Tuesday, December 06, 2011

My interview with Robin Williams (2011)


Revel in the genius of Robin Williams
By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) Updated November 25, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (1) View comments


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The very energetic Robin returns as Ramon and Lovelace in Warner Bros.’ Happy Feet 2
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MANILA, Philippines - How can you tell you are at the Happy Feet 2 junket? Simple, you have funnyman Robin Williams providing an impromptu comic performance for the press  and it’s free of charge.

It’s been ages since the comedian has performed a stand-up routine. This writer and the other international journalists during the movie’s press conference at theBeverly Hilton a couple of weeks ago were among the few lucky ones who experienced the actor’s funny antics and off-the-cuff humor for nearly 40 minutes.

If only this writer can transfer to paper all of the actor’s jokes, fans of the comedian would surely be thanking me until Christmas. But I couldn’t. I could let in a few, perhaps, but not entirely. I don’t have copyright clearance, if you must know. I was trying to make a joke there and, I know, I wasn’t funny. Let’s leave the jokes to Robin then, shall we?

Here’s a sample of how funny the actor can get.

Setup — He saw an iPhone (which also doubles as a voice recorder) placed in front of him and he immediately picked it up and had the following imaginary exchange with Siri, the latest software featured in the current iPhone release.

Robin: Siri, where’s a good restaurant in Paris?

Siri: I’m sorry, Robin. I am not able to get the full locations in France.

Robin: Siri, why?

Siri: I can’t answer that question, Robin, legally.

The very energetic Robin returns as Ramon and Lovelace in Warner Bros.’ Happy Feet 2, the highly-anticipated sequel to the 2006 Oscar-winning and box-office hit animated movie. The sequel also features the voice of Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood, who is back as Mumble. Hank Azaria, who provides the voice for The Mighty Sven, the penguin who can fly, and Grammy-winner Common, who provides the voice for Seymour, the leader of a new penguin colony, are the new additions to the stellar voice cast along with Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Sofia Vergara and pop music superstar Pink (billed in the movie as Alecia Beth Moore.)

Elijah, Common and Hank were also at the junket along with director George Miller and they were just as captivated by Robin’s funny antics as we were.

The Oscar-winning actor is so witty he could turn any simple, innocent questions into something crazy, irreverent and just damn madly hilarious.

Asked what he thinks of the latest 3D technology craze, which was used to great success in Happy Feet 2 (the underwater scenes featuring the krill swarm are mighty impressive!), Robin quipped: “One thing I don’t want to see in 3D is porn!”

“I think that would like, ‘Whoa! Put it away!’” he exclaimed. “I mean the technology is extraordinary but I’ve seen a good 3D and an okay 3D. When I saw Avatar in 3D, it was so vivid because of the whole world, that’s why it was so expensive because of the details.”
Elijah Wood is also making a comeback as Mumble

Happy Feet 2 reportedly cost $120M to make because of the state-of-art 3D technology employed during production.

“The shots in this movie, under water, having dived off the coast of Australia — it’s created an immersive experience,” he added. “I’ve talked to a lot of people and children who have been to the screenings of this movie and they were all like this, (Robin paused and formed a delighted expression on his face), in awe, which is a wonderful thing. The technology is increasing on a daily basis. Once you write the program, someone builds up the next program.”

Robin recalled that when he did the effects-laden Jumanji some 15 years ago, “one of the hardest programs to write was the monkey because of the hair and I am going, ‘Wow, I’ll be working for a while!’” he joked.

But he was wrong. Peter Jackson would revolutionize the motion-capture technique in only five short years and in 2001, Lord of the Rings changed the whole ballgame.

The actor referred to a conversation he had with a fellow actor recently about Andy Serkis’ (the actor who played Gollum in the LOTR trilogy) performance in this year’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, “It’s one of the most vivid characters I’ve seen in film in recent history,” he said, “and that’s done with CG but with a person behind it, driving it, which is a wonderful combination of technology and humanity. Even though it’s an ape, he gives it such depth and it’s just powerful.”

“That thing that Copolla said years ago at the Academy Awards, ‘the technology will always need great storytelling to work together’ — that’s happening and it is driven by directors who know the technology… and I am just in awe. I just become a child sometimes watching these movies,” the actor further added.                

One journalist asked Robin what among the movies he’s done so far would he like to see on 3D and he quickly replied, “None so far,” before getting into another series of bellyaching jokes.

“I don’t know. I think Birdcage in 3D will just be gayer,” he said before standing up and doing a routine from the movie. Later he would joke: “Michelle Bachman’s husband, come out! Come out, Mr. Bachman, come out! Join us!”

The room was filled with laughter when he was doing this and his co-stars, especially Hank filled Robin in with materials by suggesting movie titles.

“Awakenings in 3D would be good,” Hank suggested, referring to Robin’s 1991 Oscar-nominated movie with Robert de Niro about a man who woke up from years of catatonia.

“Oh my god,” Robin reacted by acting all stiff and said, “that is like the attack of the giant snails!”

“There’s one French guy going, ‘You could make a movie like that, it will be called The Fabulous Killer Snails and it will be eight hours long… and they come and they put salt on you while you sleep.’”

It was one of the most enjoyable interviews this writer ever had and if only I could share my recording of the entire interview, all you readers can also revel in the genius of the man.

(Happy Feet 2 is now showing in theaters.)

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