Alexie Gilmore plays Claire, an effervescent art teacher who is secretly dating the poetry professor Lance Clayton (Robin Williams), making it clear she doesn’t want their relationship to get serious. That is until Lance’s son is found dead, and faking a suicide note for him, Lance becomes a celebrity father, representing his son in print and on television.

Claire is a complicated character…

World's Greatest Dad - Alexie Gilmore and Robin Williams © Magnolia Pictures
World's Greatest Dad - Alexie Gilmore and Robin Williams © Magnolia Pictures

Yes, it was fun to be able to play someone that was not just the arm candy or the girlfriend. There was stuff going on underneath it all, and to be a person that people are not really sure about. Is she really aware of how mean she can be sometimes? When I read the script I was like, ‘Oh, man, I know this girl.’

Everyone knows a girl like that. But for me I didn’t see her as an evil person, I saw her as someone who really thought she was always doing the best thing, so for me the key to playing her was really playing her with sincerity, because I think most people don’t know what they’re doing sometimes. And so that for me was the preparation that I did, that I really tried to keep strong with.

There were some opportunistic undercurrents to her – how did you approach that and still keep her loveable almost to the end?

World's Greatest Dad - Alexie Gilmore, Robin Williams, and Zach Sanchez
Alexie Gilmore, Robin Williams, and Zach Sanchez © Magnolia Pictures

The way it’s written she always makes sure that she is lovable in whoever’s eyes she is in front of. For me it was always making sure that she was still liked no matter what. It comes from that need of, ‘I really want this, but I’m going to make sure that I’m going to do it in the best way possible, because I want people to like me.’ That’s what I tried to do, just always make it as nice as possible even though I’m saying some really shitty things.

So how was it playing Robin Williams’ love interest?

Pretty cool, I’ve got to say, you work with somebody like Robin, it’s impossible to look bad. It’s like wearing diamonds, you’re going to look good.

Were you worried about keeping up with Robin before you actually got on set with him?

Yeah, I was definitely intimidated, but as soon as I got on set and I met Robin, he was like, ‘It is such a honor to meet you.’ It made me feel so special, so I just felt fortunate; there was no ego on set at all.

There are a lot of comedians in this, but it’s a very dramatic film, what was the atmosphere like between the shots?

It was pretty light, Bobcat [Goldthwait, the director] would come to the set with a shower cap on or a kilt, every day was a new day and it was always exciting. It was definitely light and everyone [was] having a good time in between. I think that’s the great thing about the movie, it has a good balance of comedy and darkness, and you see how close they are too.

What’s your all time favorite Robin Williams movie?

Good Will Hunting, I thought he was so great in that. I love that movie.

Do you gravitate more towards him when he does the more serious parts as opposed to the wild comedy stuff?

You know, I do, I like seeing him do drama. Obviously he’s one of the funniest people in the world, but I always like to see people like that do something different too, and he’s so good at it. The man’s a genius.

What about the title, when you got script it almost sounds like a Disney movie.

I know, that’s why I have to tell people, ‘It’s not Mrs Doubtfire,’ I think it’s good and it fits the style of the movie, you think it’s going to be something and it turns out to be something else.

What do you think the message of the film is?

I think it’s about truth, and if you are dishonest it’s not going to feel good in the end. How you deal with things is the most important thing in life. Lance is the most redeeming character in the whole film, even though he does a horrible thing, at the end, at least for me, I felt you forgive him because he comes clean and he redeems himself. All of us look pretty shitty by the end of it. I think that’s a good message too, that even if you mess up you can always try again

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.