While Howard The Duck—the 1986 film executive produced by George Lucas—is known for being a box office bust, one man could’ve (probably not) saved the day: Robin Williams.
In honor of the flop film’s 35th anniversary, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with some of the film’s stars to discuss how exactly things went the way they did. And, as it turns out, Williams wasn’t just considered for the titular role as fans have known, he took it on.
“What I was told was by the third day, Robin said, ‘I can’t do this. It is insane. I can’t get the rhythm of this. I am being confined. I am being handcuffed in order to match the flapping duck’s bill.’” said Chip Zien, the voice of Howard. “So, on Memorial Day 1985, I got a call from my agent who said, ‘You have to get right to the airport! Robin Williams just quit and you’re now Howard the Duck. You need to get there tonight. There is a ticket waiting for you at the counter.’ I was incredibly excited.”
As THR reports, Robin passed on the gig after a week due to “frustration over syncing his voice to the duck’s animatronic bill.” Basically, Howard’s talking parts were initially done by those on set, and when Robin came in to record over and get improvisational, as he usually does, it was nearly impossible for the voice-over vet.
The film, based on the Marvel character, also featured a young Lea Thompson, who appeared as a human opposite Howard. The actress also caught up with THR to discuss her thoughts on the film today, for an oral history worth exploring here.