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Robin Williams improvised ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ ‘so much’ that 2 million feet of film was used


“Mrs. Doubtfire” director Chris Columbus is reflecting on working with legendary actor Robin Williams.

In recognition of the popular movie’s 30th anniversary, Columbus recalled using an extensive amount of film during production to capture all of Williams’ ad-libbed moments.

“Early on in the process, he went to me, ‘Hey boss, the way I like to work, if you’re up for it, is I’ll give you three or four scripted takes, and then let’s play,’” Columbus shared with Business Insider.

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Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire

Robin Williams in the kitchen in a scene from “Mrs. Doubtfire,” 1993. (20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)

“By saying that, what he meant was he wanted to improvise. And that’s exactly how we shot every scene. We would have exactly what was scripted, and then Robin would go off, and it was something to behold.”

Williams’ improvisation amounted to nearly 2 million feet of film being shot for the classic movie.

Although Columbus admitted the production was behind schedule, he added that Williams was unstoppable, and the film crew loved every moment of it. 

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Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire

Robin Williams sweeps in a scene from the film “Mrs. Doubtfire,” 1993. (20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)

“They were 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,” Columbus said.

The Hollywood actor starred in the film in 1993. The story follows a divorced actor who disguises himself as a female housekeeper to spend more time with his children, who live primarily with his ex-wife.

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Robin Williams

Robin Williams died by suicide in 2014. (Getty Images)

Since there was an extensive amount of footage filmed of Williams during the production of “Mrs. Doubtfire,” Columbus said a documentary could be in the works for the future.

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“We are talking about it and trying to get it done. 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,” Columbus explained.

“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.”

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Williams’ 2014 death was ruled suicide.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).



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