Maybe it’s all those hours of practice in their trailers, or maybe it’s because they can afford special tailor-made, gold-plated controllers that allow for extra torque. Whatever the reason, it’s a fact that many of the biggest names in Hollywood are also gigantic gaming freaks who could totally pwn your butt in a first-person shooter.
Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro often take each other on at Call Of Duty: World At War (Jackson once revealed to Empire that they particularly dig the Nazi-zombie add-on level). J. J. Abrams is a massive fan of the Uncharted series, to the point that he’s promised a role in Star Trek 2 to voice star Nolan North. And Vin Diesel can often be found down a mine in World Of Warcraft.
But perhaps the biggest gaming geek of all is Robin Williams, who is so into Nintendo’s Legend Of Zelda franchise that he travels the world promoting the games, even though he has nothing to do with their creation. Empire recently met up with Williams and his daughter Zelda (yes, she’s named after the pixel princess) in a Knightsbridge hotel to find out why Link still rocks their world.
Do you remember your first time playing Zelda? Robin: Vividly. I remember solving puzzles and running around cutting shrubbery. It was one of the first games where you could transform the environment: pushing things, hacking things, working your way around this magical land. The first one was a top-down scroller. I remember thinking that was really cool. I liked fighting creatures, but the puzzles were the most fun aspect for me.
Zelda, before you played your first game, were you nervous that you’d disappoint your dad by not liking it? Zelda: Oh no…
Robin: You and your brother Mario!
Zelda: No, the first one I remember really sitting down and playing was Majora’s Mask. I had played Ocarina Of Time a bit, but the one I played through was Majora’s. It came out in either ’99 or 2000 — at that time I was of an age where I could actually finish it and not have to get help or use one of the help books. Plus you got to put bunny ears on Link, which was very entertaining for me! And they had that really weird cross-dressing mask, the Kafei mask, with the purple hair and the geisha face. It was really funny.
Robin: (Does impression of Japanese commercial) "Transform your character! Cross-dressing is so hero!"
Is there an aspect of the game that frustrates you? Zelda: I sometimes get irritated with the dungeons. For me, I prefer the collection games. Finding all the gold Skulltulas, all that stuff.
Robin: Oh, that’s right - the skulls! The creepy spiders with the skull face. I love those guys.
Zelda: You get badges for collecting them in Ocarina. And it was really hard to solve, because you realise that you’ve missed one and have to go back and start climbing trees to find it.
Robin: The amazing thing is that they’ve added more and more things that you need to do. First it was the bow and arrow, then the sling-shot…
Zelda: Now there’s a whip, in Skyward Sword. You beat a boss and open a box and there’s a whip in it. It’s really funny too because it’s like a lightsaber whip — it’s lit. And you’re swinging it with the Wiimote and have to whip something to pull it towards you. It’s really fun.
Robin: Isn’t there a rope that you use for climbing?
Zelda: No, it’s a scarab beetle that you send out. You see from the point-of-view of the beetle and you have to guide it.
Robin: That’s right! It cuts through stuff. And there’s bullet-cam in some of the shooting games too.
Have you played the new game yet? Robin: No, it’s just come out. I have to set up a Wii station at home, because they’ve sent me a copy but I haven’t got it set up yet. I’m going to hook it up to one of the flatscreen TVs, sit back and say: (growls) “Get ready…”
Zelda: I’ve been filming non-stop so I haven’t had time to do even a little gaming, let alone play one all the way through. But I’m looking forward to it. It’s really beautiful.
Robin: The DS is amazing these days. The 3D is really great on that thing. It’s getting so vivid.
There’s been talk of a Zelda movie for a long time. Who would you cast? Zelda: I was thinking about this! It’s difficult, because Link doesn’t speak. And if they were to make a Zelda movie, I guess they’d have to age him up to be in his early 20s or something. It would be like Lord Of The Rings, I suppose.
Robin: It would have to be CG-ed up like crazy. I mean, obviously you’d be the princess, right? I’d want to be the villain, Ganandorf.
Zelda: Who would you have play Link, though?
Robin: I’ve blanked on his name. Who played Legolas?
Zelda: Orlando Bloom.
Robin: Right. Remember the Golden Globes?
Zelda: Oh no.
Robin: It was back when she was little and she had such a crush on Orlando Bloom.
Zelda: I was like 14.
Robin: We were there to present something and I said, "Come on, I want you to meet him." I brought Orlando over to her and said, (in Gollum voice) "This is Legolas — my daughter. Meet the precioussss!"
Robin: They’d have to be sweet-faced but also an action hero, so it’s tough casting.
Zelda: Maybe Garret Hedlund. Or Charlie Hunnam. I’m trying to think of blond actors who can be both tough and sweet. Jamie Bell would be a great choice.
Robin: He was wonderful in Tintin. But I do hope the movie happens someday. It would be a huge undertaking.
Zelda: I was mortified! Back then, he would have made quite a good Link — he’s so sweet and charming but also fresh-faced. But it would have to be someone younger now.
Do you play a lot of other videogames? Robin: Oh yes. Recently I’ve played through the new Call Of Duty, the campaign. I’ve played through Battlefield 3, the campaign. That one’s brutal. I can’t do multi-player because I get my ass kicked by a ten year-old. (In squeaky dweeb voice) “You’re my bitch! I’m in Oklahoma, but you don’t need to know that…” I get relentlessly ‘pwned’ for a minute, and then I just go, “That’s it!” It’s weird, I’ve been to Afghanistan to do shows and it’s weird — you go visit bases and these guys come back from combat patrols and start shooting guns on the Xbox. I go, "Dude, you’ve just been doing this for real. What are you doing?" "Just trying to relax!" (Laughs) But the interactive stuff on the Wii is the best. Wii Tennis is so much fun. I always get a cramp in my hand after playing it. You burn some serious calories, man!
The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword is out now for the Nintendo Wii. For more from Robin Williams, see the next issue of Empire, out December 20.