There are 972 Boxes Full of Robin Williams’ Outtakes from ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’

MRS. DOUBTFIRE, Robin Williams, 1993
20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

When you think of iconic Robin Williams movies, Mrs. Doubtfire will likely come to mind. Williams starred in the 1993 film as recently divorced Daniel Hillard who decided to disguise himself as an elderly female housekeeper named Mrs. Doubtfire as a way to continue to see his three children. Euphegenia Doubtfire became one of Williams’ most beloved characters. Now, the director Chris Columbus is opening up about working with the late Williams for the film’s 30th anniversary.

Columbus revealed that Williams improvised a lot of the film and over 2 million feet of film was shot during the making of the movie. He explained, “Early on in the process, he went to me, ‘Hey boss, the way I like to work, if you’re up for it, is I’ll give you three or four scripted takes, and then let’s play.’ By saying that, what he meant was he wanted to improvise. And that’s exactly how we shot every scene. We would have exactly what was scripted, and then Robin would go off and it was something to behold.”

MRS. DOUBTFIRE, Director Chris Columbus, Robin Williams, 1993

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

He added that while this made filming a lot of fun, there was one person on set who had a horrible job because of it. He shared, “The poor script supervisor. Remember, this is the early 1990s, she wasn’t typing what he was saying. She was handwriting it and Robin would change every take. So Robin would go to a place where he couldn’t remember much of what he said. We would go to the script supervisor and ask her and sometimes she didn’t even get it all. Often, he would literally give us a completely different take than what we did doing the written takes.”

Colombus admitted that they had to shoot the movie with four cameras just to keep up with all of Williams’ changes and ideas. They didn’t know what he was going to say next and they wanted to get genuine reactions from the rest of the cast. Columbus still has about 972 boxes of footage left over from Mrs. Doubtfire.

MRS. DOUBTFIRE, Sally Field, Robin Williams, Lisa Jakub, Matthew Lawrence, Mara Wilson, 1993

Everett Collection

He concluded, “There are roughly 972 boxes of footage from ‘Doubtfire’ — footage we used in the movie, outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage — in a warehouse somewhere and we would like to hire an editor to go in and look at all of that footage. We want to show Robin’s process. There is something special and magical about how he went about his work and I think it would be fun to delve into it. I mean, there’s 2 million feet of film in that warehouse so there could be something we can do with all of that.”

Watch Mrs. Doubtfire on Disney+.

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