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Robin Williams
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Robin Williams on returning to TV, getting sober, and downsizing in his 60s

Parade

In this weekend's issue, Parade visits Robin Williams, who is returning to TV in his first series since he gained fame in "Mork & Mindy" more than 30 years ago. The beloved actor, 62, plays an unorthodox adman in CBS's "The Crazy Ones" (starting Sept. 26) co-starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as his daughter and ad agency partner. "We needed an actor who could convey genius, insanity, and comedy, tempered with humanity," says series creator David E. Kelley ("Ally McBeal"). "Robin was the first and only choice."

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Read excerpts from the wide-ranging interview below, and be sure to check out Parade this weekend for the full story.

On what it's like being back on TV:
"It's fun. I'm having such a blast doing it with Sarah. She's a sweet woman. And the idea of a father-daughter relationship -- since I have a daughter, I've done the research on that."

On why this was the right time to return after 31 years:
"The idea of having a steady job is appealing. I have two [other] choices: go on the road doing stand-up, or do small, independent movies working almost for scale [minimum union pay]. The movies are good, but a lot of times they don't even have distribution. There are bills to pay. My life has downsized, in a good way. I'm selling the ranch up in Napa. I just can't afford it anymore."

On whether he lost all his money in his two divorces:
"Well, not all. Lost enough. Divorce is expensive. I used to joke they were going to call it 'all the money,' but they changed it to 'alimony.' It's ripping your heart out through your wallet. Are things good with my exes? Yes. But do I need that lifestyle? No."

On whether he felt betrayed by Lance Armstrong, who had been a friend:
"It wasn't just Lance. [Most of the] team was doping. I haven't seen him since one of the last Livestrong benefits, I think just before the Oprah interview. It was literally like a wake for someone who was still alive, this overall feeling that the dream was over."

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On relapsing into drinking, 20 years after getting sober, while filming "The Big White":
"One day I walked into a store and saw a little bottle of Jack Daniel's. And then that voice -- I call it the 'lower power' -- goes, 'Hey. Just a taste. Just one.' I drank it, and there was that brief moment of 'Oh, I'm OK!' But it escalated so quickly. Within a week I was buying so many bottles I sounded like a wind chime walking down the street. I knew it was really bad one Thanksgiving when I was so drunk they had to take me upstairs."

On his family intervening to get him into rehab in 2006:
"It was not an intervention so much as an ultimatum. Everyone kind of said, 'You've got to do this.' And I went, 'Yeah, you're right.'"

On why he's done USO tours for our troops:
"I do those because it's like the real version of 'Good Morning, Vietnam,' meeting people and seeing what I can do to help. They're the best audiences I've ever had. The most powerful experience is visiting the wounded in hospitals. A friend of mine's doing a program in San Francisco at a veterans' hospital, getting them to do improv comedy as therapy. And it's really helping. Comedy can be a cathartic way to deal with personal trauma."

On whether, looking back, he has regrets:
"No. Regrets don't help."

Related links from Parade:
Robin Williams Discusses His First Experience with Alcoholics Anonymous at Parade.com 
Robin Williams Dishes About His Most Memorable Roles: Filming Mrs. Doubtfire Was 'A Bit Like Demonic Possession'