Batty-man Robin

In the black-comedy Death to Smoochy, Robin Williams, Edward Norton and Danny DeVito unearth the dark world of children’s television.

Williams, who will do anything to solicit laughter, and a quieter DeVito (who operates mostly behind the camera) make for a strong comedic pair.

“Never get a dog from a methe lab. Know that.” said Williams during a telephone interview as his dog barked.

In addition to being the film’s director, DeVito plays Smoochy’s sneaky agent, complete with a creepy little moustache.

Williams plays Rainbow Randolph, star of a children’s’ program, who loses his show to Smoochy the Rhino (Norton) after a public scandal. With his character out of the spotlight, Williams hops on the crazy train and plots Smoochy’s demise in an attempt to get his job back.

Williams said the role was liberating after doing a long string of family roles, a way to “exercise the demons.”

He said because he wanted to play a dark character for a while, he jumped at the chance to play Rudolph after reading the script. “I laughed my ass off when I read it,” he said.

“Between the substance abuse issues and his own sexuality – he doesn’t know what’s going on,” said Williams, “I did the research in the ’70s, so it’s good to get it out.”

Williams said it was great to finally get to work with DeVito as a director. “There are no boundaries with him, there’s not even little road cones,” he said, “He’s not afraid of anything, that’s why I wanted to do it.”

DeVito said, as a director he tries to “stretch the envelope” and take things to the extreme.

“Its more exciting for you as an artist to take that risk as long as you’re not hurting anyone,” he said

DeVito said movies are a good way to speak to the public. “I try to use the camera in any way I can to comment or to bring my own feelings into the piece,” he said.

DeVito said he tries to be believably funny in all the work he does. “You have to have a barometer inside to gage how far you’re going,” he said. He said as a director, it’s important to be respectful of the script and focus on the characters’ sensibilities.

DeVito said although he was disappointed not to have a scene with Williams, he had fun making the movie and was excited about it because it was so original.

– Robyn Repya