One day after winning an Academy Award, actor Robin Williams took his Oscar to UC Berkeley to film a movie, stunning the sparse number of people who decided to stay in town during spring break.
Williams was on campus from Tuesday through Thursday, filming the movie "Patch Adams." His appearance on campus was marked by movie trucks, production crews and movie extras surrounding LeConte and Wheeler halls dressed in 1960s garb .
In the film, Williams portrays Patch Adams, a real-life medical doctor and clown famous for introducing humor into the healing process. Adams helped found the Gesundheit Institute in Virginia.
The portion of the movie filmed at UC Berkeley depicts the doctor as a medical student in the 1960s, speaking out in large lecture halls. Producers said it was not difficult to transform Wheeler Auditorium and 1 LeConte Hall into 1960s settings for the movie.
Williams said he chose to film at UC Berkeley because it is close to his San Francisco home.
"It's the most mellow place in the world," Williams said. "I've been going to Berkeley for years and nothing seems to change."
With many students gone for spring break, people who were on or around the barren campus said they were surprised to see the world-famous actor so far from Hollywood especially at the height of his career. Last Monday, Williams won the best supporting actor Academy Award for his performance in the movie, "Good Will Hunting" his first Oscar after three nominations.
Biking through Sproul Plaza two days after winning, Williams sans Oscar said that he still could not get over the fact that he received an award so momentous that it made him "speechless" when he won.
"I was in shock," Williams said. "I was truly surprised. It's nice. It's a great feeling. It's a medal that gives wood."
Everywhere the actor stopped, large crowds immediately formed. Near Sproul Hall, Williams was chatting with a homeless man when a crowd of 30 passers-by suddenly noticed the presence of Robin Williams. The crowd, which included the Italian media, mobbed Williams for his autograph and pictures. But Williams took it all in stride and took his time with his fans.
"You know the Free Speech Movement?" Williams asked. "It took place right over there and I'm looking at the results," Williams said as he posed for pictures and pointed at Sproul Hall.
For senior Anna Vasquez, a routine trip to work in Wheeler Hall on Tuesday was transformed into a five-minute chatting session with the actor. She was walking down one of the halls when she noticed the long catering tables, the extras and Williams sitting at the end of the table with his golden statue.
"I looked at him and I said, 'Is it you?,' and he said, 'Yeah, it's me,' and everybody started laughing," Vasquez said.
Even local businesses were not free of the frenzy that seemed to accompany the actor. Edward Woo, an assistant manager at Foot Locker on Telegraph Avenue, said that Williams' presence in the store almost created a security hazard when 30 people rushed in the store for the celebrity's autograph.
Woo, who helped Williams purchase New Balance running shoes, said that he got caught up in the moment even though he was doing his job.
"I did get excited," Woo said. "I can't believe I helped him."
After Williams left, Woo called his manager to tell him the news, but his boss would not believe him. Woo said, however, that he has the credit card receipt to prove it.
©1998 The Daily Californian