A new day has come for Robin Williams. But not the sunny sort you hear Celine Dion singing about! Switching career gears, the funnyman is coming out with a string of nasty new film roles — in the just-opened Death to Smoochy and the upcoming Insomnia and One Hour Photo. "For me, it is like Picasso's blue period," he muses in a dopey French accent. "I do a dark period now. I'm going into my orange period next..."

But seriously, folks. "These have been dark movies," Williams says. "I asked my agent to look for one — he found three. Three really strange, bizarre pieces that are dark. I think they work on that level where people think, 'Oh, that's that nice man' and then it turns creepier, stranger and more disturbing."

Has Williams turned to the Dark Side to shed the residual schmaltz from his "feel-good" flicks like Patch Adams and What Dreams May Come? "I just wanted to play a villain," he says. "I never got a chance to play them except years ago in Dead Again, where I played... kind of a defrocked psychiatrist. In a weird way, it's so freeing to do that, because [villains are not] bound by the normal moral rules." (Translation: yes.)

Still, he's clearly mindful of not overdoing the sinister roles the way he did those syrupy ones. "If you keep doing dark, dark characters, then the surprise is gone," Williams points out. "So then, it'll be up to me to find something else."