Why Robin Williams Returned to TV: He Needed the Money!

Fall TV

It's been almost 30 years since Robin Williams starred on a television series. In that time, he built a successful movie career, earned four Academy Award nominations, and won the golden trophy for his performance in "Good Will Hunting."

So why is Williams now returning to the small screen in the new CBS comedy "The Crazy Ones"? Money. 

Watch a preview of "The Crazy Ones": 

After two divorces, the actor, 62, says he doesn't have as much cash as he used to."The idea of having a steady job is appealing," he tells Parade in a new interview. "I have two [other] choices: go on the road doing stand-up, or do small, independent movies working almost for scale [minimum union pay]. The movies are good, but a lot of times they don't even have distribution."

Williams continues, "There are bills to pay. My life has downsized, in a good way. I'm selling the ranch up in Napa [Calif.] I just can't afford it anymore."

He once quipped, "Ah yes, divorce, from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man's genitals through his wallet."

He now tells Parade he hasn't lost everything from his splits (his marriage to Valerie Velardi ended in 1988; his 2008 divorce from Marsha Garces reportedly set him back more than $30 million). But he says he's definitely lost enough.

[Related: Sarah Michelle Gellar Really Is Among 'The Crazy Ones' — She Stalked Robin Williams for a Part!]

"Divorce is expensive. I used to joke they were going to call it 'all the money,' but they changed it to 'alimony,'" Williams said. "It's ripping your heart out through your wallet."

But he insists he's not bitter.

"Are things good with my exes? Yes. But do I need that lifestyle? No," says Williams, who's been wed to graphic designer Susan Schneider since 2011.

Williams also credits his temperance for keeping him on the right path. He opens up about relapsing after 20 years of sobriety. "One day I walked into a store and saw a little bottle of Jack Daniel's," he recounts. "And then that voice — I call it the 'lower power' — goes, 'Hey. Just a taste. Just one.' I drank it, and there was that brief moment of 'Oh, I'm OK!' But it escalated so quickly." Within a week, he adds, "I was buying so many bottles I sounded like a wind chime walking down the street."

After his family expressed concern in 2006, he cleaned up his act. "It was not an intervention so much as an ultimatum," he explains. "Everyone kind of said, 'You've got to do this.' And I went, 'Yeah, you're right.'"

[Related: See Which New Shows Are Joining the CBS Lineup This Fall]

As for "The Crazy Ones," Williams says he's ready to begin a new chapter in his career. On the David E. Kelley-produced comedy, he plays an over-the-top ad exec, with Sarah Michelle Gellar ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") playing his daughter.

"It's fun. I'm having such a blast doing it with Sarah. She's a sweet woman," he raved. "And the idea of a father-daughter relationship — since I have a daughter [Zelda, 24], I've done the research on that." 

Robin Williams talks about his character on "The Crazy Ones":

"The Crazy Ones" premieres Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. on CBS.  

Check out photos from the CBS 2013 Upfront: