Robin Williams on his return to TV: ‘There are bills to pay… divorce is expensive’

Robin Williams covers this week’s issue of Parade Magazine. He’s promoting his new TV series on CBS called The Crazy Ones. It looks bad, you guys. Like, really bad. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays his daughter, and they’re a father-daughter ad agency. The show was created by David E. Kelley, so it might be okay-ish, but I don’t know what to expect considering the commercials made it seem… bad. Here’s a behind-the-scenes:

That’s painfully uncomfortable, right? Maybe it will be okay. I hope they find an audience, because Robin makes it sound like he really needs the money. I guarantee that this Parade interview is much more interesting than his terrible TV show:

On what it’s like being back on TV: “It’s fun. I’m having such a blast doing it with Sarah. She’s a sweet woman. And the idea of a father-daughter relationship—since I have a daughter, I’ve done the research on that.”

On why this was the right time to return after 31 years: “The idea of having a steady job is appealing. I have two [other] choices: go on the road doing stand-up, or do small, independent movies working almost for scale [minimum union pay]. The movies are good, but a lot of times they don’t even have distribution. There are bills to pay. My life has downsized, in a good way. I’m selling the ranch up in Napa. I just can’t afford it anymore.”

On whether he lost all his money in his two divorces: “Well, not all. Lost enough. Divorce is expensive. I used to joke they were going to call it ‘all the money,’ but they changed it to ‘alimony.’ It’s ripping your heart out through your wallet. Are things good with my exes? Yes. But do I need that lifestyle? No.”

On whether he felt betrayed by Lance Armstrong, who had been a friend: “It wasn’t just Lance. [Most of the] team was doping. I haven’t seen him since one of the last Livestrong benefits, I think just before the Oprah interview. It was literally like a wake for someone who was still alive, this overall feeling that the dream was over.”

On relapsing into drinking, 20 years after getting sober, while filming The Big White: “One day I walked into a store and saw a little bottle of Jack Daniel’s. And then that voice—I call it the ‘lower power’—goes, ‘Hey. Just a taste. Just one.’ I drank it, and there was that brief moment of ‘Oh, I’m okay!’ But it escalated so quickly. Within a week I was buying so many bottles I sounded like a wind chime walking down the street. I knew it was really bad one Thanksgiving when I was so drunk they had to take me upstairs.”

On his family intervening to get him into rehab in 2006: “It was not an intervention so much as an ultimatum. Everyone kind of said, ‘You’ve got to do this.’ And I went, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’”

On why he’s done USO tours for our troops: “I do those because it’s like the real version of Good Morning, Vietnam, meeting people and seeing what I can do to help. They’re the best audiences I’ve ever had. The most powerful experience is visiting the wounded in hospitals. A friend of mine’s doing a program in San Francisco at a veterans’ hospital, getting them to do improv comedy as therapy. And it’s really helping. Comedy can be a cathartic way to deal with personal trauma.”

On whether, looking back, he has regrets: “No. Regrets don’t help.”

On his first experience with Alcohol Anonymous. “I felt so good about the first AA meeting I attended that I went out and drank the next day. And then I felt so bad that I came to the [next] meeting and said, “I screwed up. I can’t come back.” A friend said, “Why not?” I went, “I drank after the meeting.” And he said, “Hey, we don’t shoot our wounded. Come back.”

On social media. “It’s weird today. There are YouTube videos on a daily basis of assassinations, suicide bombers…. You’re inundated with images that are so brutal, and it has a numbing effect. The shock wears off.”

Tweets? “That stuff kills conversation. And people taking pictures with their phone or recording you, sometimes surreptitiously, is creepy. They come up and just start talking to you, and you can see the red light on their phone.”

On whether he would ever run for political office. “Oh, God, no. I could never. And not just because of my past. No, I think it’s easier to be outside of it. I saw what [comedian] Al Franken went through with that fight in Minnesota to get into the United States Senate. It’s a tough gig right now. Politics is so personal, vicious and immediate, how are you going to get anything done? Even the local politics where I live have gotten so ugly.”

[From Parade]

He’s crazy-honest, right? Instead of that CBS show, they should just give him a documentary series or something. Like, The Real Robin Williams of Napa. Promote it like a Real Housewives show but just let him be Robin – incredibly honest, funny, in need of money, with two ex-wives and all of the alimony payments. I would watch that. His quotes about alcoholism and AA are surreal in their confessional nature… wow. I’m glad he’s sober now.

Photos courtesy of Parade.

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73 Responses to “Robin Williams on his return to TV: ‘There are bills to pay… divorce is expensive’”

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  1. T.fanty says:

    I’m a little prejudiced because I don’t find Williams funny, but I find it a little hard to sympathize with someone whose definition of hardship is that “I’m selling the ranch in Napa” and has to get a job.

    • Kemper says:


      • Mirna says:

        The worst kind of “hardship” is to downsize. I’ve been there. Grew up dirt poor – never missed the “stuff”. Got an education and a career and some money. Downsized to spend more time with the kid. Worst feeling of “hardship” ever. Go figure.

    • lenje says:

      Hm, he has to pay for maintenance and staff of the ranch. It may not be easy to sell it with the current economy. Add the alimonies and perhaps children support?

    • Mia 4S says:

      I don’t see him call it a “hardship” at all. If anything he seems very matter of fact about it. I think his comments about addiction are also very helpful; he doesn’t blame others and acknowledges his own issues. Good for him.

      • T.fanty says:

        True. He doesn’t seem to be playing it – it isn’t like that James Haven interview where he talks about how hard his and AJs life was because they didn’t have a car. Tone is also everything. I can see RW making a joke of it, too.

      • kelly says:

        I see it as a hardship for him in the sense that because he’s been able to enjoy this lifestyle for so long and now has to give away a chunk of it, he has no idea how to adapt.

        That mixed with new-found sobriety and having to work because you NEED cash = a pretty humbling experience for him.

      • kelly says:

        I think his problems also stem from the fact that we are no longer in the 90s, when he was hot property. He doesn’t have “Flubber,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” or even “Patch Adams” to fall back on.

  2. Carol says:

    The critics have generally been positive about the show, but I am still leery. I think he is much better as a dramatic actor than as a comic one.

    • Kristin says:

      I totally agree. Though I loved Good Morning Vietnam, that still had a pretty dramatic side to it. And his performances in Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting just ripped my freaking heart out. I wish he’d do more films like those.

    • Diane says:

      I completely agree with you. I love his dramatic pieces so much better than his stand up comedy. The show does not interest me. A little bit of the manic Robin Williams goes a long way. Thirty minutes once a week may be too much. Plus, I don’t find SMG funny. I am happy to see “Bob” from Mad Men on the show.

    • Debbie says:

      He is a brilliant comedic actor, good will hunting was amazing. However, I can’t stand him as a comedian. Only comedy he has ever done I could tolerate was Mrs Doubtfire, and I credit Sally field for that.

    • Lux says:

      I thought he was really good in World’s Greatest Dad.

    • Irishae says:

      I’ve enjoyed most of his work, but there is indeed something extra special when he gets serious. I love him as a villain, One Hour Photo and Insomnia are some of my favs.

  3. Sabrine says:

    It must be quite a hardship for ex-wives collecting alimony if the gravy train dies suddenly instead of providing them with a carefree money filled existence for what they presume will be decades to come. They must scramble for whatever of value he has left.

    • Miss Jupitero says:

      For the love of God, I hope they are not thinking this is just going to last forever. If they are not doing something smart with their time and money, they will suffer for it.

    • KAI says:

      Ex-spouses (not just wives) should have a life insurance policy naming them as beneficiary in place to protect them against such contingencies.

      • Toni with an I says:

        Ex spouses carrying life insurance on each other sounds like a recipe for murder for hire ..

      • KAI says:

        If the spouse is unable to get a lump-sum settlement and has to agree to monthly support payments, an insurance policy is really the only way to protect yourself and is what was recommended to me by both of my divorce attorneys.

        Hiring someone to kill your ex-spouse for insurance will negate the policy but at least you would no longer have to worry about your living expenses.

      • KAI says:

        The average person IS required to support themselves within a reasonable time.

        In my country, it is based on length of marriage, age of children, salary or salaries, age (if someone is very close to retirement age when the marriage breaks down they may receive lifetime support), roles during marriage, earning power, etc.

        Gone are the days where someone expected to be supported for life when a marriage ends.

        Of course, when the very very wealthy marry their former nanny, it can get expensive because the nanny now has a certain lifestyle. That said, I’ve never heard of a wealthy person going to the poorhouse after a divorce.

      • Shoe_Lover says:

        or they could get a job and support themselves. Go back to school, get some skills.

  4. silken_floss says:

    I love his refreshing honesty 🙂

  5. Rhiley says:

    I read this story once about him in which this New Yorker was interviewed because his bike had been stolen. RW was near the guy on the street when he realized his bike had been stolen. RW didn’t know the guy at all, but he told him to hang tight. Thirty minutes later he came back with a brand new Bianchi for the guy. On the one hand, that is a really sweet (and weird) thing to do, but on the other, it kind of shows that maybe managing money is something Robin Williams has no idea how to do. PS, the funniest thing RW has ever done is nickname Lance Armstrong the Uniballer.

    • j.eyre says:

      I have met him, done Improv with him. He was in a comedy troupe with my acting coach. I was at a small local theater – it was never going to be the big times but he came by every once in a while to say hi.

      When the theater owner’s son opened a bar and it was struggling, RW came by and did stand-up once a week at no charge to help it get going. When the theater owner almost lost the theater/her home, RW came in to pay the taxes and save it, not as a loan but as a gift. I heard those stories in her book – he has never said a word.

      i know he was not the best husband but I do have a soft spot for him. That theater saved my life in many ways, I owe him a great deal.

      • Gia says:

        I used to live in Vancouver and was told by people who worked in some of the high end restaurants that he was the nicest customer they ever had. He always stopped to say thank you whenever the waiter/waitress would bring something to the table. Like, stop his conversation, look them in the eye and say, “thank you” and smile. I think he’s a genuinely good person and while struggling by selling your ranch in Napa is a very far cry from most people’s reality, he has been incredibly successful in a very tough industry for many years. It’s what he knows and many of his colleagues live very lavishly. It’s all relative.

      • Walt Jr says:

        He also paid almost all of Christopher Reeves hospital bills when he had his accident and couldn’t work. They were roommates at (Juliard)?

        Sorry just saw the post below..

      • Mel says:

        Are you in Mill Valley? We used to see him occasionally strolling through San Anselmo…

      • j.eyre says:

        San Rafael – was, I am in LA now but that is where I was raised.

        And just to be fair to all sides – my very close friend, who is a comedian, says RW is a joke thief and will not utter a kind word about him. My experience with RW has all been positive, though.

      • raincoaster says:

        In Vancouver some friends of mine were performing at a benefit show for a disabled performer, and it wasn’t going terribly well. Williams asked permission, then got up on stage and emceed VERY LOUDLY so the people passing by heard his voice and paid the ten bucks or whatever to get in and see him doing his thing. That is a very generous, very kind man.

      • Jayna says:

        Wow, I love him even more.

      • TG says:

        I think he also helped Christopher Reeve with his medical bills. He seems like a decent guy who just has a lot of darkness in his life.

        Oops commented before I saw your post below.

      • I Choose Me says:

        Loving all these great Robin Williams story. I like a good scandal as much as the next person but it’s nice to read such positive stories about a celebrity for a change.

        I agree that as a comedian a little goes a long way with RW but he’s a wonderful dramatic actor and I too wish he’d do more of it.

    • Liberty says:

      I think Robin’s the one who paid Christopher Reeves’s excess hospital bills, and also to have Reeves’s house extensively refitted to accommodate his life there as a quadriplegic. He helped make it possible for Reeve to go home. They’d known each other since they started out in acting/performing.

      Wise money managers would probably disagree with the wisdom of that kind of friendship too, I assume. But I admire it. He’s playing with an open heart. Though Goop will probably have more coins in the end.

      • giddy says:

        …true dat…GOOP will die with more “stuff and things”…but RW will leave a legacy of LOVE…something GOOP and her shallow-callow friends won’t ever know… or enjoy…

    • Bijlee says:

      Awwwww I’ve always loved him! He sounds like an amazing guy. Sweet!!!

  6. Sloane Wyatt says:

    I would watch the shit out of a Robin Williams reality show. This show, maybe not so much.

    • StormsMama says:

      Is that your name? Love it. Sloane was almost my daughters name. Last minute we went with something else. Love it. Maybe next baby!

  7. Mo says:

    I like him. I wish him the best.

  8. Hannah says:

    Nice sweater, Robin! 🙂

  9. MyLittlePony says:

    I think Robin Williams is one of the best dramatic actors around. Would very much enjoy watching him in a good role for a change.

  10. Kemper says:

    David E. Kelly’s work can get kind of preachy. Remember Picket Fences. I am worried.

  11. Kiddo says:

    I like the styling in the photo shoot, it suits him and has a nice sharp graphic effect. That said, I’m not all that interested in catching the show. His comedy is a bit too frenetic and slap-sticky for my taste, but I wish him luck.

  12. janie says:

    I’ll give it a chance.. I love him! There are several movie stars with TV shows this season. It should be interesting.

  13. jessica says:

    He is awesome in the movie The Birdcage!! LOVE IT!!

    • Emma13 says:

      Omg, I almost forgot about that movie!

      Robin Williams is an awesome actor both dramatic and comedic.

  14. swack says:

    I LOVE Robin Williams. While he is a great dramatic actor, his comedy is great also. As far as downsizing – how much money a month are his ex’s getting? Maybe they need to downsize also – JMO. Nanu, Nanu all!

  15. antisocial says:

    I love this man. His humor, his honesty, his sincerity -> a real multidimensional human being. I think there’s a bit of an anguished soul hidden just underneath the facade of comedy too. I just love him, from Mork and Mindy to Dead Poets to stand-up to the Birdcage to the Genie, I’ll watch Mr. Williams in anything <3

  16. Jessiebes says:

    He makes me smile. The show looks kinda bad, but that is exactly my taste. Watching it!

  17. RN says:

    I’ve never quite forgiven him for the cringe-inducing saccharine crap that is “Patch Adams”.

    Maybe he and Pam Dawber can reunite and film “Mork and Mindy – The Retirement Years”.

    • Tiffany says:

      Pam’s husband made 35 million last year, so I doubt she will come out and do a movie. Granted it will be awesome if she did, or made an appearance on his current show.

  18. Maritza says:

    I think he is a versatile actor, equally good in comedy or drama. Looking forward to see the show, good luck Mr. Williams.

  19. sillyone says:

    I love Robin however I won’t watch because I don’t care for his co-star.

  20. Feebee says:

    I love Robin Williams. Saw his stand up a few years ago, my face ached from laughing. He was simply brilliant. He is brilliant.

    I’m sad if his show is crappy and he has gone to crappy TV because he has bills to pay. Whether through bad $ mgmt or alimony. I hope he’s joking.

  21. emmie_a says:

    He seems so ‘real’ in this interview. The few times I’ve seen him on tv interviews, he has come off as downright loony and somewhat annoying (and probably drunk??!) — but I like where he is now. Very honest and accountable. He seems like he is in a really good place and I hope his show does well.

    I enjoyed reading the comments above about how nice and generous he is – what a great quality!

  22. lucy2 says:

    He sounds like an honest guy who’s been through some struggles. I’m glad he’s doing well now, from the accounts here it sounds like he’s a kind and generous soul.

    Looked it up out of curiosity – his youngest kid is 22, so hopefully he’s not shelling out child support still. And his first marriage ended 25 years ago. At what point does alimony stop?!

    I will probably check out the show due to my Buffy loyalty for SMG, but I don’t have high hopes and don’t care for DEK shows. However, I hope it’s a success for them.

  23. Liz says:

    This show actually looks pretty funny, I would definitely give it a try.

  24. mkyarwood says:

    There’s a blind about this I think on bgossip! Apparently, Sarah Michelle is horrendous to work with, and he hates her. Could account for the crappiness.

    • zut alors! says:

      I have a question about blind items, specifically the ones on CDAN where he does the reveals. Isn’t he opening himself to libel lawsuits by naming names? Has he ever been sued for defamation? Does this mean that those items are indeed true?

    • I Choose Me says:

      Aside from Robin’s contradictory quote above, I doubt this is true. People who’ve worked with SMG all during her Buffy days have always called her a consummate professional. Not always the friendliest (she doesn’t have much patience with goofing off) so maybe that’s where the rumors stem from.

  25. St says:

    I never liked him as actor. Was annoyed by him. But that interview was really honest and interesting. But how did he spend all those money? He was such A-list back in a days. He was having millions and millions. And now it’s all gone? Take note Justin Bieber.

  26. Faithmobile says:

    Love RW, good for him for selling his Napa ranch. Napa is so icky now, I say good riddance. I will always have a soft spot for Sarah MG because of Buffy, and hope that blind isn’t true.

  27. RW-Fan says:

    His net worth is reported on several sites as being north of $130 million. He must have been joking in the interview!!

  28. Jayna says:

    That movie he was in where he worked in the photo department was so good because of him. His creepiness was so real. He was brilliant in it. Great interview.

  29. lisa says:

    i dont find RW funny and i dont like DEK shows

    but i am the one person who couldnt wait for and will never see the second season of ringer. i will have to check it out for some SMG. even if i have to block out 50% like when i used to watch jack and karen – known elsewhere as will and grace

  30. Kelly says:

    The show does look awful and I thought it was just me! I want SMG and him to do well but…it looks bad…

  31. A says:

    I want him to have his own talkshow. Like tonight show with Robin Williams. That would be amazing. Or some kind of variety show.

  32. Emma13 says:

    I just watched the trailer for the new show. It looks right up my alley, I’ll be watching it!

  33. serena says:

    Oh god, I love him. Robin is really such an amazing person and actor of course. I grew up with his movies and it really makes me sad seeing that nowadays he only does small stupid roles on budget-commedy movies (maybethat’s just what they offer him?). I really hope this tv show will have a big audience because he needs that, and not only for the money. He’s a top actor, one of the best.. dammit I wish he’d still continue to do these great movies, he’s too good.

  34. Itsa Reallyme says:

    I’m thinking positive thoughts for the show. I love him and want him to do well. I’d also appreciate having a decent show to watch on TV.

  35. Claire says:

    A relative drove Robin around town when he was in NZ. Said he was a really awesome guy.