The last time we saw Robin Williams and Pam Dawber together on a TV series, they were playing a married couple. What will be the relationship between the two when Dawber makes a guest appearance on her "Mork & Mindy" co-star's CBS comedy "The Crazy Ones"?
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During a press conference call, Dawber didn't want to spoil the pair's first scene together in more than 30 years, but she teased, "If people want to see Mork and Mindy together, they're going to see Mork and Mindy together. They will be very satisfied."
Williams added, "Oh, baby."
Dawber will play a writer named Lily on "The Crazy Ones," and her character becomes involved with Williams's ad exec character, Simon. The two, now 62, co-starred on sitcom classic "Mork & Mindy" for four seasons between 1978-82, but from their giggles while answering questions on the press call to their giddiness about how wonderful it was to work together again, it's clear fans shouldn't have any concerns about a lack of chemistry in their on-screen reunion.
"It was like an old shoe," Dawber said of reteaming with Williams (who quipped it was a shoe that "fits somewhat more loosely" now). "It's like in life, when you have an old friend... it doesn't matter if you don't see each other every week or every year, you just kind of connect on a level," Dawber said. "To be able to walk into the room for the reading and see Robin and reconnect with him was really like that. It was hard to believe it was that many years [since] we had really spent any time together. [It's] because there's a simpatico there between the two of us. We kind of picked right up again."
Added Williams, who worked with "The Crazy Ones" producer and Dawber's close friend, Bill D'Elia, to woo his "Mork" co-star to the CBS series, "She looks the same, which is so wonderful. It's like, 'Wow! Dawber, look at you!' [The chemistry] was immediate... It wasn't like, 'Oh, how do we get back again?' It was just like, 'We're back! We're doing this again.'"
Dawber was also drawn to the guest spot and the reunion with Williams because of the script, saying she told D'Elia she would be interested "as long as there's something to do, and there's a character, and it's not just setting up everybody else's jokes, which is essentially what I did on 'Mork & Mindy.'"
But getting her to any TV set was no small thing. Dawber has been mostly MIA from TV land for nearly 15 years, sharing that she chose to focus on her family life.
"Well, I'm married to Mark Harmon, who's been on ['NCIS'] for 12 years. We have two children [Sean, 25, and Ty, 21], and I had my last child in my 40s. There's a point where something has to give," Dawber said. "I had really come to a decision where I had had the opportunity to do just about everything you can do in show business. And I really wanted to stay home and raise my kids... I wanted to be home, I wanted to make them dinner, I wanted to drive them to school, and participate in that part of life.
"And, you know, show biz had changed, too. The TV movie business, which is what worked for me as a mother, being able to go away once or twice a year and do a TV movie... those went away. So I didn't want to go back to any sort of series work, because I would never see my husband, I would never see my kids. So I quit. I went back briefly but just felt like if I want to stay married — and I've been married 27 years — something's gotta give. You can have it all, but you just can't have it all at the same time. And I like being home when my husband comes home."
The actress, who also starred in the 1986-88 CBS comedy "My Sister Sam," was quick to point out that her guest spot on "The Crazy Ones" isn't going to lead to any regular series work. The early morning call times alone are enough to ensure she might accept a role "every now and then, but certainly not as a regular diet," she said.
But she did enjoy the experience of working with Williams and his new cast mates enough to hope for a future for Lily and Simon.
"Hopefully there will be a little more," she said. "Hopefully this will get big ratings, and Lily can come back every now and then."
A few more fun revelations from the Dawber/Williams chat:
* Dawber said she was surprised so many fans are still interested in "Mork & Mindy." "I have to say, I've been blown away over the fact that people even care. This is just a personal quest for me. And then suddenly there was excitement about the two of us. I guess I just thought 'Mork & Mindy' was so over and such a long time ago. I'm warmed and thrilled that people are excited, and hopefully they'll love this moment in time when we come back together."
* Though she spent just two days filming her role on "The Crazy Ones," she said she could tell "it's a really happy cast." She also noted that while on "Mork & Mindy," which was filmed in front of an audience, that show's cast spent a lot of time together backstage, constantly preparing for the performance like it was a play. At "The Crazy Ones," which is not filmed in front of an audience, Dawber said the cast members spent a good deal of time on their iPhones and iPads.
* After Dawber pointed out to him that there are a lot of "Mork & Mindy" clips on YouTube that focus on the two of them making out, Williams said, "I've got to go check this out, really quickly, right now."
* Dawber's son Sean and his girlfriend, both aspiring actors and both Williams fans, visited her on "The Crazy Ones" set and met her co-star. "A couple of years ago [Sean] said, 'Mom, do you think I'll ever be able to meet Robin Williams?' I had met Robin's kids, but my son was so young. He had been on the set of 'Hook' — Dustin [Hoffman] had carried him around on his shoulders dressed like Captain Hook. He remembered that, but he doesn't really remember anything else, because he was so little. So he and his girlfriend came to the set. And his girlfriend is such a fan of Robin's, so we kept it a secret from her... She had no idea who she was going to meet or what this was about. So for her, it was really one of those life memories."
* While reminiscing about "Mork & Mindy" and their late co-star Jonathan Winters, who played Mork and Mindy's "Benjamin Button"-ish son Mearth, Dawber said she pointed out a scary statistic. "I said, 'Robin, do you realize we are older now than Jonathan was when he came on 'Mork & Mindy'? And Robin went 'Whoa!' And I said, 'And I thought he was an old dude then!'"
Williams also pointed out, "We have children who are as old as we were when we started ['Mork & Mindy']."
"Yes, we do! Well, you do," she teased.
See Winters in "Mork & Mindy" as Mearth:
* Dawber also shared how crazy their sudden fame on "Mork & Mindy" was back in the '70s and '80s, as she remembered filming the series' opening credits for Season 1, "climbing on goalposts, driving the jeeps," and people not really paying a lot of attention to what they were doing. When they made a trip to Boulder, Colorado, where the series was set, to film some exteriors for Season 2, they found things had changed. "Pretty soon we're pulling in, and there's people lining up, and they're screaming for Mork and Mindy. It was like the fricking Beatles were in town! And so our lives changed in such a big way so fast." Williams, who was still traveling around the country as a standup comic, was like a rock star, Dawber said, and she had her own wild experiences with fans, including one time when she and a friend had to climb out of the bathroom window at a restaurant to get dinnertime privacy.
Watch the Season 1 opening credits:
* What do Dawber and Williams think Mork and Mindy would be doing today? "Cable?" Dawber said. "It would be a whole different show."
Added Williams: "It would be the R-rated 'Mork & Mindy.'"
"The Crazy Ones" airs April 10 at 9:30 p.m. on CBS.