Everyone's favorite comic opens up on playing an unconventional man of the cloth in License to Wed.
If you had told me as a child that I was going to get to meet Mork from Ork in person, I would have promptly passed out--and you don't see a lot of unconscious six-year-olds. But meet him I did at the recent junket for License to Wed, a romantic comedy starring John Krasinski (The Office) and Mandy Moore (Because I Said So, American Dreamz) as a young couple planning their wedding, and Robin Williams as the unorthodox minister who might keep that from happening.
I figured this would be a fun press conference, and I was absolutely right. Some celebs view the press they must do to promote their films as a chore, and who can necessarily blame them? They are actors, not PR people. But Williams obviously relishes in press days--each interview an opportunity to entertain yet another person, each question fodder for a stand-up routine. My T-shirt (which had the slogan "M is for Milkshake" emblazoned across the chest), in particular, provoked some colorful comments. It was magnificent.
In License to Wed, Williams plays Reverend Frank, Mandy's family minister who insists that she and John complete his rigorous marriage preparation course before he will consent to marry them. Reverend Frank also has a rather unusual choir boy (Josh Flitter) who assists him in his course. "That's why he's a Protestant," explained Williams. "If you had a Catholic priest with a small boy, already they'd be going 'What's up? What's the boy?' 'For the weekends.'"
And although the movie is meant to be funny, Williams, who has been married twice, does think there is something to be said for making sure you are up to the challenge. "I remember in Good Will Hunting, you talked about all the things that drive you crazy, but also the same things you really love about that person," he recalled. "The great thing about marriage is the idea of really getting to know someone. And really getting to know a woman is a lifelong task. I can't imagine polygamy. To have two or three women pissed at me would be... and if they're all going through their period at the same time, 'You have to sleep sometime, you a**hole!'"
Williams picked License to Wed because, simply, the thought the script was funny. "It is hard to find something where you can go off as much as I do in stand-up, but I think stand-up allows me that freedom where you can really go off and have a good time," he said. "But within the character, there's enough room to play. And when you have someone like John Krasinski and Mandy Moore, that's people who play opposite you and keep you going."
So did director Ken Kwapis allow Williams to improvise as much as he likes to on a comedy? "He was open more to me physically improvising with him," said the comedian. "He would have these rehearsals and I would go, 'What is this about?' And he'd go, 'Put on this thong.' and I'd go, 'But these scenes are from Brokeback Mountain.' "
Williams was quite modest when asked about his costars, specifically if he had any advice for Krasinksi. "I can't give him advice," he retorted. "All he has to say is, 'What is it about Popeye that you wanted?' He's got great chops, plus he's also directed his own movie. The dude is so far ahead of me in terms of what he's done. He's got great physical timing and physical comedy combined with a really wonderful mind."
As for Moore, Williams is as impressed with her bearing as her acting skills. "Mandy isn't making the papers as much because she's not playing bumper car with a Bentley," he quipped before going on about her combination of acting skills and wholesome quality. "It's a weird combination. Pam Dawber had it--this kind of wholesome sensuality where a lot of guys will come up and say, 'You ever do Mindy?'"
Coming up for Williams is the drama August Rush with Freddie Highmore (A Good Year, Finding Neverland). "It's basically about a child prodigy trying to reconnect with his parents through music," he explains. "It's an interesting piece--kind of Amadeus-like. I'm an old rock and roll, kind of strange musician. Like a former rock and roller who's got these kids. It's like Fagin meets Ted Nugent, but without the bow and arrow."
He is also filming Old Dogs with John Travolta. "It's about two guys basically forced to deal with being in their 50s and all of a sudden going, 'What do you want to do now?'" Williams explains. "One hunts cougars, if you catch my drift. And basically one finds out that he has children and then the other one wants to help him with that, but also uses the kids as bait...for the cougars."
He does not expect to be playing any love interest roles anytime soon. "At the age of 55, I'm a character actor, you know?" But he does have a few things he wouldn't mind doing. "I want to dance on ice. After seeing Blades of Glory, I believe I could."
License to Wed opens in wide release on Tuesday, July 3, 2007.
Click on reelz.com's License to Wed page for clips from the movie and more!