Robin Williams Remembered: 'Fisher King's' Director and Producer Recall How He "Salvaged" the Shoot

9:00 AM PST 08/13/2014 by As told to Chris Gardner, Ariston Anderson
TriStar Pictures/Courtesy of Everett Collection
Terry Gilliam and Robin Williams on the set of "The Fisher King"

Terry Gilliam and Lynda Obst tell THR about the late actor's ability to save the day — on more than one occasion

This story first appeared in the Aug. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Terry Gilliam, director, 1991's The Fisher King; writer, 1988's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

One night, we were shooting for The Fisher King in this Chinese restaurant. It was four in the morning. Everything had gone wrong, and everyone was exhausted. Mercedes Ruehl and I were almost unable to stand, we were so tired. Suddenly, Robin started this 45-minute stand-up routine. What was extraordinary was, it was about the crew, the actors. He could do specific jokes about every single person in the crew. It was an incredible quality he had, to remember in detail every single person and make these wonderful jokes all at once. He lifted everyone's spirit. By dawn, we were flying. Robin salvaged the whole night.

It was the sense of the moment that he knew that people needed a lift. And that's what always surprised me about him. He was always aware of the world around him. Whatever demons he was addressing inside, he never cut the world out.

Lynda Obst, producer, The Fisher King

We were shooting the scene where he waltzes in Grand Central Station through all the extras. Commuters would be arriving at 5 a.m. We were so late, we couldn’t break for the extras to have water. The AD was so freaked out, he threw down his walkie talkie and quit.

So as Robin’s waltzing in this heavy costume, he’s grabbing water on the sidelines and handing to all the extras when they were hot, tired, crowded and ready to faint. We could never have wrapped that scene — which might be the best one in the movie — without his spirit.

To read more tributes to Williams, click here.

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