Awakenings is a 1990 drama adapted from the 1973 nonfiction book by Oliver Sacks. The film stars Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, alongside Penelope Ann Miller and Julie Kavner and centres on a doctor’s work with the catatonic patients he finds languishing in a hospital in the Bronx, NY, amid a sparkling 1960s setting.
Although Robert De Niro and Robin Williams might not be the people you’d expect to work extraordinarily well together, this film puts them into a space where they clearly play off one another and fall into a great emotional rhythm artistically.
The duo’s relationship means that some of their best moments happened off-screen. It’s no secret that Robin Williams was a national treasure, and it’s a shame that he isn’t here with us today. Seeing him interact with others and having them experience the joy he brought to every room and every scene is simply unbeatable.
Although the clip is short, there’s so much you can glean from it in terms of their relationship with one another, their working style as actors, and their individual personalities on set.
The clip starts off with an interview with Robin Williams, in which he says, “I first assume that they like to see the things that I like, and they don’t,” and a playful chuckle following his words. Then, however, it cuts to Robert De Niro talking about working with Robin Williams.
De Niro says, “Robin’s very funny on the set, I mean, he likes to concentrate too. He’s very serious about what he does. But at the same time, you know, he’ll joke around between takes, you see, because in movies there’s a lot of waiting. And he’s quite something; he’s very very amazing. Really funny.”
Part of the quote is laid over a clip of the two actors embracing in a sweet hug, which is extremely touching. It’s clear that the they had a lot of affection and admiration for one another, as one might expect from the two of them. What follows is a short clip of a blooper that took place on set. Robin Williams messes a line up, and instead of simply starting over, the two of them laugh it off and turn it into another joke of its own. It’s a funny moment that you wouldn’t otherwise see, but luckily, it resurfaced for everyone to enjoy.
If you want to take a look at the sweet outtakes of Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, you can find the short video down below.