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Film

The story of how Robin Williams saved a stoned Jack Nicholson

@Russellisation

At the turn of the 21st century, there were no two names bigger in the world of cinema than Jack Nicholson and Robin Williams, two superstars of Hollywood operating on either end of the spectrum. Where Nicholson starred in the likes of dramas such as The Pledge and About Schmidt, Williams was making the world laugh with his comedy routines and newfound acting feet. 

Whilst Jack Nicholson has since retired from acting, with the 2010 film How Do You Know marking his final appearance to date, Robin Williams tragically passed away in August 2014 after a lifelong battle with depression. Where many actors come and go in and out of industry prevalence, Williams managed to transcend the limits of cinema and become something far more significant for the culture of America in the late 20th century. 

Starting his career on stage, Williams initially found comedy a difficult landscape to navigate, explaining in the book Seriously Funny: “It’s a brutal field, man. They burn out. It takes its toll”. Describing the intense lifestyle of being a comedian on tour, Williams added: “If you’re on the road, it’s even more brutal…The pressure kicks in. You become obsessed and then you lose that focus that you need”. 

Later becoming a jewel in Hollywood’s crown, representing all the optimism of an iconic American film star with none of the bravado, Williams became an influential friend to so many, and none more so than Jack Nicholson, coming to his aid when the actor got caught out stoned on the stage of the 8th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards. Winning the category of Best Actor for About Schmidt, Nicholson ascended to the stage at the event with joint winner Daniel Day-Lewis, with the latter offering the stoned star the winning speech.

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Quite clearly cognitively impaired, Nicholson slurs his words and staggers to get them out at all before calling up his friend Robin Williams to do the speech for him. Taking the chance of improvisation like a dog to an open can of Pedigree chum, Williams took to the stage and proceeded to toy with the audience with his own quick-witted brand of humour. “What Jack is trying to say here… is he’s so happy to be here he could drop a log,” Williams announces as Nicholson watches onwards unsure of what to do with himself.

“Tell ’em, Jack. Tell ’em like it is, because you’re the Buddha of show business,” Williams adds, with the whole ordeal going on for a little over seven minutes as the audience welcomes the improvisation with a room full of laughter.

We hope and pray that something along these bonkers lines ever happens again at a major awards show, though unfortunately with the strict regulations at such shows, we fear nothing as magical as this will ever happen again.

Check out the hilarious video, below.