reason. It almost felt like he was playing safety first.

      But perhaps we’re seeing why. For Ford is at the stage of his career where he has been looking at more interesting dramas, such as Wayne Kramer’s Crossing Over, and the newly-released in the US Extraordinary Measures for director Tom Vaughan. Yet, when Michael Douglas picks a serious ensemble drama to commit to, for example, he manages to pick something of real substance and quality. Ford? He’s not having the same kind of luck. It’s hard to knock him for finally gamling on more interesting projects, but he’s striking out both commercially and critically.

      Is it, then, a bad eye for material that Ford seems to have now? Maybe, maybe not. But glancing at the Rotten Tomatoes aggregated scores for Crossing Over and Extraordinary Measures doesn’t paint a very flattering picture. Crossing Over scores 16%, while Extraordinary Measures rates at 29%. Reviews were not kind, and Crossing Over now sits unloved in the bargain bin at my local DVD store already. Neither film’s box office was even a shadow of what Ford’s films used to muster at the height of his career, either. Appreciating that these are smaller projects with less ambitious projected box office returns. Extraordinary Measures picked up just $6m in its opening weekend, and is set to sink without trace from US cinemas in the next couple of weeks. Crossing Over (a troubled production, to be fair) brought in – are you ready for this? – just over $3m worldwide. There are smaller projects, but with a big movie star name attached, you’d still expect a good $10-20m in the bank just as a starting point. Ford’s pulling power outside of one film role now seems virtually non-existent. And it’s a real shame it’s come to this.

      So, inevitably, it seems that the only franchise that Ford has left in his back pocket to bank on – given that Paramount is keen to go younger with Jack Ryan, having now cast Chris Pine in the role – is Indiana Jones. Much has been written of Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, much of it not complimentary. And with good reason: it was, in retrospect, a fairly crappy film. But I’ll give it this: I still got a real kick out of watching Ford do his stuff in the title role. He owns that part, and it was the first reminder we’d had in a decade of what this man can do when front and centre of a big movie. Granted, we’re hardly talking Oscars all round, but it was a big movie star role played by an actor showing why he became a big movie star in the first place. A fifth Indiana Jones film may be the only way he can break $100m at the US box office again (and Crystal Skull, lest we forget, did over $700m worldwide), but there aren’t many actors of his vintage, to be fair, who could even think about powering a hit of that size (or at any point in their careers).

      But is there hope on the horizon? Because what’s perhaps more promising is Ford’s next film. Currently in post-production, Morning Glory is a rare venture into comedy for him. I say this, as I’ve always felt that Ford has demonstrated a deadpan skill for comedy (and not just for the way he told Bruno where to go in last year’s Sacha Baron Cohen comedy). His delivery was often comedically brilliant in Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and I always think back to his perfectly-pitched performance in Working Girl too. I maintain the Ford is a skilled comedy actor in the right role, and maybe Morning Glory will be the first role in a long time to allow those skills to flourish.

      Because here’s the thing: personally, I love lots of Harrison Ford movies, and unlike some actors who rely on the same-old to bring home their bacon, at least the man now seems to be trying. He’s not always chosen wisely in the past (although who has?), and that list of roles he’s rejected – appreciating retrospect is an easy art – would alone make for a staggering CV. Some actors clearly deserve a box office wallop, and Ford shouldn’t be immune to that. But he seems to be taking his punishment harder than most.

      Granted, he’s at a point in his career where that probably doesn’t matter, but wouldn’t it be great now to see him really taking a few big gambles, and committing to some genuinely interesting indie projects? If he still wants the limelight, then Indy is always in his back pocket. But Ford is still a big talent, and a genuine movie star. Imagine him teaming up with an ambitious first time director for a project that genuinely took a few more risks? That’s still got to be something worth waiting for, and I’m indebted to Empire magazine for revealing that he’s next going to working with Bronson director Nick Winding Refn. I’d far rather he took on these small films and failed, than choosing something of the ilk of Firewall again. It’s why, in spite of the numbers and reviews, I’ll give Extraordinary Measures a try when it comes to the UK at the end of the month.

      In the meantime, we hold out hope that Morning Glory delivers. The presence of Notting Hill director Roger Michell behind the camera is promising, and at the very least, we’re expecting it to make a more sizeable landing than Extraordinary Measures.

      So here’s hoping that, for the first time in a decade (with arguably the exception of Indy, at least for novelty value), we get a really good reason to go and see a Harrison Ford movie on the big screen. It really has been some time…


    • What happened to Harrison Ford?:

      He traversed distant galaxies with Chewbacca, shot sword-wielding assassins with Marion Ravenwood and outfoxed federal marshal Samuel Gerard all by himself.

      But these days all those things may as well have happened to a different actor than Harrison Ford, who in the last decade has robbed banks, sought rare cures, captained Russian subs and investigated murders of hip-hop stars, all in the land of obscurity. (“Firewall,” “Extraordinary Measures,” “K-19: The Widowmaker” and “Hollywood Homicide,” if you were trying to guess what movies those were.)

      This weekend’s release of “Morning Glory” painfully underscored Ford’s marginality. The actor plays a grizzled, serious journalist who’s forced, through the unique power of Hollywood cause-and-effect, to take a job as a bantering morning host. The comedy-drama about the state of the news business was marketed heavily using Ford’s name and visage, and the actor gamely went on the likes of “The Late Show With David Letterman” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to promote it.

      For all the critical jibes, Ford is actually not bad in the role, stalking around with a dour face while doling out digs to his co-anchor like, “Do they have rehab programs for bitter beauty queens with self-esteem issues?” But few, apparently, wanted to see him do that. The movie failed to reach even $10 million in domestic box office this weekend. If you show some chops but no one is there to see it, did you really show them?

      What’s most disappointing about “Morning Glory” is that, after a decade without a comedy, Ford’s turn in something more spry was supposed to mark a new chapter by getting him back to his crowd-pleasing ways. But the movie’s disappointing performance adds one more nail in a coffin that’s been enveloping Ford’s career, “Buried”-style, for years. The actor has been striking out repeatedly as the heroic action figure and didn’t fare better when he went somber as a medical miracle worker in “Extraordinary Measures” earlier this year. Now it turns out we don’t want to see him in a comedy either, not even when he’s playfully riffing on his own taciturn persona.

      In his heyday, Ford was much more than an action hero, of course; he was winning over audiences with dramas such as “Regarding Henry” and even gaining decent notices in romantic comedies like the “Sabrina” remake — exactly the kinds of roles he should be excelling at as he nears 70 and can’t leap into waterfalls anymore.

      What happened? Did we outgrow Ford? Or was his range never as great as we thought it was?

      Some would say that this is all a function of bad choices and that, to salvage his career, the actor should go back to action roles, maybe self-deprecating ones. (The Jack Ryan reboot is a natural candidate). The one time he did that in the last few years, after all, was with “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” and the fans turned out. But with the bad taste that movie left in some mouths, it’s hardly clear that would work either.

      In a sense, Ford has had the opposite career of his “Star Wars” costar Mark Hamill. Unlike Ford and his prolific output, Hamill hasn’t been in a major motion picture in more than two decades. That’s not exactly Hamill’s own choice, but it’s had an oddly positive effect on his reputation. While Ford’s series of poorly received movies has lately relegated the actor to self-parody, Hamill has paradoxically remained in a good pop-culture place, his image unravaged by time or bad roles.

      Ford next stars in the science-fiction-western hybrid “Cowboys & Aliens,” a movie that stays close to his trademark action heroism but branches out in enough new directions that we might be willing to embrace him again. He should hope we do — he’s running out of genres to come back with.


    • The Fall of Harrison Ford:

      Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Harrison Ford reigned as the unchallenged star of middle-of-the-road cinema. Almost unique in modern history, he not only created two iconic characters—Han Solo and Indiana Jones—but also managed to step away from them, into a hugely successful leading-man career in movies such as Working Girl, Patriot Games, and The Fugitive, to name a few. He excelled in grownup action roles, respectably above the pyrotechnic-driven thrills of Stallone and Schwarzenegger—but he was also able to charm as a romantic lead.

      As one-note as Ford’s performances were, audiences seemed never to tire of that note. Until one day, they did.

      And then it ended. Almost overnight, Harrison Ford, 67, went from summer-blockbuster stalwart to Mr. January, a star of films unceremoniously unloaded into Hollywood’s dumping-ground month. His new film Extraordinary Measures, which opened Friday, is about to disappear from a theater near you: It is on track to make a mere $7 million this weekend, putting it in seventh place.

      What is terrifying about this change is that it happened almost without explanation—like a dust bowl suddenly descending upon a once lush and verdant land. One day there was a giant body of water here, and the next day there wasn’t.

      There was no scandal or public meltdown that brought Ford’s career to a halt as happened to Mel Gibson and Tom Cruise. The relatively—by Hollywood standards—private star, had not suffered from overexposure like a Bennifer or Jude Law. His movies didn’t become markedly worse overnight: He continued making the same nuts-and-bolts thrillers and tepid romantic comedies he had always made.

      And yet, his career fell off a cliff. What Lies Beneath was the 10th-highest-grossing film of 2000; two years later, the very decent, Kathryn Bigelow-directed K-19 finished at No. 76. And that was followed by Hollywood Homicide: No. 92 for the year in 2003.

      Even Ford’s long-awaited return last year to his iconic Raiders role, while performing well at the box office, was more of a fizzle than a homecoming in terms of cultural impact.

      The tale of Ford’s decline is perplexing. Can we find lessons here for our own lives? We must try.

      Lesson One: If You Hold a Single Note Long Enough, It Will Eventually Go Off Key

      What particularly bedevils about the collapse of the Harrison Ford market is that the basic product remained more or less unchanged. Even in Extraordinary Measures, he projects the same intense energy he displayed at his career height, barking “Get out of my lab!”—and then learning to care despite himself.

      It’s not as though dramatic range was ever Ford’s thing. Showbiz legend has it that he got the part in Star Wars after volunteering to help out buddy George Lucas at a casting session. Ford listlessly fed lines to the auditioners in his blank, affectless manner, and, at some point during the day, Lucas heard his monotone delivery of “I’ve never heard anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful Force”, and yelled, ‘That’s my Han Solo!’

      Once that deadpan style was forged, Ford stuck with it. Such consistency may not have been the road to Oscar trophies, but finding one character to play served Ford well for years, as it had John Wayne, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart before him.

      As one-note as Ford’s performances were, audiences seemed never to tire of that note. Until one day, they did. Baby-faced boy/men like Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Robert Downey Jr. suddenly became America’s action leads, and guys in suits suddenly looked like grandpa trying to crash the kids’ party.

      Lesson Two: Make Sure the Story Is Always Yours; AKA, Never Let Your Costar’s Narrative Overwhelm Your Own

      The beginning of the end for Ford was a little comedy adventure entitled Six Days, Seven Nights, in which he starred opposite Anne Heche as a pilot marooned on an island with a high-strung magazine editor. When it came out in 1998, Six Days wasn’t Ford’s worst film by a long shot (let us award that distinction to the criminally mawkish Regarding Henry). However, it was the victim, through no fault of Ford’s, of terrible timing.

      When the film was released, co-star Heche was in the midst of her dramatic, well-publicized, tabloid-fodder relationship with Ellen DeGeneres. As one of the first (then) openly gay actresses to star in a Hollywood feature film, Heche-as-heterosexual-lead opposite Ford produced a heavy wave of predictably juvenile guffaws in public commentary on the film. While these snickers didn’t sink the film at the box office—it actually performed respectably—their lack of onscreen chemistry was mocked as ridiculous.

      Ford had been sleepwalking through tepid Hollywood concoctions like Regarding Henry and Sabrina for years before Six Days. But after that moment, audiences have refused to consider him as a romantic lead again. His next film, Random Hearts, was dead on arrival, earning a mere $31 million. He has had two hits since Six Days—the haunted-house thriller What Lies Beneath, which didn’t even feature Ford’s face on the poster, and his return to Indiana Jones.

      Lesson Three: You Can’t Go Home Again

      Is there anything sadder than throwing up your hands on the idea of moving forward and instead capitulating to other people’s desires? Yes, there is: when giving people what they want still doesn’t work.

      The world had been buzzing for two decades about when Ford would once again don the whip and felt hat to play Indiana Jones. But when he finally did in 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the reaction was OK at best. At worst, he was torn apart in a well-circulated Internet parody and on a fantastically outrageous South Park episode.

      The film performed well at the box office, but the excitement of the buildup fizzled almost immediately. In the end, the film’s major legacy may be that no one is crying for another Indiana Jones movie anymore.


      Business seminars could use the Ford implosion as a case study to show the need to remain agile and change with the times. And it is possible that when the actor passes out of this period, he could have an On Golden Pond moment, and, like Henry Fonda was then, be rewarded for his longevity. His fans yearn for that next phase to come. Because in the end, when Hollywood Homicide has long been forgotten, Han Solo and Indiana Jones will live on, along with Blade Runner and The Fugitive. He leaves us with the Harrison Ford we once loved moderately intact. Which these days in a celebrity, is far more than we’ve come to expect.


    • Williams’ career turned out to be better than I gave him credit for before researching the article. That happens sometimes. But I think the general perception is that Williams went from one of Hollywood’s top stars to a joke. I still kind of think that is true. He is no longer anywhere near as respected as he once was. He’s just moderately more successful than people give him credit for.

      A long career doesn’t necessarily disqualify an actor from WTHH. In a way, it can make the question all that much more interesting. How does someone like Ford go from being such a dominant force at the box office to falling off the face of the earth.

      Sure, he’s had a resurgence. And that’s pretty amazing given his age. But I’m still interested in the period from What Lies Beneath to Indiana Jones 4. WTHH there?


      • Craig Hansen

        I’m a huge fan of Harrison Ford, I grew up as a tremendous fan of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, and yet he avoided the career deathtrap of being pigeonholed in those roles with plenty of other enjoyable box office hits during the 80′s and 90′s. He reigned at the box office pretty consistently for many years until after What Lies Beneath in 2000, and as a lifelong fan I too have wondered to myself, WTHH to his career since then? Indy 4 was a blockbuster, but it was a shadow of the greatness of the earlier entries in the series. Cowboys and Aliens broke $100M at the box office, though just barely and was regarded as a flop due to its high budget. 42 was a surprise hit earlier this year, finishing with about $100m domestically, much higher than the experts expected it to do. As a lifelong fan I’m glad to see him have a hit, but it was a supporting role, though I’m sure the film benefited at least slightly box-office wise by his involevment.

        As far as his immediate career, Ender’s Game is releasing at the end of the year with him in a supporting role, and since it’s a big-budget adaptation of a popular novel, I’m sure it’ll do fine box office wise, and of course he’ll finally be returning as everyone’s favorite intergalactic spice-smuggler/scoundrel in Star Wars 7 in 2015, which of course will be another blockbuster, so his career isn’t exactly hurting. I still ponder what happened during the 00′s, but to be honest at this point he is 70 years old, and outside of maybe Clint Eastwood perhaps, I can’t think of any other movie stars that can draw in big audiences on name alone as a leading man at that age, so it’s understandable that Ford is now in his supporting-role stage of his career. I’m not sure if you plan to ever do a Harrison Ford write up, but definately it would be a great career to reflect on overall, and definately that 2000 to 2008 gap is a period worth digging into to figure out WTTH.


        • Exactly. Why should Ford be expected to still be headlining blockbusters in his 70s?!?! Most actors are retired by that age. A WTHHT on him would make no sense and be pointless.

          If his career had died 30 years ago then yes, I would understand an article about him. Burt Reynolds is in his 70s but hasn’t been an A-list actor since the 1980s, so he’s a worthwhile candidate. But Ford starred in his last blockbuster five years ago at the age of 66 and is still getting starring roles in wide releases, which is nothing to bag on.


          • Craig Hansen

            Yeah, Ford may not be the leading man box office draw anymore that he used to be, sadly, but as you mention Denata he is still getting prominent supporting roles in wide releases, so he is doing much better in his career than 99% of other actors in his age bracket.


          • I won’t bag on Ford. His career is amazingly impressive. That’s why I want to write about it. Hopefully when you see the article, you won’t find it “pointless”. ;)


        • With Ford, my interest is in WTHH during his down time. He has had an impressive comeback even if it is as you pointed out a shadow of his former glory. I was a huge fan of Ford’s back in the 80-90s. I have to admit though that my opinion has changed over the years. He doesn’t have nearly the range I used to give him credit for.


    • Agree D, by all definitions Harrison Ford has got to be permanent A+ list. I do think that people of a certain age, such as Ford, Williams and Chase, deserve some credit for continuing to work when they don’t have to.
      What is noticeable from these bios is that men, too, eventually come up against the Hollywood aging problem where there are fewer and fewer roles. It’s just that women seem to hit this wall around 40 and men not until 65.


      • Permanent A-list? No such thing. Everyone falls eventually. Some rise and fall repeatedly. The point is not to mock actors for falling off the A-list. It’s to chart the ebbs and flows.


      • I think there is such a thing as permanent A-list. Paul Newman’s career lost its momentum when he was about 70, yet he was considered an A-list star until the day he died. If Ford chooses to keep working, the same will apply to him, regardless of what projects he does.

        RB hit the nail on the head about how women hit the wall at 40 and men at 65. Liz Taylor was a peer of Newman’s, and seven years YOUNGER than him, yet her movie career died in the mid-1970s. She continued to attract major press until the day she died. For the last 40 years of her life she was a “historical” movie star—she barely did anything except for a few third rate TV movies, but still attracted just as much media attention as any A-list star. I’d say the modern day version of this is Demi Moore, who gets as much press as Angelina Jolie even though she hasn’t starred in a mainstream film in 15 years.


    • Career Watch: Harrison Ford:

      Harrison Ford is an iconic actor who can still draw crowds in an Indiana Jones sequel — but at age 68, he is looking to reclaim his box office mojo after a run of flops.

      Latest Misfire: Although Ford grabbed strong reviews in a supporting role as a crusty one-time news star reduced to co-anchoring a morning show in the careerist comedy ‘Morning Glory,’ which stars perky actress-on-the-rise Rachel McAdams, the press is attacking him for yet another box-office dud. The rom-com opened to a fourth-place $9.6 million this past weekend. Ford fared worse with audiences and critics alike in two recent sober dramas, ‘Extraordinary Measures’ ($12.1 million) and ‘Crossing Over’ ($456,000).

      Signature Line: “Traveling through hyper-space ain’t like dusting crops, boy!”– Han Solo

      Career Peaks: Ford enjoyed a rare 25-year run as an A-list movie star, from his break-out in George Lucas’ ‘American Grafitti’ in 1973 through iconic roles in the ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ franchises and the Jack Ryan series that ended with ‘Clear and Present Danger’ in 1994. He was a dishy romantic lead in ‘Witness,’ ‘Working Girl’ and ‘Regarding Henry,’ but made his fortune as an action hero in tentpoles such as ‘The Fugitive’ and ‘Air Force One.’

      Awards Attention: He was nominated for the best actor Oscar only once, for Peter Weir’s ‘Witness,’ in 1985.

      Biggest Problem: He’s no longer a marquee draw. While he’s delightful in ‘Morning Glory,’ which drew an older crowd, his promo tour on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ and ‘David Letterman’ didn’t cut it. For decades he wouldn’t leave the comfort of his home if he didn’t get his $20 million asking price, turning down the lead in Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-winning ‘Traffic’ — which went to Michael Douglas — in favor of the Russian-accented captain in ‘K-19: The Widowmaker.’ His low points include such studio fare as ‘Sabrina,’ ‘Six Days, Seven Nights,’ ‘Firewall,’ ‘Hollywood Homicide,’ ‘The Devil’s Own’ and ‘Random Hearts.’

      Biggest Assets: Now that those studio paydays are no longer on the table, nor is he a romantic fantasy figure, Ford is free to play the field and experiment a tad. He brings masculine strength and gravitas to roles as commanders, presidents and a man with a gun. And he does comedy. Owen Gleiberman’s ‘Morning Glory’ review describes Ford as “still a magnetic hunk of grey-granite movie star.”

      Current Gossip: With four grown children from prior marriages, Ford finally married 10-year girlfriend Calista Flockhart in June. They are raising a son, Liam, whom Flockhart adopted in 2001. Liam is now nine.

      Next Step: ‘Indiana Jones 5′ is in development, and Ford is gung-ho to do it, he told MTV News: “It’s on George’s plate, and I’m hoping he’s working hard at it, because I’d look forward to doing it again if the three of us could get together — George, [director] Steven Spielberg, myself — I’d love to do another,” he said. Ford hits the range on horseback opposite Daniel Craig in Jon Favreau’s upcoming ‘Cowboys & Aliens.’

      Career Advice: “It’s good to see him working more, he’s a wonderful actor,” says Disney casting chief Marcia Ross, who thinks that the role in ‘Morning Glory’ was perfect casting for him. “You recognize him, he means something.” Finally, Ford should follow his own job description: “My occupation is assistant storyteller. It is not icon.”


  9. What I forgot was just how forgettable most of Williams’ output was between Mork & Mindy and Good Morning Vietnam.
    He had been famous for more than a decade by then, so it was easy to think that he was a big star that whole time, which really isn’t fully accurate.
    I was a big fan of Mork initially, but by the time Winters joined the show even I was aware that it was sputtering. I don’t think I ever cared whether the story got concluded. What’s Pam Dawber doing? With the backwards aging of the Winters character, they could cast a charming young comedian to play him and tie up the plot as a TV movie.


    • My taste as a kid was highly questionable. I was as invested in Mork and Mindy at the end as I was at the beginning. I didn’t become a discriminating viewer until high school. I am going to attribute it to having been extremely sheltered. Most of true crap wasn’t allowed in our house.

      I’d tune in for a M&M reunion. I’m sure it would be awful, but I’d watch. Pam Dawber = early crush.

      I like Garp pretty well. For whatever reason, Moscow on the Hudson was really well received. But I remember thinking before GMV that Williams’ movie career was fizzling out.


  10. My opinion: Robin Williams was always at his best doing the frenetic, edge of insanity, schizophrenic routine of his. That’s why his stand up was so funny and why he was/is great on talk shows. He doesn’t even really get interviewed on Letterman, Leno, Carson etc.; he just takes over. Funny stuff. Problem is that doesn’t translate into a 90 or 120 minute movie very well. You can’t play that game for two hours and hold an audience. There are only really a couple movies I have enjoyed which include The Fisher King and Good Will Hunting. Both shamelessly tug at the heart strings, but I like them none the less. Mrs. Doubtfire and Night at the Museum? Yeah, decent movies but nothing to write home about. His darker turn in Insomnia was ok, but that movie focused more on Pacino than Williams if memory serves.

    In sum I respect that he’s managed a lengthy career, and I’m glad he’s been successful. Frankly I’ve skipped most of these movies you mentioned and it sounds like I made the right call based on their reviews. Williams has never been one that could draw me to a movie on his name alone. I do enjoy his schtick in small doses though. Na-noo Na-noo!


    • Small doses is key for me. By this point, he’s been doing the same voices and impressions for decades. I tend to find his schtick tiring more often than not.

      However, when I was a kid Williams was a genius. Na-noo Na-noo indeed.


  11. Sitcoms Online Message Boards – Forums > 1970s Sitcoms > Mork & Mindy:

    Several factors.

    Robin Williams is getting older. Too lazy to look, but he is over 60 and from the article had an incredible run of films after the end of Mork and Mindy and I enjoyed a lot of his films over the years. He has had a fantastic career.

    Robin has been married something like three times and has been on and off the recovery road since he was a young man. Robin Williams was really incredible in Mork and Mindy. His ad-libs were so good that the writers basically allowed him to do it. Watching Robin Williams do improvational comedy around 1980 was like watching Michael Jordan play basketball. Supposedly, Robin Williams was on the cocaine at the time, which made his manic performances that much better.

    Mork and Mindy got stale because they ran out of things to do, and I hate to say this, Pam Dawber. I would have fired Dawber and that story and had Mork live by himself, working jobs, and meeting people and maybe travelling. The show really screwed up with Jonathan Winters (as a baby?)!

    This is my opinion, but first run Hollywood films are 99% garbage, and I get tired of seeing the same, old, tired A Listers. The last thing I saw Robin Williams in was some movie called “Old Dogs” with John Travolta.

    Supposedly, Robin Williams is just beloved by everyone in Hollywood except the stand up comics who have accused Robon of stealing jokes.


    • Looking back on “Mork & Mindy”, does anybody else agree that “Mork & Mindy” is one of the best cases of how a second season retool can really hurt a TV show:

      A classic example of messing with success. Mork and Mindy was a smash in Season One, turning Robin Williams into a star. Though it ranked #3 in the ratings, the network couldn’t help meddling. They ditched the supporting cast, which included Conrad Janis as Mindy’s dad, and added deli owner Remo (Jay Thomas). Not sure that was an improvement. Also added was a new focus on a romance between Mork and Mindy. Bleh. As a result of all this retooling (and a new time slot), ratings plummeted. Efforts were made to undo the damage, but it was too late. The show never recovered.


  12. Well, that writer is way off about Pam Dawber. She didn’t hurt Mork and Mindy, quite the opposite. i remember many a young swain back then was totally smitten and tuned in to the show BECAUSE of her! Both she and Robin were white hot at the time but it’s kind of like the Dukes of Hazard, top rated show that people today won’t admit they used to watch religiously.


  13. dead again, Mrs. doubt fire hook, bicentennial man, good will hunting, insomnia, flubber, father’s day, old dogs etc. are the only good films I enjoyed from robin williams


  14. Craig Hansen

    Great write up of his career. Recent choices like RV, Man of the Year and Old Dogs give an impression that he’s not really trying anymore, but looking over his career I gotta admire what he accomplished overall. I too grew up as a kid loving him in Mork and Mindy, but once he left that show he really showed how much talent and range he really has. His biggest comedies, Good Morning Vietnam, Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire, which turned out to be blockbusters, allowed him to ad-lib a fair amount, which he excels at as a comedian. What really impresses me though is his serious dramatic roles, where he reigns in his manic energy. Awakenings and Good Will Hunting are real standouts in his career, and especially One Hour Photo, which I thought was just brilliant. Not sure if you saw it, but its a bit of a shame he wasn’t at least nominated for an Oscar, because it was one if his finest performances.

    I’ve been reading your articles for awhile and finally decided to chime in, you’re doing great, keep it up!


    • Thanks so much. Glad you decided to join in the comments section. This is usually where I have the most fun.

      OHP was pretty great. Plus, Gary Cole. Gary Cole is always awesome.

      For the last 10 years or so, I have been making jokes at Williams’ expense. But after spending some time reviewing his career from start to present, it’s damn impressive. Very few actors have been as successful as Williams at as many different kinds of roles.


      • Craig Hansen

        I’m totally on board with the Gary Cole comment. He’s one of those character actors that I regret didn’t make it to lead actor, because he obviously has talent, and he appeared in a few films that should’ve given him visibility enough to make that leap. Office Space, One Hour Photo, A Simple Plan, heck he was even funny in the Brady Bunch Movie! Sorry, you got me started, ha ha.

        You bring up an interesting point about Williams’ more recent career, though, I thought he was in more of a slump than he actually is. His films have mostly been modest hits on reasonable budgets, I probably got a different opinion before reading your article because movies like RV, License to Wed and Old Dogs look like weak efforts without watching them, and they’re not the types of movies you wind up paying much attention to box-office wise and I just assumed they flopped. I will agree though with a couple of commentators here that Night At The Museum is actually a pretty enjoyable movie, which was a huge success. Williams only has a supporting role in it, but it provided him with a big hit or two on his resume in between the middling efforts. But it is a good, fun popcorn family movie that’ll give a few laughs.


        • Gary Cole is always great. Whenever I see him in a movie regardless of the size of his role, I am excited. He always elevates the material. I think he has the talent to be a leading man. But I think he works best as a character actor. Leading man parts are too restrictive for a guy with Cole’s versatility. I do wish he worked more though.

          I was in the same place as you with regards to Williams’ career. I wasn’t paying attention because the movies he was making no longer appealed to me. I assumed Old Dogs was a flop with audiences as well as critics. But it actually did okay. I think a lot of people considered it a flop because at their peak a pairing of Williams and Travolta would have been expected to crack 100 million. If that is your expectation, Old Dogs was a disappointment. But in relation to budget, Williams’ movies have been more base hits than strike outs.

          As it turns out, The Big Wedding was a flop. But Williams is part of an ensemble there. So no one will take too much blame for that one.

          I am going to have to check out Night at the Museum based on all the positive comments. Like I said, I haven’t been avoiding it. I just haven’t sought it out either. As an Amy Adams fan, I am especially interested in the sequel.


  15. For the record, I’m still a Williams fan. I’ve often wondered how he would’ve played Clouseau in the recent Pink Panther films. Nothing against Steve Martin, but he just didn’t compare with Sellers in that role, but I can’t help but wonder if Williams would’ve fared better.


    • daffystardust

      I really doubt anyone will ever stack up to Sellers in that role. He is Clouseau. Other actors just play at being Clouseau.


    • I have never watched the remakes. Sellers was the Pink Panther movies. I really can’t imagine another actor owning that role. It would be like casting someone else as Austin Powers. What’s the point? Having said that, Martin seems especially unsuited to the role.

      I would like to see Williams aim a little higher. He should seek out projects for more respected directors. He should have a career like Bill Murray has, IMO.


  16. Well, Williams has worked with notable directors such as Weir, Spielberg, Altman, Van Sant and even Coppola. So I’d say that, at least for a time, his career was comparable to Murray’s. Although, as you noted, his recent work hasn’t been exactly the kind of stuff that takes up marquee space.


    • Exactly. I attribute a lot of Williams’ success to the fact he worked with top directors. Although, he tended to work with them on some of their least successful movies. (Hook, Jack, Father’s Day) His most successful movies tended to be for “hack” directors like Chris Columbus.

      He has gone the Murray route to some degree with movies like One Hour Photo and The Final Cut. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been as successful as Murray with identifying hip directors to work with.


  17. On board with all these comments regarding the Panther movies. Sellers was the only Clouseau. I too like Steve Martin but couldn’t watch the remake because it didn’t seem right. Robin Williams would still not have been Clouseau. Sellers was so unique, it is difficult to envision another actor who could have taken that on, and none of the A list comedians except maybe Dan Ackroyd. On second thought.. I’d have gone with a different, maybe lesser known actor such as Peter Coyote or Tom Conti.


    • There are some roles you can recast. James Bond, Batman, I would argue even Indiana Jones. Action characters are bigger than the actors who portray them. But what made the Panther movies work was Sellers. While other actors can do a good job, it won’t be the same. So why bother? Do something new instead.


  18. Craig Hansen

    Having read your earlier articles, I know that you normally just give a brief mention to animated films in an actor’s career, because 9 times out of 10 it really has little to no effect on an actor’s career or momentum, even if it turns out to be a hit/blockbuster. But one of the rare exceptions would be Aladdin. Robin Williams was a big selling point as The Genie, and as Aladdin was actually the highest grossing film of 1992 with $217M domestically, it seemed like the good will from that film gave Williams’ career a good boost in return. Win/Win.

    In retrospect, animated films from the 80′s and early 90′s typically had no-name voice actors, even in the lead roles. Even The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, for example, two huge hits for Disney in ’89 and ’91, featured no A-listers among the cast. After Aladdin, it seems every animated film since then has a cast full of name actors to further help promote the movie (Shrek, Lion King, Toy Story, Kung Fu Panda, Madagacar, Megamind, etc., etc.). I really think that Aladdin’s huge success in ’92, and Robin Williams’ prominent role in it, provided a model for movie studios moving forward with animated films. In that respect, Aladdin was highly influential for future animated films. At least that’s my hunch, at any rate I do love Aladdin, if push came to shove I think it’s probably my favorite comedy film of his, Williams’ performance of The Genie is just gold. He was allowed to ad-lib a lot, but was reigned in just enough by the script to not go off the rails.


    • Agreed. Usually, I will give a passing mention to voice work because it doesn’t have much impact on a career one way or another. It’s usually just a quick paycheck. Like Nicolos Cage in The Croods. That movie was a big hit, but Cage’s career isn’t getting a bump out of it. Williams’ work as the Genie is an exception. It was very high profile and definitely helped his career.

      (Some other exceptions would be Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy for the Shrek films since those movies have basically become their career these days and Tom Hanks and Tim Allen for the Toy Story movies.)

      Sometimes the articles have subplots running through them. I decided to follow Williams’ friendship with Christopher Reeve in this article. And also his on-again off-again relationship with Disney. In many ways, Williams relationship with Disney shaped his career. When their relationship was good, both parties benefitted.

      It’s no wonder Williams has done so much voice work. It’s the perfect medium for his style of comedy. You can just let him go crazy in a recording room for hours on end and then sort through and pick out the best 20 minutes. Then you can create an animated character that matches the wackiness of the recording.


  19. Oh man I’m so glad Williams’ brand of comedy/drama shoving inspiration down your throat is no longer on the market. It’s was some of Hollywood’s worse…


    • It was the “shoving inspiration down your throat” that especially rankled me. I enjoy an uplifting movie as much as the next guy. But if you don’t do it exactly right, you get emotionally manipulative clap trap like Jack, Patch Adams and Jakob the Liar. I would rather see him doing RV and Old Dogs.


  20. 10 Movies That Would’ve Been Better In Different Genres:

    4. Man of The Year

    What We Got: A sub-standard Robin Williams Electoral Politics Satire, with a romantic interest and an election conspiracy plot added in.

    What It Should’ve Been: A Robin Williams Electoral Politics Satire.

    Robin Williams, Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Jeff Goldblum, and even professional shouter Lewis Black star in a Barry Levinson satire about the American Election process, sounds like a winner on paper… alright I think you know the drill by now. This is another one of those movies that could never decide which genre to be, a goofy comedy, a political satire, a conspiracy thriller, the movie seemingly had multiple-personality syndrome. Robin Williams playing a Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert type of comedic pundit, decides that he doesn’t want to just put a comical spin on the news, he wants to make the news. He decides to run as an independent in the coming general election. As with most of the failed Williams vehicles, the filmmakers just don’t give him enough breathing room to work his unique comedic stylings. They add in a dull sub-plot about accidentally rigging the election with Laura Linney’s character, which eventually leads to her becoming a forced romantic interest for Williams’ character. Which takes precious time away from the promising premise of a political satirist getting elected to the highest office in the land, especially when he is played by the manic Williams. A stand-up special featuring Williams taking jabs at the state of current affairs in politics would be more welcomed and entertaining then what ‘Man of the Year’ turned out to be.


    • Interesting. I never did see Man of the Year, and had since forgotten about it, but I would like to check it out. Sounds like it had potential and a good cast. The political satire thing was probably done a bit more effectively in 2012′s The Campaign, with Will Ferrell, but that film also had some weakness with uneven tone in places, and a strange descent into darkness before coming up for air in the end. Critics evidently liked it better than Man of the Year though. I agree with the writer in the excerpt above; let Robin Williams do what he does best throughout the movie.




    The Defendant

    Robin Williams

    The Case

    The Prosecution: The Big Wedding, Old Dogs, RV, License to Wed, Everyone’s Hero, Man of the Year, The Final Cut, The Big White, The Night’s Listener*

    Ladies and gentleman of the jury, while witnessing the pukeyness that is the trailer for The Big Wedding, we were struck at how hit and miss Robin Williams has been for the past few years. It doesn’t help that the film also stars two other Movie Jail defendants, Robert De Niro (found innocent) and Katherine Heigl (found guilty), so Mr. Williams has chosen an odd project with mixed company. He hasn’t done anything really worthwhile or noteworth since 2009′s World’s Greatest Dad and before that you have to go to 2006 where Mr. Williams lent his vocal talents to Happy Feet and played Teddy Roosevelt in Night at the Museum, a movie much better than the critics gave it credit for. The 00′s (oughts?) haven’t been kind to Mr. Williams, or shall we say, Mr. Williams has had some real shit bombs in the last 15 years. And we’re talking about monumental bombs like RV, Old Dogs, License to Wed and Man of the Year. It’s time we slap some cuffs on Mork from Ork, send him to the slammer for a few years of rehabilitation and movie counseling.

    The Defense: World’s Greatest Dad, Happy Feet, Robots, Insomnia, One Hour Photo, A.I., The Birdcage, Hamlet, The Fisher King, August Rush, and on and on and on*

    Ladies and Gentleman of the jury, it is our opinion that Mr. Williams has done far too good to be incarcerated in the confines of Movie Jail. Look at the classic film roles he’s created, not to mention that Mr. Williams went from silly sitcom star to a top of the class dramatic actor. Many have tried to make the crossover, few do, but Mr. Williams has taken on challenging role after challenging role to varying levels of success. Sure, he’s had some stinkers in there, but what other “comedic” actor has been nominated four times for the Academy Award and gone home with one? Mr. Williams is not done by a long shot. The prosecution is going to rue the day they brought this case to the illustrious courtroom of Movie Jail, bank on it. Your Honor, throw out this case, kick the prosecution in the balls and let Mr. Williams walk free.


    So, what’s to be done with Robin Williams? Are the last 15 years of inconsistency enough for a Movie Jail sentence? Has Mr. Williams simply done too many good movies to even be considered for Movie Jail? And the most important question to be asked, once all evidence is taken into consideration, we ask you The Jury, is Robin Williams GUILTY or NOT GUILTY?


  22. i agree that robin williams isn’t done for a long shot. he is one of the greatest comedians ever, and a hell of a good actor. i for one would give anything to have had a career like his, a truly blessed man. love to meet him and see what else is in store for him in the future, regards; a fan


  23. Mrs. Doubtfire STILL on cable every week it seems…


  24. 10 Most Punchable Faces In Hollywood:

    9. Robin Williams

    Robin Williams’ hyperactive blend of physical comedy and non-stop riffing has given him a near 40 year career at this point. From his early beginnings as the lovable alien Mork to his latest incarnation as a Catholic priest in the abortive comedy The Big Wedding (never mind that he played a reverend a few years earlier in an equally unfunny turn in Licence to Wed), Williams’ antics have been hated as much as they’ve entertained. Except he hasn’t been in a good movie in years.

    Look at his output of the last 15 years: Old Dogs, Night at the Museum 1 and 2, Happy Feet 1 and 2, Shrink, Man of the Year, RV: Runaway Vacation, Robots, Death to Smoochy, Patch Adams, the list goes on – they are all utter crap. Couple that with his tired old stand-up routine he did a while back, Weapons of Self Destruction, and it makes you wonder what anyone saw in Williams to start with. Have you gone back to re-watch some of his “classics”, like Mrs Doubtfire or Hook? He’s not good in either! His funniest performance is arguably in Good Will Hunting.

    If you see Robin Williams in the cast of a movie these days you know it’ll be an unfunny and kinda terrifying experience to watch. And if you do end up watching one of his movies, you inevitably want to hit him every time he shows up and riffs his way through a scene. At this point in his career, he’s become a living cartoon of himself.


  25. ” Due to horrible reviews, I haven’t watched Old Dogs”

    I would suggest you ignore reviews. Don’t let other people form your opinions and form your own. You’ll find a ton of movies the so called “critics” didn’t like are really good movies.


    • I do listen to reviews. Honestly, more often than not, the critics are right. I realize this runs contrary to popular opinion. But the masses flock to see bad movies.

      I bristle when people make the argument that reading reviews is allowing someone else to form opinions for you. Having not seen Old Dogs, I have no opinion of it other than this: The marketing materials made it look awful, the people involved haven’t made good movies in a looong time and the critics hated it. Those three factors have me pretty convinced it’s not worth my time.

      Perhaps some day, I will happen to catch Old Dogs. If I do, I will form an actual opinion of the movie at that time. But for now, my opinion is that there are other movies that are more deserving of my two hours.

      I’m in no position to debate the merits of Old Dogs or any other movie I haven’t seen. But there is absolutely nothing about the movie that appeals to me at all. I’m perfectly content with skipping a movie where the primary selling point is a terrified Seth Green singing to an amorous gorilla.


  26. I feel that the “Movie Critic Barometer” can be a useful tool in a variety of ways, not the least of which is, as Lebeau points out, helping decide whether a particular movie is worth watching at the theatre, or on DVD, or cable, or not at all. Sometimes, as a viewer, you know if you are going to be in sync with the critic numbers or you see it anyway and sort of overlap with prevailing critical opinion but have your own take. There is nothing wrong with that. We are all movie critics when we watch movies, it’s just that we don’t all get paid for our opinions. Reading the critics definitely helps me research. Sometimes there are just a few words or phrases in reviews that tip the scales for me. If I like the concept and cast, I don’t give two hoots what the critics say. I own quite a few DVDs of movies that critics didn’t care for. Example there is “Tower Heist” which got negative reviews and which absolutely held me enthralled. Everyone has a movie, or 10 or 20, where you can watch it over and over again while wondering why the critics just didn’t get it!


    • Tower Heist actually got decent reviews. It’s got a 68% approval rating on RT.

      There are plenty of movies where I disagree with the critical consensus. Off the top of my head, most critics didn’t care for Joe Vs. the Volcano, but I really enjoyed it. On the other hand, reviews were glowing for The English Patient, which I thought was a beautifully filmed misfire.

      I watch a lot of movies. I have sat down to watch movies I knew I probably wouldn’t like. I won’t let bad reviews keep me from watching a movie I want to see. But if if a movie I don’t especially want to see gets really good reviews, I will likely give it a look. And if a movie I don’t especially want to see gets really bad reviews, I’m comfortable giving it a pass – as was the case with just about every movie Robin Williams has made in the last 10 years.

      If I had unlimited time, I’d watch every movie. But as I don’t, I need some kind of barometer to decide which movies are worth my time and which ones aren’t. I probably miss some movies that I might have enjoyed. But I avoid a whole lot of bad movies too. It’s a trade off I feel pretty good about.

      Point is, that is not the same thing as letting someone else form an opinion on a movie I haven’t seen. I form my own opinions and only on movies I have seen.



    When’s the last time Robin Williams was the lead in a movie anybody actually watched and enjoyed? Think really hard. You can’t tell me, can you? That’s because Robin Williams hasn’t made anything that anyone has watched in a decade. He’s always been a dude whose movies have run the gamut from Oscar bait to hideously awful, but lately he seems to have forgotten about the Oscar part. The low point for Robin Williams was probably 1999’s Bicentennial Man. It wasn’t the biggest bomb on his less than impressive filmography, but here’s what sets it apart – Robin Williams was paid twenty million dollars for that turd. Twenty million dollars for Bicentennial Man! In the end, the movie never even made back its budget and while Williams has largely been exiled from the land of leading men ever since – and rightly so – he still enjoys a reputation as an A-List star. But here are his last five movies: Happy Feet 2, Old Dogs, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, World’s Greatest Dad and Shrink. I haven’t even heard of a couple of those and I’ve watched exactly zero of the rest. At this point he’s basically Danny DeVito with better press. Actually, that’s not fair to Danny DeVito.


    • The 10 Most Overrated Stand-Up Comedians Of All-Time:

      Robin Williams

      Robin Williams is a great actor and is very funny, but most people don’t know the history of his rise to stardom. As a stand-up Comedian, Williams was one of the worst joke thieves known to man. He would steal material from anyone and everyone. Not just random concepts or ideas then make them his own; we’re talking entire bits word for word. Every comedian in the 70’s and 80’s hated him. It got to the point where when Williams would walk into a club and the comic on stage would be given a signal that Robin is there and would end his set immediately so his material wouldn’t be taken. There have been instances where Ray Romano would perform on Letterman and the very next night Williams would do the exact same bit Romano did, leaving Letterman (whose Worldwide Pants production company produced Everybody Loves Raymond) absolutely shocked. Give Williams credit for being a decent actor, but take all that credit away when it comes to being a comedian. Plus he talks to fast and spouts incoherent babble on stage. Slow down so we can understand you, man.


  28. Desperation? Robin Williams’ Sitcom Peddles Sex in First Episode:

    Has Robin Williams damaged his brand too much to make his return to television in “The Crazy Ones” a success?


    • Are there any sitcoms on TV today that don’t rely on some raunchy humor? This article is trying to create controversy where there is none.

      I had my doubts when I heard Williams was coming back to TV. But I have to admit the commercials for The Crazy Ones make it look like a show I’d like to watch. I’ll be checking out the first episode at least.


      • Robin Williams’ cringe-worthy return to television:

        He actually looks good: a weathered character actor, a pleasing presence. But then, the needy hyper-shtick starts and never stops. The promo is a terrible warning.

        by: Anonymous reply 8 05/17/2013 @ 02:41AM

        Writing comedy FOR Robin Williams has never worked, never will work. His eyes are fabulous for dramatic roles, but that’s it. Funniest man alive when unscripted.

        by: Anonymous reply 9 05/17/2013 @ 03:07AM

        That show is going to flop, I got board just watching the YouTube clip.

        Drugs aside, Robin used to be funny when he was younger. Kind of quick witted rapid fire with a little edge.

        But now, its almost as if he is doing a shtick of himself in the safety zone.

        I am guessing corporate suits had a hand in this failure. “Robin, you cant say things like drugs are fun, lets tone it down until its boring”

        by: Anonymous reply 12 05/17/2013 @ 05:00AM

        He’s not funny when he’s unscripted. He just keeps repeating the same stuff he did during his Live at the Met stand-up back in the ’80s. Seriously, grab yourself a copy of it and hear for yourself. Aladdin, The Bird Cage, especially Good Morning Vietnam all have “ad libs” which are really just repeats of his old stand-up.

        by: Anonymous reply 13 05/17/2013 @ 05:16AM


        • Robin Williams says he is starring on a new TV show because he needs money:

          Robin Williams will reportedly be paid $165,000 per episode for his starring role in CBS’ new comedy “The Crazy Ones”.

          Why Robin Williams Returned to TV: He Needed the Money!

          It’s been almost 30 years since Robin Williams starred on a television series. In that time, he built a successful movie career, earned four Academy Award nominations, and won the golden trophy for his performance in “Good Will Hunting.”

          So why is Williams now returning to the small screen in the new CBS comedy “The Crazy Ones”? Money.

          The 62-year-old actor has been through two divorces, which have depleted his funds. As he told Parade, he needed a steady gig to replenish his fortunes. With big-time movie roles having dried up, Williams could go for smaller gigs and indie movies — but TV paid better.

          “The movies are good, but a lot of times they don’t even have distribution. There are bills to pay,” he said. “My life has downsized, in a good way. I’m selling the ranch up in Napa. I just can’t afford it anymore.”

          He once quipped, “Ah yes, divorce, from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man’s genitals through his wallet.”

          Williams’s two divorces — one from Valerie Velardi in 1988, and the other from Marsha Garces, in 2008 — have reportedly cost him more than $30 million. He told Parade he isn’t quite broke, but he “lost enough.”

          “Divorce is expensive. I used to joke they were going to call it ‘all the money,’ but they changed it to ‘alimony,’” Williams said.

          His split with Garces, after nearly 20 years of marriage, was a particular surprise, as the longtime couple had weathered many ups and downs together. Garces was initially nanny to Williams’s son with Velardi, Zach (now 30), then his assistant. After Williams divorced Velardi, he married Garces in 1989.

          But when Williams, an alcoholic who battled addiction for years, fell off the wagon in 2006, it caused a strain between the couple. Two years later, they filed for divorce.

          Now, Williams is remarried — to graphic designer Susan Schneider — and ready for a new chapter in his career. He spoke in glowing terms of “The Crazy Ones,” which was created by uber-producer David E. Kelley and also stars Sarah Michelle Gellar of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame.

          “It’s fun. I’m having such a blast doing it with Sarah. She’s a sweet woman,” he raved. “And the idea of a father-daughter relationship — since I have a daughter [Zelda, 24], I’ve done the research on that.”


    • Speaking of Robin’s new TV show “The Crazy Ones”, what the hell happened to his co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar:

      The Crazy Ones, CBS’s new comedy about the staff of a once-great advertising agency trying to avoid losing clients and credibility which begins airing tonight at 9PM, will get more attention for being the occasion of Robin Williams’ return to television as former ad genius Simon Roberts, than for anything else. That’s too bad, because it features an endearingly insane turn by James Wolk as Zach Cropper, a loonily promiscuous up-and-coming ad man who’s more than willing to hop into a broadcast booth to record an obscene ode to hamburgers with Kelly Clarkson to get some business. And The Crazy Ones raises a less cheerful question: why can’t television find something great for Sarah Michelle Gellar, who plays Simon’s daughter Sydney, to do?

      It’s not easy to find the next thing to do after you finish an iconic performance, and Buffy Summers, the academically-disoriented blonde who discovered she’d been chosen to become the Slayer, a legendary killer of vampires and other demons, was a doozy. One of the challenges for Gellar of finding work after Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off show Angel ended their runs has to have been that Buffy was deliberately a critique of both genre fiction and the assumptions people make about young, blonde women. The problem with shattering the mold is that it can take time for the culture to build a new one around the work that you’ve done, and in the mean time, you might end up stuck.

      That appears to be exactly what happened to Gellar who, after Buffy, seemed unable to find a career trajectory within the conventional offerings that still largely ruled the culture around her. She tried horror movies, a traditional patch of employment for attractive young blonde women in a way that almost seems like a surrender to pop-culture cliche, playing Karen in The Grudge movies and Joanna Mills in The Return. She did the Scooby-Doo movies with her husband, Freddie Prinze Jr., and was in The Air I Breathe, one of the many People In Disparate Circumstances Tied Together By Fate And Social Forces movies that came out after the success of Crash in 2004. Gellar returned to her roots in soap operas for a stint in All My Children, and like many a nerd icon before her, did voice work for Robot Chicken. But none of this quite added up to a skill set that Gellar was known for, a sort of movie where casting her automatically elevated the material, or a particular sort of chemistry she could bring to a story.

      The two best non-Buffy projects Gellar did came before and after her run on that show, and no one’s quite captured her qualities in them, since. First, she played the villainess in the 1999 adaptation Cruel Intentions, a performance that brought out the cruelty Gellar was capable of, and that was a necessary part of her performance as Buffy as well. And while Buffy, as a character, had a somewhat ambiguous relationship to her sexuality, a relatively natural consequence of experiences that include losing your virginity to a boyfriend who immediately turns incredibly evil, having sexual passion give life to a plant that almost eats a fraternity house, and having a lot of hate-sex with a former nemesis who goes insane and tries to rape you, Kathryn Merteuil was alienated from her sexual self, but in a different way, using sex to harm and control other people, rather than for her own pleasure.

      Seven years later, Gellar’s delightfully weird performance in the uderratedly fascinating mess Southland Tales, a slightly futuristic fable from Richard Kelly, was brilliant in a different way. As Krysta Now, Gellar played a porn star with a highly-honed sense of the new media age, dropping viral singles like “Teen Horniness Is Not A Crime,” hosting a webcast talk show like The View, but with a panel made up entirely of film stars, and cannily planning to sell a reality show based on her life. At the time Kelly made the movie, Krysta’s approach to stardom was nascent in the real world. Today, it’s a well-trod road. But as aggressively as Krysta managed her public life, she was also enmeshed in a strange, tender relationship with Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson), an amnesiac actor whose paranoia is exacerbated by an increasingly invasive media culture, and whose mental health has been eroded partially by his role as the husband to the daughter of a powerful United States Senator. Gellar’s performance is simultaneously crass, tender, and exhausted. In a weird way, it’s as close to being Buffy as she’s ever gotten again.

      If Gellar were a decade and a half younger, she might be starring in The Hunger Games, or the Mortal Instruments franchise, or any of the post-apocalyptic series with surprisingly tough female heroines that owe a debt to Buffy. I’ve written repeatedly before that one of the most exciting things about going to the movies these days is that it’s become entirely possible for girls as young as Chloe Grace Mortez to credential themselves significantly as action stars, just as Gellar did, but unlike Gellar, to expect that work that makes use of their talents will be available to them. When Hailee Steinfeld’s stealing the remake of True Grit, Jennifer Lawrence is going back and forth, repeatedly, between action roles and Oscar bait, and Saoirse Ronan can go from playing a little girl with a typewriter to a trained assassin, it’s encouraging precisely because it suggests that a new generation of actresses aren’t going to face the plight that Gellar did, of proving that they’re tremendously good, credible action actresses, and then having to choose from bad horror or supporting roles that don’t make good use of their talents. Gellar helped pry the door open so younger actresses could have more expansive careers, but it doesn’t seem to have done much to help her.

      I’ve talked a lot about movies here, but Gellar’s two most recent forays into television illustrate exactly how badly her talents have been wasted by the gap between career paths she seems to have fallen into. Ringer, in which she played both halves of a set of twins, each with their own dark secrets, might have made use of some of Gellar’s Buffy skills, but it was strained by a ludicrous premise, incredibly dreadful sets, and weak supporting players for her to riff off. And most of all, it felt grim and lifeless. The gift Buffy gave Gellar wasn’t just the ability to wield a stake with aplomb: it was to let her build a character who felt tremendously alive, who was a goof, and a sweetheart, and careless, and who was completely destroyed when her mother died, and who made bad decisions, and grew from them. Treating Gellar as if she’s merely strained and desperate flattens her.

      And the pilot of The Crazy Ones suggests that the show risks doing the same thing to her again. Making anyone the straight man to Robin Williams is a punishing assignment. But as Sydney, Gellar looks desperate and sad all episode, whether she’s trying to get kids trying out for a cookie commercial to react according to the script, explaining to her father that their business is in dire trouble, or belting out a song in a crowded restaurant for Kelly Clarkson’s amusement, debasing herself for the sake of her business. Gellar looks strained and tired, and she’s the person in the pilot with the fewest jokes. There’s no question that Gellar can be an excellent dramatic actress–she’s one of the few people really elevated by working with Joss Whedon, who has a decidedly odd track record–but she’s more than that, too. It’s incredibly sad to me to see a show treat Gellar the way the industry as a whole seems to have treated her, treating her as if she’s used up because she didn’t fit any easy trajectory, rather than being inspired by her particular combination of talents.


      • Anyone feel that SMG fell out fo the public light because she chose to?


        Sun Jul 28 2013 21:18:38

        I think she definitely, definitely had, and still has, the talent, as well as the charisma and beauty to do most anything she wants. However, aside from it being her own choice, a big factor to her becoming removed from the spotlight was also her project choices. She chose some really bad movies/roles that, no matter how good she was in them, they were never going to succeed or bring her many other better opportunities. As much as I LOVED Veronika Decides to Die (definitely consider it one of my favorites), it was so poorly marketed/distributed. It was never released in theaters (at least in the US, don’t know about elsewhere) and was sooo hard to find on DVD. A lot of people don’t even know about it. And that was one of the BETTER movies of the latter part of her career. The others were either not very good and/or did not get enough exposure.

        Sun Jul 28 2013 21:36:54

        She has the talent to still become a big star but after Buffy she really just had bad luck. And her being away from the spotlight in the beginning was not her choice from 2007-2009 she had films that nobody bothered to see. Then she took a break when she had charlotte then the next year went right back to work so sadly it was never by choice the way I see it but again she has a lot more talent than other actors that are huge today and she proves she can still get work.

        Mon Jul 29 2013 08:05:54

        She might not have had the best choices at the time, of what films that were being offered, but she chose to do those films. That is part of being a movie star, the choices that they make are crucial, especially a female actor, who will not get as many chances to play quality roles.

        Mon Jul 29 2013 11:26:30

        As someone who is major Buffy fan, and like Sarah a lot in that particular role. I don’t believe it was an active choice for her career to go the way it did. I think it’s great after the disaster that was ringer and decade no budget/direct to dvd films. I don’t think it was family reasons, her career fell of a long time before either of children were born. There were maybe two years after Buffy she got work in successful, but lower calibre films such as The Grudge and Scooby Doo, but that still peter off to direct to DVD films (I have heard many examples as to films like Suburban Girl, The Air That I Breathe, VDTD, Posession and more should have gone to cinemas and gotten international releases but they didn’t.

        I can believe that family comes first, but that certainly didn’t mean she wanted her career to die. Jodie Foster and Angelina Jolie do one film a year and still get an excellent choice of roles. There is no evidence what so ever to suggest she was ever on that level, in terms of talent, and more importantly supply and demand. Had sarah ever been in demand as actress, she would not have done the projects she had. In addition to Ringer, she has had two failed pilots, one of which had HBO commissioned Charlotte would have been a small baby. I think it’s great she is back on the small screen, after the a decade since Buffy finished I never would have though it would have happened. If nothing else, She had a great cult show and season of ringer and some decent horror flicks it more than most actors ever get, in that respect she has been successful. But as an actress, she has never had the most charismatic screen presence, nor is she particularly versatile, not necessarily a bad thing, but there is no evidence to suggest that her misfortune is due to bad luck or timing. She made the best choices she could for the offers she had.

        Fri Aug 2 2013 10:30:02

        Whenever someone’s career doesn’t really pan out people always say it’s because they chose to exit from the spotlight themselves. Face it, Sarah Michelle Gellar left Buffy thinking she was on her way to having a big film career. Her two hit films – Scooby Doo and The Grudge – weren’t hits because of her. She got lucky with those. Scooby Doo was a hit because it’s a live action spin off film of the hugely popular cartoon. The Grudge was a hit because it was following the then popular trend of remaking Japanese films. All the other films she’s been a part of as the lead have bombed.

        Sarah Michelle Gellar is a TV actress. She will never be a film star. Even as a fan of Buffy I have to admit that some of her acting on the show was questionable. I doubt she will ever escape the shadow of Buffy Summers.

        Fri Aug 2 2013 20:44:01

        This post is very long so please bear with me.

        As much as I am a big fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar, the only time she chose to be out of the spotlight was during her two pregnancies. Like others have said, after Buffy ended, it was assumed by her fans (myself included) and a lot of people in Hollywood that Sarah Michelle Gellar was on her way to a big film career.

        Buffy ended in May of 2003 and she was hardly seen much during that year (with exception of her appearance at the 2003 Teen Choice Awards) because she was filming Scooby Doo 2 and The Grudge almost consecutively. Some could argue that Scooby Doo 2 was hit because of Sarah but The Grudge was a hit because it was a horror movie released during the Halloween Season, Sarah being the star was just a bonus for some people. Until recently, 2004 was really the last time Sarah was truly relevant in Hollywood because from 2005 to 2010, her star power really took a major hit.

        In my opinion, one of the mistakes she made during this period was doing The Return and the cameo for The Grudge 2 because it further type-casted her in the horror genre. Southland Tales was suppose to be the movie to take Sarah’s film career to the next level and there was quite a bit of buzz about it going into 2006. Some people at this very board (admittedly myself included since I first joined IMDb that year) were saying that Sarah would be nominated for many awards because of Southland Tales. And then it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2006 where the reviews were really bad. Even though Southland Tales was gamble that didn’t pay off for Sarah, I at least give her props for taking a risk.

        After Southland Tales, almost all her movies went straight to DVD. The Air I Breathe, another movie that people on this board were buzzing about Sarah getting nominated for awards, was a limited-release that also got bad reviews although some critics praised Sarah’s performance. In my opinion, the failure of The Air I Breathe so far has effectively ended Sarah Michelle Gellar’s film career.

        A year later, Sarah shot the HBO pilot The Wonderful Maladys but HBO passed on the pilot. Not too long after, Sarah became pregnant for the first time and gave birth to her daughter in the fall of 2009. While I’m assuming her personal life was at an all-time high, Sarah’s career was at a crossroads.

        It seemed like she was making a big comeback with Ringer in 2011 but that show would eventually be cancelled and, to be fair, the show was never a hit with most critics or in the ratings even for a small network like The CW. After Ringer was cancelled, Sarah became pregnant for the second time and gave birth to her son in the fall of 2012.

        Now Sarah is going to try again with The Crazy Ones which, in my opinion, not only does this show have a lot more promise than Ringer did but the whole show is not on her shoulders since the primary star of the show is Robin Williams. Hopefully this show is a hit and puts Sarah back on top.


      • What happened to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s career?



        I think a lot of people have a hard time seeing Sarah Michelle Gellar as anyone but Buffy Summers. James Van Der Beek has suffered the same problem since Dawson’s Creek ended a decade ago. I’m a fan of Buffy but even I’ll admit that Sarah was far from being the best actor on the show, she has a limited range that can often feel forced. She left Buffy with her sights set on the big screen and I think she probably thought that playing such an iconic television character was going to be enough to secure a successful movie career once the show had ended. Her two big hit films – Scooby Doo and The Grudge – weren’t really hits because of her, she got lucky with those. Scooby Doo was a hit because it’s a live action spin off film of the hugely popular cartoon. The Grudge was a hit because it was following the then popular trend of remaking Japanese films. She was probably part of the appeal of Cruel Intentions and I Know What You Did Last Summer but both of those were released at a time when teen films were making a big comeback at the box office. All the other films she’s been a part of as the main lead role have either bombed or gone straight to DVD. She also turned down quite a few roles in well-received and popular films due to either not being interested or scheduling difficulties.

        She does have the upcoming TV series The Crazy Ones, though the appeal for a lot of people is going to be Robin Williams more than anyone.


        1) She wasn’t THAT good. I really really like her, but Naomi Watts quality? Please. And I don’t even rate Naomi massively but she’s clearly got more range.

        2) Well when was she ever BIG big? We aren’t talking Demi Moore levels of movie roles, then falling off the face of the planet.

        3) As said she had hits in younger or teen orientated films – literally nothing else. Not a problem at all but doesn’t cut it at 36. That said, sticking with horror would have been fine and she certainly tried, but every choice was a bad one. Not her fault.

        Has anyone seen The Return? Quite possibly the most boring film of all time, and when you’ve paid to see it at the cinema, it’s just shocking how dreary it is. Of course it bombed. Should’ve been straight to DVD and clearly many of her stuff evidently is. Some sound interesting and she’s had a good response in (Veronika Decides To Die, though I’ve not seen it) but the more flop films you’re in, the less likely you are to get the roles, and coupled with the age thing in that she never managed to transcend the teen films successfully, it’s no wonder she went back to TV – which is no bad thing.

        However, she is AMAZING in Cruel Intentions, though it hardly requires top notch acting, but she fit the role perfectly, and likewise in “I Know What You Did Last Summer” where she also for me still has the best death scene (because it’s so drawn out and you’re willing her to survive) in any slasher film.

        So yeah, I’m very fond, but it’s easy to see how she’s barely seen now.


      • ‘Ringer’: What went wrong with Sarah Michelle Gellar’s TV comeback:

        The storylines were too convoluted

        What originally seemed like a fun hook — Sarah Michelle Gellar…as twins! — soon became emblematic of the show’s problems. Who’s good? Who’s bad? Who’s playing? Who’s being played? The twist-heavy drama kept those questions constantly in flux within a flashback/flashforward structure nearly as convoluted as “Damages” — without the top level writing, directing and acting.

        The FBI, the mob, European bankers, reappearances of characters presumed dead, Ponzi schemes, a psycho ex-wife, inappropriate teacher/student relationships, fake pregnancies, real pregnancies and more…

        That’s all well and good in a typical soap opera, but what about one in which two of the main characters look exactly alike and frequently pretend to be each other? Is that “good twin” Bridget pretending to be “bad twin” Siobhan, or vice versa? Is Bridget just Bridget now? Is Siobhan, Siobhan? With so much going on, and so little of it making any sense, does it even matter?

        It aired on the CW

        Originally developed for CBS, “Ringer” was ceremoniously relocated to the baby sister network when it became clear CBS wouldn’t have a place for it on the schedule. While a heavily serialized show like “Ringer” would probably die a quick death on procedural-obsessed CBS, the relatively “mature” drama of “Ringer” never felt completely at home on CW either.

        Though it provided CW with a promotable star in Gellar, the adult-oriented show didn’t exactly click with the network’s brand of youthful sex appeal as defined by “Vampire Diaries” and “Gossip Girl.” While “Ringer” is actually outperforming the flailing “Gossip,” it’s still failing to keep pace with mid-level CW performers like “90210″ (its lead-in) and the dearly departed “One Tree Hill.” Surely the CW expected better than that from a name star.

        Gellar didn’t have the support she deserved

        Yes, she was supposed to be the draw, but “Ringer” largely failed to surround Gellar with characters — and actors — worth bouncing off of. Her two most talented castmates were crippled by poor story choices. “Fantastic Four” star Ioan Gruffudd was cuckolded as Siobhan’s clueless husband Andrew Martin, who never seemed to grow suspicious of any of the numerous people plotting against him in his professional and personal life. (I’m still hoping the show pulls a final twist revealing that Andrew has been controlling everything all along. It wouldn’t make sense, but it would be hilarious.)

        Nestor Carbonell, who signed on to the show fresh off of playing Richard Alpert on “Lost,” was mostly sidelined or squandered as determined FBI Agent Victor Machado. He never really held love interest potential for either Bridget or Siobhan, so the soapy show didn’t really know what to do with him. (It’s easier to imagine the role expanded on the original CBS version of the show, where a detective would come in handy on a weekly basis.)

        The less said about co-stars Kristoffer Polaha as Siobhan’s smarmy lover Henry and Mike Colter as Bridget’s dull NA sponsor Malcolm, the better. And the show barely bothered to introduce significant female support aside from Siobahn’s irksome stepdaughter Juliet (Zoey Deutch), a post-pilot addition likely meant to placate the CW’s target audience.

        Tara Summers demonstrated some spunk as Siobahn’s best friend Gemma, but her tenure was short-lived. A promising mid-season guest spot from Mädchen Amick went nowhere.

        It wasn’t until the show introduced “Rescue Me’s” Andrea Roth as Andrew’s mentally unbalanced ex-wife Catherine in episode 12 that Gellar found a true equal/foil. The writers enjoyed the character so much they kept using Catherine as the default “surprise!” culprit for whatever scheme they’d cooked up that week. The twists grew predictable, and claustrophobic, but Roth was always game. Sadly, it appears Catherine was busted for good in the penultimate episode.

        The “Revenge” factor

        When “Ringer” premiered, launching a big splashy nighttime soap on network television still sounded like a Sisyphean task. The only show to truly crack the code in recent years was “Desperate Housewives,” which mixed elements of sit-com and satire into the traditional soap.

        Unfortunately for “Ringer,” ABC was about to give the primetime soap another more straightforward shot with the twisty Hamptons-set thriller “Revenge.” And somehow “Revenge” clicked. It wasn’t a mega-hit, but it was a solid performer from the start. Suddenly all the TV fan sites and entertainment magazines that might have been sympathetic to “Ringer” were full on obsessed with “Revenge.”

        It’s probably not a coincidence that “Revenge” avoided the other traps that plagued “Ringer” and found a way to maneuver its attractive, expansive cast through cleanly conceived and tightly executed plots while remaining unquestionably on brand for its network.

        It just wasn’t good enough

        And here’s the bottom line on “Ringer” and the inescapable disappointment of Gellar’s return to TV: It was never very good. Even at its guilty pleasure best — like the penultimate episode which balanced Catherine’s complete unraveling with a flat out ridonkulous subplot that found Siobahn going into labor in a closet while a Russian call girl overdosed on cocaine in bed with a client just a few feet away — there were still too many flaws to believe the writers really understood what they were doing. (Check out executive producer Pam Veasey’s interview with TVGuide.com for more on exactly what the writers thought they were doing.)

        Gellar isn’t just any actress. She’s Buffy Summers. During those initial promotional rounds for “Ringer,” Gellar told multiple sources that she didn’t feel any special pressure to succeed on TV. She already had “Buffy” and an experience like that can never be duplicated.

        If that’s really true then I guess she made a solid choice in “Ringer.” It never even came close


        • They Didn’t Quite Make It Big, But Made Good Nevertheless: 15 Actors Who Barely Missed The A-List:

          Speaking of vampires, Sarah Michelle Gellar became a breakout TV star thanks to her lead performance on the cult TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. During its seven season run the actress took lead roles in horror films like I Know What You Did Last Summer and the hit live-action version of Scooby Doo. Buffy ended in 2003 and the actress seemed to be mostly typecast in the horror genre, taking lead roles in films like The Grudge and The Return. The last part of the 2000s saw Gellar doing mostly voice work in films like TMNT and Happily Never After, fading from the mainstream spotlight. She attempted a return to television in 2011 with the CW series The Ringer, but the show was canceled after one season.


          • 9 TV Stars Who Horribly Botched Their Big Leap Into Films:

            Sarah Michelle Gellar

            Sarah Michelle Gellar hit the jackpot when she was cast in the lead role of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a cult favourite television series created by Joss Whedon than ran for seven seasons. While she was on the series she also starred in a few popular teen movies like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream 2, and Cruel Intentions and had a pair of family hits with Scooby-Doo and its sequel. Since Gellar’s next post-Buffy role was the hit horror movie The Grudge, it seemed like she would be poised for future film stardom based on her massive Buffy fanbase.

            However, the sequel to The Grudge did a fraction of the box office of the first, and Gellar has yet to appear in a successful film since. In fact, her 2007 movie Southland Tales and 2008 movie The Air I Breathe grossed just over $300,000 combined and her following films, Possession and Veronika Decides to Die, were not even released to theatres in the U.S.

            Gellar’s only success since was voicing a supporting role in the animated movie TMNT. Gellar has since returned to television with The Crazy Ones, but it has yet to be seen whether the series will make it to a second season.


  29. “People complain frequently that Williams isn’t funny any more. His recent movies make you wonder if he was ever really funny to begin with.”

    I was one of those, but I have to admit that reading this article reminded me of how great Wiliams was during his first two decades.

    But “Death to Smoochy” was the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life.


    • I’m glad the article reminded you of the good old days when Williams was funny. Sometimes, I still question that one. Was he actually funny or were we as a nation collectively bamboozled by his fast talking. These are the things that keep me up at night.

      I really wanted to like Death to Smoochy. I liked DeVito’s previous black comedies. But that one was a misfire.


      • I’d say with Williams it’s a little from column A and a little from column B. When his material is strong, the fast talking creates a brilliant cascade of comedy. But how long can any comic keep coming up with that sheer volume of material. Sometime in the early 90s, Williams stopped trying and just fell back on his delivery. There just wasn’t that much actual material anymore, but because we expected to laugh when he talked most of us just kept laughing anyway.
        He has real talent when it is shaped appropriately.


        • That’s true and a good way to look at it. But even when I go back and watch Williams’ old stand-up before he started relying on his delivery. There aren’t a lot of punchlines. Just funny voices at breakneck speeds. A lot of it did age very well.


  30. One quick correction: Barry Levinson did not direct RV (my pick for worst film of 2006), Barry Sonnenfeld (Get Shorty, the Men In Black movies and the atrocious Wild Wild West) did.

    As far as Williams goes, his attempts at re-invention were successful. But he never really got into a groove like Bill Murray did.Indeed, once he re-invented himself three or four times, he seemed to have nowhere else to go.


  31. CBS has renewed most of its shows,but the Crazy Ones could be on thin ice………..



  32. Craig Hansen

    Well, CBS just cancelled The Crazy Ones after only one season. I’ve liked Robin Williams over the years so I gave the show a chance when it first aired by watching the first episode and found it to be just merely decent. That’s not enough to keep me watching. Apparently that’s what most people thought of the show which is why CBS gave the show the axe.


    • Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s single-camera “The Crazy Ones” never fit in on CBS, home to many multi-camera comedies:


    • I think that was the consensus. I think Williams did his job by delivering big ratings early on. If the show had been better, it would have been a big hit. I was surprised by the initial demand to see Williams back on TV frankly. I didn’t think he had that much star power left. I don’t really blame him for the show’s failure.


      • Craig Hansen

        You bring up a good point Lebeau. As I recall, Crazy Ones had great ratings out of the gate in the first couple weeks. The ratiings plummeted after that, if only the show had been a lot better then it would’ve remained a hit Top 10 show, regardless Robin Williams showed out of the gate that yes he can still be a strong draw. If he finds better material and tries tv again in a couple years, he could have a hit series again.


        • With the right material, I think so. But that is always the hard part. A good show is hard to find. If he lands on one, he should pull in an audience and it should be a hit.


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