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To mark the 35th anniversary of Razzie powerhouse Howard the Duck, stars Lea Thompson and Chip Zien took a look back at the making of the 1986 live-action sci-fi comedy, which was a critical and commercial disaster. Zien, who voiced Howard, revealed that he became a last-minute addition when Williams dropped out after getting frustrated that he couldn't match his voice with the titular bird's animatronic beak.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Everett Collection Robin Williams; Howard the Duck
"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,'" Zien told The Hollywood Reporter. "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."
At the time, Williams was best known for playing the wacky alien Mork in the Happy Days spin-off series Mork & Mindy.
Produced by George Lucas and based on the Marvel Comics character, Howard the Duck was originally supposed to be an animated film, but it became a live-action movie because of a contractual obligation. It was a studio's first attempt at a theatrical Marvel release since the Captain America serial of 1944. The film received atrocious reviews, made less than $40 million at the box office, and won four Razzie Awards, including for Worst Picture.
The following year, Williams had his big-screen breakout in the surprise hit Good Morning, Vietnam, for which he scored his first Oscar nomination.