6. Batman Forever (1995) — After losing the Joker role to Nicholson, Williams refused to do any Warner Bros. projects until he got an apology from the studio for basically using him as a pawn. When the Batman Forever project came up Williams was immediately considered for the role of the Riddler and was on board to play the part. That was before Tim Burton dropped out and Michael Keaton left the project. After negative feedback over the dark vibe of Batman Returns, Warner Bros. brought in director Joel Schumacher, who favored Jim Carrey for the part.
7. Little Miss Sunshine (2006) — Despite his success with The 40-Year-Old Virgin and budding The Office fame, Fox Searchlight was hesitant about casting Steve Carell and looking at more recognizable actors. Robin Williams and Bill Murray were considered for the role, but were obviously a lot more expensive. In the end, the studio’s decision to cast Carell paid off, as Carell’s performance earned universal praise.
8. Milk (2008) — In the early ’90s, Oliver Stone was attached to the biopic of gay rights advocate Harvey Milk, and Robin Williams was his top choice for the role. When the project — then-titled The Mayor of Castro Street — shifted from Stone to Gus Van Sant, Williams stayed on to play the part despite doubts from some that he could portray a gay activist. Via Philly.com:
“I grew up in San Francisco; I grew up around gay people,” he says. “I remember walking down the streets one day and the Sisters of Indulgence, specifically Sister Mary Boom Boom, looked at me and said, ‘There goes the neighborhood.’ I thought that was wonderful.”
The project failed to get off the ground for over a decade because of Van Sant’s issues with the script and in that time Williams moved on from the project, allowing Sean Penn to come in and snag the “Best Actor” Oscar.
9. The Dark Knight (2008) — After hearing that Christopher Nolan was developing the follow-up to Batman Begins, Williams publicly expressed his interest on a new take for the Joker role to IGN:
“Well, you want to do a different Joker. You know, if they do Arkham Asylum, it would be amazing. Arkham Asylum is one of the greatest, nastiest comic books ever. It’s truly, it’s like the Marquee de Sade on that level, and wonderfully damaged and quite tragic, in terms of when you realize [what happened to] create these characters.”
Williams had of course previously worked with Nolan on Insomnia, but unfortunately for him Nolan had a vision for the Joker that included Heath Ledger from the beginning.
10. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) — At this point Robin Williams’ attempts to land a part in a Batman movie are becoming a little embarrassing, but he doesn’t give up when it comes to playing a Batman villain. In 2010, Williams again expressed his obsession with playing the Riddler — or really any role in Christopher Nolan’s next installment of the trilogy. Williams gave an interview to Empire magazine that was essentially a desperate plea to Christopher Nolan for a part.
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, motherf*ckers.”
“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.”
Happy birthday, Robin. Maybe try calling up your Good Will Hunting buddy Ben Affleck?