The following are excerpts from a 2005 interview I had with Tim Robbins, who was coming to The Ridgefield Playhouse for a film retrospective. All I remember from the phone interview was that he sounded really, really tired.
Hollywood maverick has sense of humor
RIDGEFIELD – Academy Award winning actor Tim Robbins does it for the wigs. When he gets a script, he scans the pages but doesn’t look for dialogue or character development.
Nope. He’s looking for rugs.
“I’ve got a few. It makes Halloween that much easier. If I ever start losing my hair I have a collection to choose from,” Robbins said.
However, there is a downside. Most of his wigs look like the one he wore in the Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman,” where Robbins had a cameo as a pipe smoking, elbow-patch wearing, PBS-newsman-with-a-violent-streak.
The wig in question was a weird quasi-Afro.
“I could go for that if I had to,” Robbins said.
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Robbins was also attached to one of the biggest Hollywood bombs of all time. “Howard the Duck,” produced by George Lucas, came out in 1986 and was quickly forgotten – even by Robbins.
“I was in another movie that year, ‘Five Corners’ (starring Jodie Foster and John Turturro) which was very good. I knew that more people would see that than ‘Howard the Duck.’ I didn’t care that much about ‘Howard the Duck.’ When that movie was about to come out I was directing a play at The Actor’s Gang,” he said.
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Robbins‘ most popular movie, “The Shawshank Redemption,” wasn’t much of anything when it was released in 1994. It came and left theaters with little notice, despite glowing reviews.
However, the movie became a phenomenon once it hit video stores. Today it is considered, with “The Godfather,” as the most popular movie ever made, according to polls conducted by the Internet Movie Database.
Robbins said he thought the script was the best he had ever read. He’s proud that “Shawshank” has become a pop culture touchstone. In the film, he plays a man wrongfully jailed for murder. The movie has a mythic quality that makes it seem more fable than prison tale.
He’s still not sure why people love it so much.
“The spirit of that movie is a redemptive spirit. It offers people hope. You can analyze about what it is exactly about that movie. Is it someone finding freedom? Is it one of the few movies where men can have a friendship that doesn’t involve kicking ass and driving fast cars? Is it this deep meaning about being in prison and how everyone is imprisoned to some degree?,” Robbins said.
“Who knows? It’s important to people and I’m honored to be part of something like that,” Robbins said.