'Night at the Museum' Stars, Director Remember Robin Williams as a "Legend Who Was Also Still a Fan"
Ricky Gervais, Shawn Levy, Rebel Wilson and Dan Stevens talk about what drew them to the third installment
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb isn't just the latest installment in the Fox franchise about historical exhibits that come to life; the third movie in the series also marks one of Robin Williams' final projects.
The late actor-comedian filmed his final outing as Teddy Roosevelt before he committed suicide this August. The cast and director Shawn Levy took time on the red carpet at the film's star-studded premiere in New York to share some of their fond memories of working with Williams.
See more Robin Williams' Most Memorable Roles
"They're only fond. I have only fond memories of working with him," Ricky Gervais told The Hollywood Reporter. "He was incredible. I never met anyone like him, just always trying to make you feel good, whatever he was feeling."
Levy expressed a similar sentiment, telling THR, "Robin was such a joy every day. I used to love how much he enjoyed making Ben Stiller laugh. I loved that here was this legend who was also still a fan."
While Night at the Museum co-star Steve Coogan didn't have any scenes with Williams, he knew him and described Williams as "very sweet and kind," and he thinks it's appropriate that this is one of his final onscreen appearances.
"His role in this is a lovely role playing Teddy Roosevelt," Coogan said. "There's a real warmth to his character, and I think this movie's a fitting epitaph."
Secret of the Tomb is the third outing for many of the original Night at the Museum castmembers and its director, Levy, who has helmed all three films. It's not always the case that the director of a hit movie returns for future installments of the franchise, but Levy said he couldn't give this one up.
"There's something about this franchise that is so from my heart and connected to my heart that there was just no way I was ever going to let it go," he said.
Gervais, meanwhile, said he kept making the Night at the Museum films because they're just fun.
"I did the first, actually, returning a favor to Ben [Stiller], who'd just done Extras, and it was just pure fun," Gervais said. "I did the second. I did the third. It's just lovely, escapist [entertainment]."
Speaking of returning to projects, Gervais mentioned to THR that he would be interested in hosting the Golden Globes again, saying that he started to enjoy it more and more as the audience realized he was just kidding with his edgy quips.
"By the end, they realized I was just telling jokes: 'Oh, he's not trying to ruin our life; he's just having a laugh,'" Gervais said of his three-year run hosting the show. "But I think it was right to stop when I did. But I'd love to do it again one day. It's a good, fun industry party."
Gervais was nominated for his third Golden Globe on Thursday, winning in 2004 for his role in the British version of The Office.
Gervais, Levy and Coogan were joined on the Night at the Museum red carpet by stars Ben Stiller (with wife Christine Taylor) and Owen Wilson, Robin Williams' widow, Susan Schneider, and new Night at the Museum castmembers Rebel Wilson, Rachael Harris and Dan Stevens. They all, incidentally, were upstaged on Thursday night by Crystal the monkey, who plays Dexter, and posed for photos and jumped onto the shoulders of Wilson and Harris.
Wilson said it was Shawn Levy's daughter who suggested she appear in the movie, and she said while she was happy to do that for the director, it was the film's story and quality humor in a PG-rated film that really drew her in.
"It had a really good storyline, really good action, special effects, and I think like world-class comedy for a family movie, because obviously you're restricted in ways that you're not when you do R-rated movies," she said. "It just has all the elements, and then when you add the special effects and Shawn's experience directing the franchise, it was a no-brainer for me to be a part of it."
Stevens, meanwhile, said he couldn't resist the chance to join the cast of his "all-time comedic heroes."
"It is a heck of a lineup, and they were incredibly warm and welcoming," the Downton Abbey alum said. "Shawn Levy makes it a very playful environment, and we had a lot of fun."