Mrs Doubtfire director reveals Robin Williams shot 'almost two million feet' of footage

Publish Date
Friday, 24 November 2023, 3:06PM
Photo / Bang! Showbiz

Photo / Bang! Showbiz

Robin Williams improvised enough for "almost two million feet" of 'Mrs Doubtfire' footage.

Director Chris Columbus has recalled how late star Williams - who tragically took his own life aged 63 in 2014 - suggested working on "three or four scripted takes" before having some fun.

Speaking to Business Insider, he said: "It got to the point that I had to shoot the entire movie with four cameras to keep up with him.

Sign up to Coast's newsletter for exclusive prizes and to keep up to date with the latest.

“None of us knew what he was going to say when he got going and so I wanted a camera on the other actors to get their reactions…

[The studio was] loving what they were seeing. Did they watch everything? I don’t think so. We shot almost 2 million feet of film on that picture.”

Three decades later, Columbus has kept over 900 boxes of footage including heaps of outtakes and unseen behind-the-scenes clips, and he'd love to turn it all into a documentary.

"There are roughly 972 boxes of footage from ‘Doubtfire’ — footage we used in the movie, outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage — in a warehouse somewhere and we would like to hire an editor to go in and look at all of that footage.

“We want to show Robin’s process. There is something special and magical about how he went about his work and I think it would be fun to delve into it.

"I mean, there’s 2 million feet of film in that warehouse so there could be something we can do with all of that.”

Meanwhile, the filmmaker still feels sorry for the "poor script supervisor" who had to keep up with Williams' constantly changing takes during a time when she had to handwrite everything.

He recalled: "So Robin would go to a place where he couldn’t remember much of what he said. We would go to the script supervisor and ask her and sometimes she didn’t even get it all.

"Often, he would literally give us a completely different take than what we did doing the written takes.” 

- Written by Bang! Showbiz and republished here with permission

Where to get help:

• Lifeline: Call 0800 543 354 or text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: Call 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: Call 0800 376 633 or text 234
• What’s Up: Call 0800 942 8787 (11am to 11pm) or webchat (11am to 10.30pm)
• Depression helpline: Call 0800 111 757 or text 4202 (available 24/7)
• Helpline: Need to talk? Call or text 1737

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you