Nancy's Notes: Laughing With Robin (October 3, 2006)

I think his co-star Laura Linney said it best, “I’ve never seen anybody make so many people happy. I used to love to watch him walk into a room or go to dinner with him and look at the faces of everyone else in the room.”

She is talking about Robin Williams and I couldn’t agree with her more. I met up with Robin on Friday to talk about his new movie “Man of the Year”. It is always a treat to interview Robin…except for the stomach cramps you have afterwards from laughing so much!

The first thing Robin always says to me when I see him is “How are your parents?”.

Several years ago, when my parents were visiting from S.C., I took them to an interview with Robin. He acted genuinely pleased to meet them and then kept referring to them throughout the interview in his hilarious, fun Robin-way. Of course, it completely made my parents’ day and they haven’t stopped smiling about it since. And EVERY time I see Robin now, he always remembers to check in with the folks by asking me how they are.

My point to all this is to tell you about the caring, genuine person I have seen Robin Williams to be. And I thought this even more so when I was told by my producer before the interview that, according to Robin’s people, he WANTED to address his recent stint I rehab. After being sober for 20 years, Robin found himself drinking again and decided to take action. He was very public in announcing that he was going back into rehab.

When I heard Robin wanted to address his recent bout with alcoholism, I wasn’t surprised. I figured he thought in some way he could help others, maybe it was to make someone who is going through a similar situation smile, maybe he wanted to show that we are all human or that the right thing to do is to get help before it gets out of control…and, most importantly, I knew he could handle it.

And he did address it, answering every question I asked by giving a serious answer first and then ending with something so hilarious you have to wonder if the cameraman got a steady shot from his laughing so much. For example, this simple exchange:

Nancy: You were sober for twenty years… Robin: I wasNancy: Yeah, what happened?Robin : I drank Nancy: Did you realize… Robin: Yeah, I realized, yeah, you keep going with this, you’ll wake up in a field with a small animal.

It was a great interview on all subjects. But then to my disappointment, I heard that his publicist thought we pushed a little too much asking too many questions about his rehab compared to the “other shows”. Asking pertinent questions is something I take great pride in when it comes to Access Hollywood, especially having been in hard news for 8 years before Access.

We don’t make “deals” to ask or not ask certain questions. If it is something that is currently in the news, we are going to ask. Now Robin’s publicist is a very good one, someone I respect, and not a publicist who overreacts. But I do think Robin wasn’t given enough credit on this one. I asked a lot of questions about his movie, of course, and as far as the rehab…of all people, Robin is a pro in an interview. He will answer any question and after he feels he has revealed enough of what he is comfortable with, he easily turns it into something funny. NO ONE is better at this than Robin! He handles himself beyond the definition of “beautifully” in an interview.

The question I ended the interview with was “Do you ever want to just turn it all off, be quiet by yourself and not be funny?” And he answered yes, giving an example of some random woman who came up to him in the airport and demanded “Be zany!” Well you know what, Robin, you don’t have to be zany all the time (although we do love it), you can be human too…so talk about it!

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