Old pals Robin Williams and Pam Dawber have found themselves sitting across from each other on a soundstage nearly 32 years after shooting the final episode of Mork & Mindy, their seminal 1970s sitcom about a hyper but lovable alien from the planet Ork who falls for a charming girl next door.
"Pretty amazing, huh?" says Williams, 63. "Yeah," sighs Dawber, 62, whose guest spot marks her first acting role in 14 years.
The two are shooting a scene for the April 10 episode of Williams's hit CBS comedy, The Crazy Ones, which finds his Simon trying to break things off with the travel writer he's been dating (Dawber). When Simon later changes his mind and tries to woo her back, she accuses him of acting "like an alien." (While the actors nixed any reference to "shazbot" or "na-nu na-nu," they say CBS insisted on at least one nod to their classic series.)
Since their sitcom ended, Williams and Dawber have seen each other on only a few occasions (on the set of Williams's 1991 film Hook and at a Big Brothers Big Sisters charity event she brought him to), but both slide easily back into the breezy camaraderie that made Mork and Mindy one of TV's most memorable couples.
TV Guide Magazine: Did you ever think you would work together again?
Dawber: My son said a couple of years ago, "Mom, do you think I'll ever get to meet Robin Williams?" And I told him, "I hope I get to meet Robin Williams." [Laughs]
Williams: It's like we never left. And she looks the same! When she showed up the first day, I said, "Dawber Dog — you're back!"
TV Guide Magazine: Has it been difficult for you to avoid slipping back into your old characters while filming this episode?
Williams: Not at all. Simon is a totally different guy than Mork was, with a totally different voice.
Dawber: And was Mindy ever this developed? Let's get serious. She was just kind of there because she had to be. She didn't even have a job for two years. I didn't play ball with ABC at the time. I wouldn't do [guest spots on] Battle of the Network Stars or The Love Boat. So they were pretty pissed off at me and didn't help me out.
Williams: But you made that show work. You made it safe for me. You were incredible.
Dawber: We would crack each other up.
TV Guide Magazine: Why didn't you ever get a chance to shoot a farewell episode when Mork & Mindy ended?
Williams: I remember vividly that I was in a giant frog suit shooting Faerie Tale Theatre's "The Frog Prince" when I read in the trades that our show was canceled. I got so pissed. They had never seen a more angry frog.
TV Guide Magazine: What do you imagine happened to Mork and Mindy? Do you think they stayed together?
Williams: Oh, I think so. But if you go by Orkan aging rules, Mork would be a fetus by now. [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: Pam, your last TV credit was in 1999. What have you been up to?
Dawber: Raising my children. [Dawber and husband Mark Harmon have two sons, Sean, 25, and Ty, 21.] Mark was doing Chicago Hope and then NCIS, so I had my tap shoes on for everybody. But I liked driving my kids to school. That was when we would have our sex talks — when they didn't have to look at me!
Williams: Too bad the GPS couldn't do that.
TV Guide Magazine: So how did you now land on The Crazy Ones?
Williams: I suggested her but thought, "If it happens, wonderful." I wasn't sure we'd get her.
TV Guide Magazine: Pam, what did Mark think about your reuniting with Robin?
Dawber: Oh, he said, "Pammy, I'm just so happy." He knows how I have doubted myself. But Mark is the most supportive husband. He's so proud.
Williams: He was very lovely with me when I called and asked, "Are you OK with me being with your wife?"
TV Guide Magazine: Your characters on The Crazy Ones have a complicated relationship. How do they meet?
Williams: She's an author I met at a book signing. I fall for her and it's very impulsive. But it doesn't work out, which is bittersweet. But I would love for her to come back again. It'd be amazing.
Dawber: To be able to come back every now and then would be wonderful!
TV Guide Magazine: Pam, how else is the character you're playing different from Mindy?
Dawber: Oh, my gosh, she has something to do! [Laughs] When the producers put their toes in the water and asked if I wanted to do this, I told them, "Only if there's never a Mindy-like line where she says, 'Oh, Simon, what are you doing?'" I'm lucky that, this time, my character is almost as out there as Robin's is.
Williams: That's the attraction between them. I love how she says to Simon's daughter, Sydney [Sarah Michelle Gellar], "Oh, balls!"
Dawber: I get to say "balls." We couldn't even say "crud" on Mork & Mindy.
TV Guide Magazine: No crud? Why not?
Williams: Because it's dried sperm. So if someone offers you crud, be careful!
The Crazy Ones airs Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c on CBS.