Why Robin Williams Didn’t Look Like Himself on His ‘Whose Line is it Anyway’ Guest Spot

Robin Williams will always be remembered as one of the greatest improv comedians that ever lived. During his lifetime, the celebirty earned two Emmys, four Golden Globes, and five Grammys.

The comedic legend also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Good Will Hunting and received three Academy Award nominations for his starring roles in Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, and The Fisher King. His beloved voiceover work as the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin will be a never-ending reminder of his impeccable talent.

Williams managed to retain his classic good looks from back in the early days of television’s Mork and Mindy. The brown hair, long nose, kind eyes, and gentle smile created his iconic style.

In 2002, Williams appeared on the popular improv comedy show, Whose Line is it Anyway. Strangely, those iconic looks had disappeared, and he was almost unrecognizable.

What is ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’

Robin Williams
Robin Williams | Peter Kramer/Getty Images

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Comedian Drew Carey hosted the British spinoff from 1998 to 2007. Series regulars included Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, and Ryan Stiles. There was always a fourth player who was a different guest star each week.

The cast would act out scenes, create characters, or sing on cue from prompts given by the host. Sometimes the audience would offer suggestions, and the comedians would improvise the situation on the spot.

The games varied each episode with season favorites that included “Scenes from a Hat” and “Helping Hands.”

Williams guest star appearance

Williams knack for situational comedy made him a perfect fit for Whose Line is it Anyway? He appeared on the show only once in 2000 during Season 3. He fit into the troupe flawlessly, and even though he was the most famous actor on the stage, he came off as just one of the guys.

Williams’ portrayal of an Italian chef had the audience roaring with laughter. His one-liners were incessant, and the chemistry he developed with the cast was undeniable.

Despite William’s hilarious performance, there was a glaring change to his appearance. His classic good looks and brown wavy hair had been replaced with an extremely blonde short cut. He looked so different that at first glance he appeared to be an entirely different person.

Why the change in looks?

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During the taping of the episode, Williams was working on the motion picture One Hour Photo. In the thriller, he plays a troubled film processing clerk obsessed with his customer’s photos. His character has balding short bleach blonde hair and wears wire-rim glasses.

The creepy persona matches his disturbing role in this very non-comedic role.

Williams was so convincing playing Sy Parrish that people forgot it was him they were watching. Not only did he change his hair color, but he was asked to shave his arms and upper chest to get the look the director was going for.

It seems extreme, but Williams was up for the challenge to create a multi-dimensional character that was unlike anything he had ever done before.

Williams untimely death

In 2014 per Variety, much to the shock and dismay of fans around the world, Williams died by suicide, dying at the age of 63. It was later discovered that he had a long history of battling anxiety and depression.

Before his death, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, which later the coroner revealed was Lewy body dementia, which is an incurable brain disorder with an apparent risk of suicide. William’s health and demeanor quickly deteriorated and for months before his death friends and family were worried about his morale.

Sadly, he lost his fight but will never be forgotten as the man that made so many people smile helping them to get through their own hard times.