Mara Wilson Remembers Robin Williams' Shy Side, Tells Funny Stories From Mrs. Doubtfire Set: "We're All His Goddamn Kids, Too"
Mara Wilson posted another touching tribute to her late Mrs. Doubtfire costar Robin Williams, on her blog Monday, Aug. 18, remembering her onscreen father as "warm, gentle, expressive, nurturing, and brilliant."
"I’ve been flooded with memories in the past few days," Wilson wrote of the actor, who committed suicide one week ago, on Aug. 11, at the age of 63. "He was a creator as much as a performer… He was so quick and prolific, coming up with so many lines and bits even though there was no way we could use them all."
Wilson went on to recall funny memories of Williams during the filming of Mrs. Doubtfire. "Robin would do anything to make me and the other kids laugh," she wrote. Those hand puppets that dance alongside the genie in Aladdin's 'Friend Like Me'? That must have been his suggestion, because Robin made those in real life. He'd break them out between takes to entertain us between takes. 'I don't like you,' his left hand would say to his right. 'You smell like poop!'"
"I would laugh uproariously," Wilson, 27, recalled. "I was five, so poop jokes were the height of hilarity — as his right hand yelled back 'Well, there’s no toilet paper at my house!'" The star went on to explain how Williams never resorted to crude humor when cracking jokes.
"When we were filming the climactic dinner party scene, he would make his carpet bag bark like a dog under the table, then order it to be quiet," Wilson said of Mrs. Doubtfire's large tote, which held her elaborate disguise. "He seemed to know instinctively what we would find funny, and never had to resort to saying anything that was inappropriate for children. He was, after all, a father himself."
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection
While Williams was uproariously funny, Wilson revealed the late actor also had a timid side. "Robin was so on so much of the time that I was surprised to hear my mother describe him as 'shy,'" Wilson wrote. "'When he talks to you,' she told her friends, 'he'll be looking down at his shoes the whole time.' I figured he must have been different with grown-ups," Wilson wrote. "I wouldn't see that side of him myself until a few years later, when I was invited to be part of a table read of What Dreams May Come. He came alive in the reading, and had us all laughing at lunch, but my strongest impression came when we saw each other for the first time that day. Robin crossed to me from across the room, got down to my level, and whispered 'Hi, how are you?' He asked how my family was doing, how school was, never raising his voice and only sometimes making eye contact. He seemed so vulnerable. 'So this is what Mom meant,' I thought. It was as if I was seeing him for the first time."
For Wilson, her biggest regret has been not staying in touch with Williams in his final years. "Robin and I had not spoken in a few years. We weren’t on bad terms, we had just lost track of each other," she wrote. "I wish we had talked more. I wish I had reached out more. Being a Worst Case Scenario kind of person, I’ve worried so many times about losing so many people I care about, but I never could imagine losing Robin."
The Matilda star, who revealed in April 2012 why she had quit film acting, added: "I had thought maybe the next time I saw Robin I would explain myself to him, let him know that I had loved working with him but didn’t feel like we could do it again, and that being in major studio films again meant a level of scrutiny I didn’t think I could deal with. I wanted to apologize and know he understood. It hurts to know I can't."
She concluded her post by including her most-memorable line in Mrs. Doubtfire. "It is remarkable how many lives Robin touched, and how many people said, just as I had, that he reminded them of their fathers," Wilson wrote. "I suppose – could I really end this any other way? – we're all his goddamn kids, too."