Comic Book Legends Revealed #484
COMIC LEGEND: Joel Schumacher fired Robin Williams from Batman Forever and replaced him with Jim Carrey
STATUS: I’m Going With False
The late Robin Williams was a big comic book fan and he had been attached to Batman films for years.
However, this past week I’ve seen a number of reports that talked about how Williams was offered to play the Riddler but Joel Schumacher took the offer away to cast Jim Carrey instead.
The most popular citation for this is, naturally enough, Williams himself, who had a great bit in Empire Magazine in 2010 about wanting to work with Christopher Nolan on a future Batman film (they had worked together on the 2002 film Insomnia).
“But back to Chris Nolan. The extraordinary thing about him is that he’s still growing as a director. The Batman films engage you so heavily as a viewer because the detail is all there. Even the small characters are interesting, and you can absolutely see how Heath Ledger could create a character as crazy and fascinating as The Joker with a director like Chris, who’s totally in control but lets you go wild.
“I would work with Chris again in a second, playing anyone in anything. I’d play The Riddler in the next Batman, although it’d be hard to top Heath as the villain, and I’m a little hairy for tights. Plus, the Batman films have screwed me twice before: years ago they offered me The Joker and then gave it to Jack Nicholson, then they offered me The Riddler and gave it to Jim Carrey. I’d be like, “Okay, is this a real offer? If it is, then the answer’s yes. Don’t pump me again, motherfuckers.”
“I’m using this article as an ad. Chris, call me, I’ll do anything. I could be a great character — or some weird little man in the background in Arkham Asylum.”
For the Joker reference, it seems a bit iffy as to whether Williams was ever officially offered the part, but the producers of Batman definitely discussed the role with Williams, but only to compel Jack Nicholson into taking the role (“If you don’t sign on, we’re going to move on with Robin Williams” – that sort of thing). It worked, as Nicholson quickly signed on after they started talks with Williams.
The Riddler, however, is a different story. It is true that the Riddler in Batman Forever was Williams’ part for the taking, from when Tim Burton was doing the film through when Joel Schumacher took over the movie.
What Williams was mistating, though, was HOW he left the film. It might be very true that Schumacher was HOPING that Williams would leave so that he could sign the younger “hotter” Jim Carrey, but it was Williams who ultimately turned down the role. He was not fired from the role.
The film was in a lot of flux at the time, with Michael Keaton unsure whether HE would return to play Batman for Schumacher (he ultimately decided not to). According to Entertainment Weekly at the time, WIlliams’ problem was that
He believed the character was too intellectual and not as comedic as the Riddler played by Frank Gorshin on the TV series.” Williams was reportedly also concerned that his Riddler would be overshadowed by the film’s other Bat-foe, Harvey (Two-Face) Dent, especially after Tommy Lee Jones was cast in the role.
Other reports also stated that Williams was unhappy with Warner Brothers over how they handled his 1994 film Being Human (as I’ve pointed out in a past Movie Legends Revealed, when Williams was unhappy with a studio, he was not shy about letting them know).
In the end, for whatever the reason, Warners eventually gave him a deadline to make up his mind and he decided not to do the role. They then quickly moved on Carrey.
It would have been fascinating to see Williams’ take on the character.
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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