The last of four movies Robin Williams had completed before he took his own life Aug. 11, 2014, was the live-action “Absolutely Anything,” about Neil Clarke (Simon Pegg), a teacher who is granted the ability to do exactly what the title says by aliens who observe him from outer space. (The aliens’ voices are provided by John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and other “Monty Python” alumni).
The first thing Clarke decides to do? He asks his dog, Dennis, to talk.
The first thing Dennis says? “Biscuit!” The dog’s voice is provided by Williams. “Biscuit! Please, please, please! Nothing else matters. …Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind shagging your leg right now.”
“Absolutely Anything” opens in theaters this Friday, Aug. 14.
The film’s producer, Mike Medavoy, told BuzzFeed News last year that it took Williams a while to find the right voice for the dog.
“What was interesting was he started off doing it one way — tried it, it didn’t quite work,” Medavoy said. “Then, the [filmmakers] came over from London. He tried it again. And then … he called and he said, ‘I just had an inspiration. I just figured out how to do it.’”
Williams himself paid for the studio time to re-record his role.
“Absolutely Anything” also marks the first time in nearly two decades that “Monty Python” alums Cleese and Gilliam, along with Eric Idle and Michael Palin, have done a project together. The film was directed and co-written by their fellow alum, Terry Jones.
“Just by its farcical nature, this movie lent itself to those guys,” producer Chris Chesser told Entertainment Weekly (EW) back in January 2012.
Williams was with the project since its inception over two years ago.
“One thing we’re grateful to Robin for is he was the first to come on and he stuck with the whole thing,” co-screenwriter Gavin Scott told Deadline Hollywood. “The kind of attitude that led him to stick with the project through all its ups and downs, he totally exhibited here. He wanted to make everybody feel good, from the engineer to the lady making the coffee. It was very late in the day for him and we didn’t know that, but he was a real mensch.”
Medavoy told BuzzFeed News he understood why Williams’ death broke the hearts of people both in and out of show business.
“There’s a reason why so many people have rallied [around him],” he said. “A lot of people in the business really liked him.”
Williams’ final on-screen role was in “Boulevard,” which is still playing in some theaters and will be released on DVD Sept. 1.
Here’s the trailer for “Absolutely Anything.” When Clarke wishes that everyone who died could be alive again, a certain much-missed comedian immediately springs to mind.
Portions of this post were originally published Aug. 13, 2014.