Robin Williams

Why Robin Williams Quit His Role as Howard the Duck After Filming Started

Howard the Duck voice actor Chip Zien explains why the late Robin Williams left the Marvel movie's title role during post-production.

Robin Williams was meant to provide the voice for the animatronic lead of 1986’s Howard the Duck, but once on set, he realized how frustrating the project would be.

While speaking to THR, eventual Howard the Duck actor Chip Zien discussed Williams’ departure from the Marvel film, explaining that Williams quit due to the frustration that came with having to sync his voice with Howard’s bill. In addition, a voice for Howard had not yet been cast during production, resulting in Howard’s lines being read by the puppeteers and the bill moving to fit their delivery. This meant that Robin Williams could not use his improvisational skills when he arrived for post-production.

“What I was told was by the third day, Robin said, ‘I can’t do this. It is insane. I can’t get the rhythm of this. I am being confined. I am being handcuffed in order to match the flapping duck’s bill,'” Zien said. “So, on Memorial Day 1985, I got a call from my agent who said, ‘You have to get right to the airport! Robin Williams just quit and you’re now Howard the Duck. You need to get there tonight. There is a ticket waiting for you at the counter.’ I was incredibly excited.”

Aside from his 1986 film, Howard the Duck has also made cameos in both Guardians of the Galaxy films, as well as Avengers: Endgame. The character was also slated to star in an animated series on Hulu and will next appear on What If…?

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