LOS ANGELES — The sky was a blanket of blue confetti, engulfing circus performers as they juggled pins, swung hula hoops and walked on stilts. A bleacher full of fans squealed celebrity names, drowning out the beats that the Blue Man Group were unleashing from enormous drums. With carnival rides next door, and a real-life robot walking the red carpet alongside Halle Berry and Ewan McGregor, it seemed like the premiere of “Robots” couldn’t get any more frenzied.
Then Robin Williams showed up.
“Hello, MTV!” the energetic comedian announced, before being reminded by a handler that he wasn’t supposed to mention the names of news outlets. “Oops, I’ll retract that,” he laughed, saying it again backward.
“Robots” stars Williams as the free-associating sidekick of McGregor’s Rodney Copperbottom, an inventor who dreams of making the robot world he inhabits a better place through science. That cartoon planet was brought to life with all the chaos of the movie’s premiere Sunday. Williams was even more caffeinated than usual while discussing the film, which marks the star’s first foray into animation since his Genie in 1992’s “Aladdin.”
“The look of it is so … you just look at the detail and see that the whole world is like that,” he struggled, for once momentarily speechless. “They did a wonderful job with the main, upscale robots and then the Rusties, who are my peeps. They’re pretty amazing, how they fall apart.”
Williams’ Fender is one of a group of amiable, rusted ‘bots that also includes Amanda Bynes as Piper Pinwheeler. So what’s the worst part about being a robot? “If you think about it, you can literally put oil on yourself and shine yourself up a little bit,” Bynes said, smiling. “There’s nothing wrong with being a robot.”
Williams refuted her point with two simple words: “Metal pants,” he said, shaking his head. “It does a real number, it chafes.”
As the world’s most advanced humanoid robot, Asimo, walked by and waved to Williams, it got him riffing on what he’d do with a robot of his own. “Ooh, big potential — without a lawyer, that one’s hard. If I could get one to ride bikes with me that would be great. Just to drive behind a beautiful female robot, particularly Halle’s character, would be lovely. That would be so sweet.”
Co-star Harland Williams (“Half Baked’) continued the co-star fantasies. “Well, Halle Berry is behind me on the red carpet here, so I’d make [my robot] go and pick up Halle Berry and bring her to me,” he said, grinning mischievously. “And we would have wonderful romantic evenings together just getting to know each other and maybe falling in love. That’s all I ask for from a robot — bring me Halle Berry, you bad, bad robot boy.”
Bynes went for a more appropriate, G-rated suggestion. “I would have it make me delicious meals, like four-star meals. I would want a chef robot.”
With people like Drew Carey, Conan O’Brien, Mel Brooks and the two Williams providing voices for the computer-animated adventure, the recording sessions often became chaotic exercises that had jokes flying in every direction. Naturally, the premiere was much the same.
Harland Williams, for example, offered up his thoughts on one robot that is definitely not in the movie. “That freak who was along with Will Robinson [on TV’s ‘Lost in Space’],” he said, flailing his arms around. “It was like, ‘Danger, danger Will Robinson!’ He was the most overprotective robot, and no one ever listened to him. They’d step on the giant mushrooms, and he’d be like, ‘Danger, danger!’ and they’d go, ‘Aw, shut up!’ and go jump on the giant mushrooms anyway.”
Robin Williams took it a step further, referring to the clunkiness of movie droids from yesteryear. “Did you ever see the giant one, the one that used to walk up stairs like an old [lady]?” he laughed, putting on a voice. “Even old [ladies] would say, ‘I move faster than him!’ ”
“Robots” moves into theaters Friday.
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