As the world mourns the unexpected death of beloved comedian and actor Robin Williams Monday, some of the people he worked with have connections to the Lehigh Valley, including to two of his final movies that have not yet been released.
Allentown native Tim Heidecker plays a crazy cousin who makes life even more difficult for a father played by Williams and his son played by Joel McHale in “Merry Friggin' Christmas.”
Heidecker who is known for the Adult Swim series “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job” and its follow-up movie “Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie,” with comedy partner Eric Wareheim, went out on his own for the comedy scheduled for release Nov. 7.
Heidecker said in an interview he plays a redneck cousin -- or as he calls it “the Randy Quaid role” -- in the comedy in which McHale’s Boyd Mitchler and his family must spend Christmas with his estranged family of misfits. Upon realizing that he left all his son's gifts at home, he hits the road with his dad in an attempt to make the 8-hour round trip before sunrise.
The local connection may be more tenuous, but Williams will reprise his role in the latest of the “Night at the Smithsonian” franchise in which he stars with Ben Stiller, who is married to Allentown’s Christine Taylor. Stiller stars in “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” in which Williams returns as Teddy Roosevelt. The movie, in which Stiller’s Larry leaves New York City for London on a quest to save the magic that lets the exhibits come to life, is set to release Dec. 19. Stiller also worked with Williams in 2009’s “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” and the 2006 original “Night at the Museum.”
Stiller took to Twitter to release a heartfelt statement about William’s death.
“A tweet cannot begin to describe the hugeness of Robin Williams heart and soul and talent. This is so sad,” Stiller wrote. “I met him when I was 13 and a huge fan and he was so kind and I watched him be kind to every fan I ever saw him with. And with other actors he was so generous and brilliant. He made everyone feel special and equal around him even though he was the genius. His heart was so big and even if you didn’t know him, what he gave everyone was that same spirit in his work, so we all felt it.”
Allentown native Amanda Seyfried also worked with Williams in last year’s comedy “The Big Wedding” in which William’s Father Moinighan officiates at the wedding of Seyfried’s Missy and Ben Barne’s Alejandro. The movie also starred Diane Keaton and Robert DeNiro as a divorced couple pretending to be married for the sake of their son’s wedding. Syfried is best known for the comedy “Mean Girls” and the movie musicals “Mamma Mia!’ and “Les Miserables.”
Alexie Gilmore, a 1999 graduate of Desales University in Center Valley, had to hold her own improvising with Robin Williams in the 2009 film “The World's Greatest Dad.” Gilmore played William's cheating girlfriend in the dark comedy written and directed Bobcat Goldthwait. In the story Williams is Lance Clayton, a high school poetry teacher who has to put up with indifferent students and his girlfriend, when his unpopular son played by Daryl Sabara, accidentally kills himself in an act of sexual experimentation, Williams character writes a fake suicide note to avoid embarrassment.