Robin Williams

“I was incredibly excited”: Replacing Robin Williams In His First Ever Marvel Movie Backfired Heavily For House Of Cards Actor

House of Cards star Chip Zien had to face great humiliation after replacing Robin Williams in his first Marvel movie.


  • Robin Williams was offered the role of Howard in Howard the Duck, the first Marvel comic books-based movie.
  • After facing issues with the animatronic bill of the character, Robin quit the movie only to have Chip Zien replace him.
  • Elated to have replaced Williams, the House of Cards actor’s happiness was short-lived for the movie was a critical and commercial failure.

Robin Williams was, is, and will always remain the most iconic actor in Hollywood. His unique approach and acting prowess have always stood out, making any character of his memorable. While he is best known for his roles in the comedy genre, the actor was once approached to play a lead in the first-ever Marvel movie, Howard the Duck.

Late Hollywood actor Robin Williams
Late Hollywood actor Robin Williams

Released in 1986, the excitement of his starring in a Marvel movie was short-lived for he soon enough quit the movie after finding his classic improv style reigned in. Luckily for the production, House of Cards star Chip Zien ended up replacing Willams. Excited to have replaced an actor his Williams, his happiness was short-lived since the movie went on to become one of the worst box office bombs.

When Chip Zien’s Happiness Over Replacing Robin Williams Severly Backfired

Howard the Duck (1986)
Howard the Duck (1986)

Robin Williams in the 80s was at the height of his popularity so to have replaced an actor like him in a Marvel movie was a big move for Chip Zien. Despite being rejected the first time, Zien got the chance to play Howard in Howard the Duck, when Williams left the movie after being forced to sync his voice with the character’s animatronic bill.

Excited and elated over his good fortune, Zien could hardly contain his excitement, as he stated once (via The Hollywood Reporter),

“On Memorial Day 1985, I got a call from my agent who said, ‘You have to get right to the airport! Robin Williams just quit and you’re now Howard the Duck. You need to get there tonight. There is a ticket waiting for you at the counter.’ I was incredibly excited.”

However, his happiness was short-lived, for ever since the premiere of the movie, the audience, and critics brutally attacked the film. The negative relations weren’t just bad, they were ferocious and vicious, so much so that Frank Price, Universal Pictures’s president was forced to resign over its exceptionally poor performance.

Chip Zien Is Glad He Got To Play Howard The Duck

chip zien (via playbill youtube)
Chip Zien (via Playbill | YouTube)

To say Howard the Duck was a failure would be wrong, for it was worse than failure. When Chip Zien was first offered the part, he was disappointed but after hearing that even actors like Robin Williams were in line for the role, he was truly satisfied.

His happiness only increased when he got to replace the late actor, however, seeing the movie’s terrible box-office performance and review, Zien found it ‘unbelievably depressing’. So for a long time, the House of Cards actor chose not to speak about it, still hung up on his decision to star in the box-office bomb.

But now, the actor remains glad he had the chance to play Howard the Dack (via The Hollywood Reporter).

“After it came out, I did some Broadway shows and did some TV things. I was quiet about my participation in Howard the Duck. But, eventually, I started to talk about it a lot because it was an amazing experience. And I am glad I did it. I didn’t always put it in my bio at first and now, I always put it in there.”

While the movie enjoys some sort of cult-classic fame now, the character Howard has appeared in several cameos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Howard the Duck can be rented on Amazon Prime.

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