Robin Williams has been seen as an adult-sized child. Many loved it when he provided the voice of the playful and hilarious genie in Aladdin. He’s been admired as Mork, Patch, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Peter Pan. We all know he’s quite humorous and can even play a creepy freak that is stalking a family through their photos. But what else do we know about the overly hairy actor that we don’t get to see on the big screen or on his DVD releases? How much more is there to the funny man that can make us laugh with a facial expression just as much as with a script? James Lipton aimed to find out.
On January 29, 2001, Robin Williams “bounded” onto the stage with James Lipton to discuss his career for over five hours. Not only was he sitting in the chair and talking, but he was all over the stage and took control of the interview with no problem from Lipton. Williams discussed every single thing about his life and career making it one of the funniest and most heart-warming episodes in the show’s history. Lipton lets us know that this was the first ever two-hour episode because the Bravo Network said they couldn’t cut down the five hours of interview to just one. The night was even so amusing and enjoyable that one audience member “busted a gut” due to laughing so hard and needed to be taken away in an ambulance with a hernia. For countless years he has been making us laugh and cry in the films so it was now time to see him in all his glory as not a character, but Robin Williams.
If you aren’t familiar with Inside The Actors Studio, then I’ll quickly catch you up to speed. Host James Lipton sits on stage in front of a live studio audience and interviews the greatest actors and actresses of our times and those before them. He asks great and intelligent questions while always throwing in some of his favorite like “What is your favorite curse word?” This night we’d see a comedy master in Robin Williams step onto the stage and entertain like never before. From the moment he steps on stage, Williams had the audience in stitches and had Lipton at a total loss because he couldn’t even attempt to ask a question through the laughter. That is one of the things that I love about Williams. He never seems to go too far as numerous comedians do. His humor is genuine, sincere, realistic, and absolutely hilarious. You’ll never hear the audience give polite laughter or just calm giggles, but it is always boisterous outbursts.
Williams shares everything about him beginning with his birth in Chicago, Illinois and leading up to the “legalized insanity” he goes through today in everyday life. He discusses his parents, childhood, schooling, early career, stand-up, classical work, and then heads into Mork from Mork & Mindy before becoming a full-blown star. It’s amazing to see how this normal little child developed into this budding star and then into a brilliant actor that can do anything and everything he wants. That includes past addictions to drugs that made life very hard for him. As time went on though, he knew that there were things about his life he needed to change or else he wouldn’t be able to do the other things in his existence that he dreamed of doing.
Interviews with entertainers I could usually care less about. All they do is tell us things about their everyday life that don’t interest me and goes against everything I believe in. I really don’t give a damn how they live when they are at home with their spouses or children. No-one should because that is their life and I wouldn’t want them interfering in mine. But those that I admire, such as Williams, it’s great learning how they got to where they are at today. Making things even better is Lipton who knows the perfect questions to ask and just has a great back and forth report with whoever sits across from him. This episode showcases one of the greatest actors from the past three decades and he’ll surely be around for many more. It’s wonderful knowing how someone I’ve seen on the screen so many times, got to where they are in life today. And it doesn’t hurt laughing hysterically along the way either.
The film is shown in 1.33:1 Full Screen format and it is more then adequate for the show’s concept.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Sound and it also does more then a good enough job to hear all the questions, answers, and humor spewing from Williams.
Great Moments That Didn’t Make The Cut – Ten deleted scenes that are really quite funny and should have simply been left in for the DVD release. They range from how Williams creates characters to those he played in Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire. Williams also discusses how important family is and how one must love what they do to enjoy life. Good stuff.
Trailers – Inside The Actors Studio: Icons, Inside The Actors Studio: Dave Chappelle, and Fired!
From a DVD standpoint, it’s quite hard to recommend this for anyone to purchase. There are barely any special features and you’re merely getting about two hours worth of total footage. But I’ll argue this from a quality standpoint because it is well worth your time and the very low price tag you’ll find on it which is usually $12.99 or lower. Listening to Robin Williams in films is one thing because you are hearing him deliver scripts written for him that he is making into his own. Here you will hear everything in his own words and it is his life in detail. Even though the jokes are constantly there and the laughter is always surrounding him, Williams still does a fantastic job of spilling his guts and telling his story from beginning to present time. I watched the DVD entirely through one time and decided to have it on again as I wrote this review. It was rather difficult getting this done in any type of timely manner because of taking time out to look at the television again and also my sides aching from laughing so hard. Robin Williams is a man that I admire as an entertainer and as a person. He has admitted to his demons and while I don’t approve of all those he had, I admire him for working against them. But as strictly an entertainer, you can’t help but love something he has done and this DVD shows everything he has done and can do.
Shout! Factory presents Inside The Actor’s Studio: Robin Williams. Directed by: Jeff Wurtz. Starring: James Lipton, Robin Williams. Running time: 99 minutes. Rating: PG. Released on DVD: September 16, 2008. Available at Amazon