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June 2007
LICENSE TO WED | An Interview w/Robin Williams

LICENSE TO WED | An Interview w/Robin Williams

by Ife Thomas

June 27, 2007

Forget happily ever after--do they have what it takes to make it to the altar? This is the perennial question explored in the Warner Brothers Pictures romantic comedy, “License to Wed,” directed by Ken Kwapis, and starring Robin Williams, Mandy Moore and John Kranski. Young and optimistically in love, newly engaged couple, Ben and Sadie, played by Moore and Kranski, are anxious to tie the knot. But, before they can walk down the aisle in the bride-to-be’s family church, they have to pass the marriage prep course given by Reverend Frank, played by the irreverent Robin Williams.

Of course, trying to interview the comedic force of nature is kind of like the emotional rollercoaster of a marriage itself: delightful and fun, with moments of frustration and challenge. In classic Williams style, he riffs with Blackfilm.com about the challenges of marriage, what if felt like to wear a collar, and several other possibly-offensive-to-the-readers topics that will remain only on this writer’s digital recorder. Still, we hope you enjoy our very edited version…

BF: Why did you gravitate to this project? Other then the idea of getting to really have fun with the idea of being a Reverend with a quirky agenda…

RW: For the characters mostly, and the idea that Reverend Frank is genuinely trying to help people. He creates simulated exercises and scenarios that a young couple might not even think about or have to deal with until they’re already married, when it’s too late. But, if a couple doesn’t drop out and actually graduates his class, they’ll be one step closer to living happily ever after.

BF: What’d the collar do for you, putting that on?

RW: When I put the collar on it reminded me, first of all, that I’m a Protestant. Which is Episcopal, Catholic-lik. Same religion, half the guilt, (laughs)…a covered dish. (In a character voice), My people who don’t believe in the whole celibacy thing, we believe that confession involves a gin and tonic on Thanksgiving…(laughter)

BF: So there are two rules Reverend Frank’s course requires be followed: Rule Number One, they must write their own wedding vows only to be revealed at the ceremony. Rule Number Two, effective immediately, there is no more sex until the honeymoon!

RW: Rule Number Two is, without a doubt, one of the hardest rules to follow for a modern couple, and that’s the beauty of the prep course. I especially like the idea of putting a young couple’s relationship to the test that way. Let’s just take that tool out of your toolbox and see what you have left! In the beginning of a typical relationship, the sex is everywhere, but after about 15 or 20 years, it’s another story. Reverend Frank owes the high success rate of his class to his commitment to helping couples discover what it is in their relationship that will give it the staying power it needs to last through the years.

BF: Watching the film, we know that eventually they will get married, so you know where it’s going. Do you tweak that and still try to make the journey interesting and hopeful for the audience? Do you want them to be happy in the end?

RW: Well, yeah you hope for that just like everyone when they get married…I think you want it to work and find out what is it about this, and what do they need to know that might help them increase the survival rate, like Rev. Frank says, you know, when you’ve got a rate of 50%, or maybe higher of first marriages not lasting. Because besides lust, what else are you going into the equation with? Besides, “Ok, really, she’s got a great ass.” Ok, well imagine that ass 30 years from now! (laughter) Now, ok what else? “Ok, ummm…gimme a moment…ok, she makes me laugh.” Ahhh, that’s a good thing. Then you got yourself, maybe long term odds, that’s good! Cause it’s like, what are the things about each other that you like that don’t involve exchange of bodily fluids? You know, that is the stuff that’s interesting to see...the ability to fight and not cause bodily harm. Even though some couples would go, “Occasionally that works…” But, I think the idea of learning other skills--that’s not a bad thing to have out there.

BF: What are some signs that your relationship is not going to work out?

RW: If you’re basically fighting about everything, then that’s not a great idea. If you find yourself going, ‘What am I doing?’ a lot of times--that’s difficult. It’s also hard too because sometimes a lot of your friends are going, “What are you doing with that guy?” But, it’s the idea of what do you really like and what do you want…and a lot of times relationships can be judged, like even in the movie Knocked Up, when people are going, “Who is this schlub? This goof up…” What do you know? That’s what intimacy is; it’s that stuff between you two that nobody else knows--that’s the good stuff. And the bad stuff too.









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