Mork & Buffy: Robin Williams joins Sarah Michelle Gellar for 'The Crazy Ones'
This publicity image released by CBS shows Robin Williams, left, and Sarah Michelle Gellar in a scene from the pilot episode of "The Crazy Ones," a new CBS comedy premiering Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9 p.m. EST. (AP / CBS, Richard Cartwright)
Published Monday, September 23, 2013 12:07PM EDT
TORONTO -- Trying to be funny on a show starring Robin Williams is seriously hard.
But the comedy legend proved generous with the jokes on his much-anticipated new sitcom, "The Crazy Ones," co-star James Wolk said in an interview this summer.
"He could take this train away and run with it," Wolk said of the movie star's return to network TV this week.
"And by the way he does run with it -- but he takes us with him."
Williams stars as wacky advertising executive Simon Roberts, who works with his straitlaced daughter and business partner, Sydney, played by "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" star Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Wolk plays Simon's right-hand man, Zach Cropper, a blindly confident, cocksure ad copywriter who helps provide much of the show's silliness.
"The heart of the show comes from (Gellar) and Robin playing father and daughter," added Wolk, whose other roles have largely been in cable dramas: as con man Bob Benson in "Mad Men" and the dutiful president's son in the short-lived "Political Animals."
One of the challenges of working in comedy is keeping a straight face, especially when working with Williams, he noted.
"The (first) big scene we shot together was a scene where we go to pitch Kelly Clarkson on doing a jingle for our company and it was in that scene that the improv just exploded and I couldn't keep a straight face," Wolk said during a promotional visit to Toronto in June.
"I was laughing through the entire scene and (Williams) laughs, too. He has just as much fun with it as anybody else. He's like a kid out there."
Veteran couch potatoes will remember that well before his eclectic movie career, Williams shot to fame as the off-the-wall alien Mork on the late '70s/early '80s sitcom "Mork & Mindy."
His return to the small screen is among the highlights of a crop of fall comedies that also includes new offerings from Michael J. Fox, Will Arnett, Andy Samberg and Anna Faris.
The Chicago-set series, created by David E. Kelley, will be part of a competitive Thursday night lineup, helped along this week by a double-header lead-in of "The Big Bang Theory" on CBS and an hour-long "Parks and Recreation" on City.
Its competition includes the much-touted "The Michael J. Fox Show" on NBC and Global, a Beatles-themed episode of "Glee" on Fox and Global, and a two-hour "Grey's Anatomy" season premiere on ABC and CTV.
Although it's a scripted series, "The Crazy Ones" offers plenty of opportunities for Williams to run gleefully off the rails, said Wolk.
"There is a great deal of improv and a lot of fun stuff that was just kind of born out of the given circumstances of the scenes," Wolk said of the first episode.
"There's encouragement to (improvise), and at the same time, the scripts are so great that we want to do them justice and read those words as well."
"American Idol" winner Clarkson appears in the first episode, and Wolk mused on the possibility of more famous cameos down the line. The show is inspired by a real advertising agency out of Chicago that deals with high-level pop stars and athletes, he noted.
"So I think one of the fun things about our show is we will get to interact with people like that," he teased.
"The Crazy Ones" debuts Thursday on CBS and City.