‘Howard the Duck’ Team: Robin Williams Quit After One Week Over ‘Insane’ Voiceover Process
Robin Williams is well known to be courted and auditioned for Willard Huyck's 1986 misfire, "Howard the Duck," but it turned out that the iconic comedian had booked the role and quit after just a week. Voice actor Chip Zien revealed in a new interview for The Hollywood Reporter on the occasion of the film's 35th anniversary. Zien spoke the eponymous anthropomorphic duck and was originally offended when his agent first brought him the role.
"She asked me if I was thinking of auditioning because I sound a bit like a duck," said Zien. "I was mad. And I told my agent. He said, 'Oh my god! Someone came to you about Howard the Duck? Chip, it's huge! This is a great thing! I'll call right away. ‘And then I realized that everyone in the world was auditioning for it, from big names to people like me."
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Robin Williams was cast on Zien, but according to The Hollywood Reporter Interview, “Zien [revealed Williams] left the project within the first week out of frustration at synchronizing his voice with the duck's animatronic bill. An actor who spoke Howard was not cast during production, so all of Howards' lines on set were read by the puppeteers and the bill was postponed according to their boring performance, rendering Williams ’wild style of improvisation irrelevant in post-production."
“What I was told was that on the third day, Robin said, 'I can't do this. It's crazy. I can't get the rhythm. I am locked up. I'm handcuffed to meet the beak of the fluttering duck. ‘" Said Zien. “So on Memorial Day 1985, I got a call from my agent who said, 'You have to go straight to the airport! Robin Williams just quit and you are now Howard the Duck. You have to get there tonight. A ticket is waiting for you at the counter. ‘I was incredibly excited."
Howard the Duck was a notorious critical and commercial bombshell when it hit theaters, though it has achieved cult status in the decades since it was released. Visit The Hollywood Reporter's website to read more from Zien on the film's 35th anniversary.
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