The director of "Mrs. Doubtfire" saved 600 km of film with improvisations by Robin Williams (4 photos)

Category: Movie, PEGI 0+
1 December 2023

Robin Williams has played many comedic roles throughout his career, one of the most popular being Mrs. Doubtfire. The film, whose title coincides with the surname of the main character, is replete with jokes, many of which are improvised. But what viewers see is only an edited version. After filming, more than 600 kilometers of film remained with jokes and Williams’ enchanting performance.

Williams set the tone for the filming

The film was released on November 22, 1993. Robin Williams played an actor who, after divorcing his wife, disguises himself as a housekeeper in order to spend more time with his children. The comedy became a hit, grossing more than $441 million worldwide.

At the very beginning of filming, Robin turned to Chris Columbus:

"Hey, boss, if you don't mind, I'll do three or four takes according to the script, and then I'll improvise."

That's how they filmed every scene. At first the game was played according to the script, and then Robin’s imagination turned on.

The film crew couldn't keep up with the actor

The director recalls:

"Poor script assistant. It was the early 1990s, she didn't type up what he said. She wrote by hand and Robin ad-libbed every take. It got to the point where he couldn't remember much of anything he said anymore earlier. We went to her and asked, but sometimes she didn’t have time to record. In the end, I used four cameras to keep up with him..."

No one knew what Williams would say, so the camera had to catch the other actors' reactions as well. At times, it was difficult for Pierce Brosnan and Sally Field to maintain their image.

Columbus plans to make documentary about the filming of Mrs. Doubtfire

At one time, Columbus offered Williams to make a sequel to the comedy, but he refused. Many years later, the actor met with the director again to discuss a sequel. A really “strong script” was written. Robin asked a single question:

“Boss, do I have to spend so much time in the suit this time?”

We didn’t have time to start filming - Robin passed away in 2014. Columbus has saved more than 970 boxes of footage, from which it plans to create a documentary film and show it to the world.

"We want to show Robin's process. There's something special and magical about the way he played, I think it's really interesting."

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