Actor Dante Basco has revealed a touching moment he had with Robin Williams on the set of 1991’s Hook. Directed by Steven Spielberg, Hook tells the story of an adult Peter Pan (Williams), who must return to Neverland to save his children from his old nemesis, Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). The film, which was not a financial flop by any means, did fail to live up to box office expectations and was largely panned by critics at the time.
Although Hook may not have captured audiences’ attention at its release in 1991 and is considered one of Spielberg’s weaker films, it has since garnered a more positive reputation after the tragic and untimely passing of Robin Williams in 2014. Williams’ heartfelt and surprisingly deep performance in the film is often considered one of Hook’s main strengths. In addition to Williams and Hoffman, the film also features Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell, Maggie Smith as Granny Wendy, Bob Hoskins as Smee, and Dante Basco as Rufio.
In a new exclusive interview with Screen Rant, Basco reflected on his role as Rufio in Hook and what it was like working with Williams. When asked if he had a favorite moment on set with Williams, Basco shared a particularly fond memory of how Williams made him feel at home and welcome in the world of Hollywood. Basco, who is of Filipino descent, recalls how Williams inquired about his heritage and shared details of his own life in order to bond with the young actor. Read Basco’s full comments below:
Exclusive: “… One day, Robin pulled me aside, and he was like, “Dante, where are you from?” I was explaining to him, “I’m from the Bay Area,” and he goes like, “Oh, yeah, me too.” I was like, “Oh, yeah, of course. Robin, everyone knows you’re from San Francisco. You’re a legendary San Francisco cat.” And he goes, “No, but where’s your family from originally?” I’m like, “Oh, I’m Filipino.” And he goes, “Oh, I thought so.” His wife at the time, Marsha, “My wife’s half Filipino, and you totally remind me of my father-in-law.” He starts talking about that and the culture and the family. You feel like you’re an outsider looking in a lot when you’re in Hollywood. It’s all these big movie stars at the big party. And even being on the set in the movie with them, you still feel like they’re in their own little world. He had a way of putting his arm around me and going like, “No, man. You’re welcome. This is for you.” I’ll never forget him for that.”
Williams’ wife, at the time, was Marsha Garces Williams, whom he was married to from 1989 until their divorce in 2010. Basco’s comments echo those of other actors and directors who worked with Williams, including Hook director Spielberg. The Academy Award-winning director claimed Williams would call him to do weekly stand-up routines over the phone during Spielberg’s grueling and emotionally draining filming of Schindler’s List. After Hook, Basco would go on to appear in But I’m A Cheerleader, Take The Lead, and Hang Loose.
Although Hook may not be Spielberg’s finest work, seeing Williams working at his prime with such positivity and enthusiasm has kept the film in the cultural conversation even 30 years after its release. For Williams’ performance alone, Hook is worth watching and discussing. The positive stories that have emerged about Williams following his death have led many to revisit some of his previously overlooked films, exposing younger audiences to the comic, heartfelt genius of a star that passed far too soon.