Film Scouts Diaries

1997 Cannes Film Festival Diaries
Day 9: Robin Williams's Announcement

by Richard Schwartz

CANNES, May 15 -- Whereas Cannes was once the exclusive domain of actors and filmmakers with features in competition, the festival has increasingly become a launching pad for new projects as studios clamor to exploit the large media presence by announcing upcoming films. Ever since Stallone and Schwarzenegger began the trend about a decade ago, some 4,000 journalists have seen their Cannes calendars filled with less screenings and more press conferences designed to generate excitement for films that have not yet even entered the pre-production phase.

This year's major announcement took place Thursday at the Majestic Hotel as Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding, Jr. announced their participation in "What Dreams May Come," a big-budget fantasy about the afterlife to be directed by Vincent ("Map of the Human Heart") Ward. Also starring Annabella Sciorra, the story talks about a man who dies in an accident and must travel through heaven and hell to be reunited with his wife. Academy Award-winner Gooding will play the guide who accompanies Williams' lost soul through the mystical Summerland.

"It's a love story," said Ward, who has had two films in Cannes competition during his relatively young career. "It's a very human story. It's not a comedy, but it has comedic elements."

An estimated $70 million budget will help cover the film's expensive special effects created by an award-winning team of technicians headed by cinematographer Eduardo Serra.

"The visuals are stunning, along with this amazing emotional stuff," Williams said. "If we're going to use the effects, we might as well go to heaven and hell."

The half-hour press conference was dominated by the witty repartee between Gooding and Williams. Gooding said the chemistry between the actors was apparent to him when they did a read-through together for "Jerry Maguire" a couple years back.

"That was a fun three hours," Gooding said, "so I thought four months would be amazing."

Ward sat back and enjoyed the banter of his two main actors, joking that he was "terrified" to be on set with them.

"I'm hoping they'll tell me what we're going to do and I can keep up with them," Ward quipped.

Cameras are set to roll on the Polygram production late next month in San Francisco and Montana. The studio anticipates a fall 1998 release date.

More from Robin Williams...

On Cannes: "It's like Disneyland by Dante."

On co-star Gooding's famous catchphrase: "Today's he walking around the streets of Cannes yelling, 'Show me the Monet!'"

On his past bouts with depression: "I'm playing in the Prozac amateur open..."

On cloning: "They've been doing it in the deep south for years. It's called cousins."

On his dreams: "My dreams are pretty vivid to the point where Freud would go 'give up.' The dancing penis one is pretty amazing... They could make another movie and call it 'Wet Dreams May Come.'"

On a possible sequel to "Mrs. Doubtfire," his 1995 hit: "'Mrs. Doubtfire -- she's back and she's pissed. She's packing heat'... I don't think [a sequel will be made], the make-up is so hard to do."

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