Robin Williams Did Stand Up For Steven Spielberg to Help Him Through Schindler's List

Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam

Looking at Steven Spielberg's filmography, Schindler's List frequently ranks as one of the director's best movies. Released in 1993, it was met with critical acclaim and walked away with seven Academy Awards. However, given that the seriousness of the subject matter, filming Schindler's List was understandably difficult at times for Spielberg, so in order to help keep him from being continually depressed, Robin Williams called Spielberg every week to perform stand up comedy for him. Spielberg said:

Robin knew what I was going through, and once a week, Robin would call me on schedule and he would do 15 minutes of stand-up on the phone, and I would laugh hysterically, because I had to release so much. But the way Robin is on the telephone, he'd always hang up on the loudest, best laugh you'd give him. He'd never say goodbye, just hang up on the biggest laugh.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Schindler's List, and the film was screened last night at the Tribeca Film Festival and was followed by a panel that included Steven Spielberg, Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall and Embeth Davidtz. This screening marked the first time that Spielberg has watched Schindler's List with the sound since the movie came out, and one of the things the director reminisced about during the panel (via USA Today) was how instrumental Robin Williams was in help him cope during production in Poland. When you're making a movie about a man who's working to rescue Jewish prisoners from the Holocaust, there's going to be a heavy mood throughout principal photography. To deal with this, Spielberg watched Saturday Night Live episodes, but Williams' regular phone calls were just as important a source of levity. Without those, I imagine making Schindler's List would have taken a bigger emotional toll on Spielberg.

Around the time that Steven Spielberg was making Schindler's List, Robin Williams was arguably at the height of his film career, with movies like Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Hook and Aladdin on his resume. But the fact that he took time out of his schedule to help Spielberg deal with what remains one of his most ambitious films of his career is a testament to the man's character. Before becoming a movie star and even before starring in Mork & Mindy, Williams made a living as a stand up comedian, so he was an excellent person for Spielberg to turn to when he needed some cheering up.

Steven Spielberg's latest movie, Ready Player One, is still playing in theaters, and he's gearing up to start working on Indiana Jones 5, which will be released on July 10, 2020. Following that, Spielberg will turn his attention to the West Side Story remake, and it was also recently announced that he's attached to produce and possibly direct a Blackhawk movie for DC and Warner Bros. If you're interested in learning what movies are coming out later this year, take a look at our 2018 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.