Zelda Williams is opening up about her late father, actor Robin Williams.
As the 26-year-old kicks her career into high gear, Zelda tells ET’s Sophie Schillaci that she hopes, above all, to live out her father’s kindness.
“A lot of what I try to do is interact with the world the way he did,” Zelda reveals in an exclusive sit-down. “He didn't care who someone was, he did a lot of work with the homeless, he did a lot of work with people in prison, as my mom does now, and he was always kind. It meant a lot to him, so I kind of hope to, if nothing else, be that.”
Though she’ll never forget the myriad of lessons her famous father has taught her, Zelda tells ET that she still finds it difficult to watch her dad on-screen.
“I think once I reach a place where I'm more comfortable, I'll happily watch [all of his films] again,” she explains. “Right now, I think that would be a bit self-destructive, in a sense. It's been nice to kind of work on myself and my family and the people who are here.”
Zelda lost her father in August of 2014. The actor had publicly faced addiction and, according to a statement from his rep at the time of his death, had "been battling severe depression."
Two months later, Zelda revealed a beautiful new hummingbird tattoo on her right hand – inked in memory of the late actor. Now, Zelda reveals the added significance behind the beautiful work of art.
For poppo. Thank you to the incomparable @dr_woo_ssc for so beautifully bringing my reminders to life. I'll always put my hand out to shake with a smile. As for this Instagram, I don't know in what capacity I'll continue using it in the future, but I'm leaving it up regardless so that fake accounts hoping to use my name or misuse my family's photos will get no traction. To be clear, this is MY ONLY account. Publicly, I have Twitter, and this. If other people post quotes and photos claiming to be me or my family, please, do not send them personal information or click links, even for charity. They could be utilizing sympathy to scam you. For the record, no one has ever or will ever speak for me but me. Thank you.
“I [didn’t] really talk about [the tattoo] with many people,” she says. “I think I spoke about it with my mom. I'd also written a script -- one of the first one I'd ever written -- called The Hummingbird. And it meant a lot to me. ... It was one that I wanted even before he passed, and when he passed it meant an enormous amount more to me.”
Zelda made her directorial debut last week with her longtime pal JoJo, directing the latter’s “Save My Soul” music video. The girls, who were introduced by Robin at the RV premiere in 2006 and have remained close ever since, share a special bond. Both of their fathers battled addiction, and JoJo lost her own father last November.
“To me, ‘Save My Soul’ is about addiction,” JoJo tells ET. “I say it’s love and other drugs.”
Though the music video was filmed one month before the death of JoJo’s father, the project became a tribute to him and was released on what would have been his 61st birthday.
“We've wanted to work together for a very long time and the strangest thing about directing [is], until someone lets you do it -- no one will let you do it,” Zelda says of the project. “So that was kind of our continuous struggle.” Asked what dad Robin would think of seeing the video today, “I think he’d be proud,” Zelda says. “But I think he’d be happy to see that I was doing that finally, because we talked about it a lot.”
Zelda has been busy developing projects over the last year, including several scripts she’s written herself. “One of them is very controversial,” she says, “and then the other is a horror film. I’m a huge horror nerd – like, enormous horror nerd – so I really hope I get to make that.”
She’s also acting, teasing an upcoming big-screen period piece that she’ll begin filming next week, and setting her sights on TV’s upcoming pilot season. “I might be doing my first pilot, which is lovely,” she said, adding apologetically: “I can’t talk about it though! I’m sorry!”
When she is on set, Zelda takes to heart some very practical advice from her dad.
“Don't go to the bathroom with your mic on,” she said with a laugh. “Always be nice to hair and makeup because they're responsible for you not looking like a piece of s***. Excuse me, my apologies. This is why dad always had censors everywhere around him!”
“I swear like a sailor, like he did, so it's hard for me at times,” she adds, still laughing. “Public interactions, basically. Especially around children!”
For more backstory on Zelda and JoJo’s sweet friendship and to hear the rest of the interview, press play on the video below.