Robin Williams

“Why am I in Bombay?”: Robin Williams Believed His Strange Experience Would Scare Even the Devil Away

During a 2010 appearance on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, late actor-comedian Robin Williams detailed a peculiar substance-induced experience he went through.


  • Late comedian-actor Robin Williams was among Hollywood’s most beloved talents, known for his improvisational wit and exuberant energy.
  • Behind his humorous flair, though, was a long-standing battle with drug and alcohol addiction, which the star was frequently candid about.
  • During his appearance on Jonathan Ross’ chat show in 2010, Williams revealed one such drug-induced experience that could scare even the devil away.

There’s a reason why the world considers Robin Williams one of the greatest comedians of all time. His flawless improvisational wit and rib-tickling unrestrained on-stage energy left the world in awe of his skills. The Mrs. Doubtfire alum would even tackle some of the most harrowing experiences he had endured with brutal honesty during his comedic routines or while appearing for interviews and then mask it with his fast-paced humor; the audiences couldn’t help but laugh along.

Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting (1997)
Good Will Hunting (1997) dir. Gus Van Sant

Such was the case during his 2010 visit to Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Here, he discussed a plethora of topics, but most notable was the portion where the comedy genius detailed—while making a joke out of it in his trademark style—his battle with cocaine and alcohol, which he had given up in the 1980s, maintaining sobriety for over 20 years (until a relapse into drinking in 2004.)

In his appearance, the comedian-actor, behind his wall of humor, described a bizarre anecdote involving ‘speed pills’ he had taken. What transpired afterward, Williams affirmed, would scare even the Devil away.

Robin Williams’ Strange Speed Pills Experience Would Terrify Even The Devil

Robin Williams in Insomnia (2002)
Robin Williams in Insomnia (2002)

When Williams was on screen or stage, there was never a dull moment—whether for chat shows, the movies he starred in, or the routines he dedicated himself to. Even when he addressed subjects that most people would find too gloomy or bizarre to discuss for fear of being judged by others, the comedian’s effective utilization of unadulterated, uncensored humor reaped laughter from all corners.

Appearing on Jonathan Ross’ BBC One chat show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, the Good Will Hunting actor’s retelling of a strange anecdote encapsulated the above sentiment. Robin Williams talked about the time he consumed speed pills, otherwise known as black beauties. It went something like this:

“There was one time someone gave me … two black beauties. For those of you who don’t know, they’re … speed pills. And I took them and went, ‘Oh, sure,’ cause in those days, ‘Yeah, whatever, fine. Let’s do it!’ Three days later, I was like, ‘Oh, boy! Why am I in Bombay!?’”

While the height of the incident was jarring, worse for the star was the eventual crash—a plunge to the bottom of the abyss so awful that even the devil would dread it. Following was Williams’ statement:

“I was still going, and then, the weird thing is you’re up, and you’re up, and you’re up [that] when you crash, even the devil’s going, ‘Dude, this is not going to go well. Oh, wow. I lost you when you got on the plane … I’m evil, but this is just strange.’”

The Insomnia star also talked about his repeated experiences with cocaine use in the segment that included his interview. He explained it as a cycle in which, after using it, one expects to meet their demise, but the next day, they realize nothing’s wrong, and they’ve survived, prompting them to use it again. He also talked about the intense, unbearable feelings the substance would trigger.

Robin Williams Was Candid About His Past Use Of Cocaine

Dead Poets Society (1989) dir. Peter Weir
Dead Poets Society (1989) dir. Peter Weir

Following the speed pills anecdote, Jonathan Ross queried whether Robin Williams was surprised he had made it through the years of putting himself through the consumption of such substances since many others couldn’t. The comedian affirmed, “Yeah, I am.” On the show host’s statement of people undergoing such turbulent experiences, knowing its effects could be disastrous on the body, the actor’s reply was:

“Oh, it is [a bad thing to put oneself through]. But, I mean, so many of us did it. And you get through it. And there’ll be those nights when you do cocaine, and you’ll be like, ‘Oh, I am going to die!’ … You wake up the next morning, ‘I didn’t die! Let’s try it again!’”

The never-ending cycle of addiction and substance use can be a torturous one, and Robin Williams, albeit lightheartedly, acknowledged the effects of cocaine use:

“It’s insanity, you know? And what a great drug! Any drug that makes you paranoid and impotent, how much fun can you have?”

Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

What distinguished the Dead Poets Society star from the rest of the crowd was his willingness to confront even the painful, troublesome aspects of his life with an undercurrent of humor. Behind his mask of comedic wit was someone who suffered a lengthy battle with drug and alcohol addiction. With his passing in 2014, facets of his struggles resurfaced and sparked a conversation detailing the demons he dealt with unbeknownst to many.

The one-of-a-kind talent’s death left a void that Hollywood has failed to overcome even today. Nevertheless, his memory will live on through the work he accomplished and the joy he brought to millions and thousands of people across the globe.

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